Pimp: The Story of My Life

Pimp: The Story of My Life

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by Iceberg Slim

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Before Hip Hop, there was the pimp. The book that brought black literature to the streets is back to show the Hip Hop generation what it’s all about, where they came from. By telling the story of one man’s struggles and triumphs in an underground world, this book shows the game doesn’t change - it just has a different swagger. Iceberg Slim's story

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Before Hip Hop, there was the pimp. The book that brought black literature to the streets is back to show the Hip Hop generation what it’s all about, where they came from. By telling the story of one man’s struggles and triumphs in an underground world, this book shows the game doesn’t change - it just has a different swagger. Iceberg Slim's story is now depicted in a major motion picture distributed worldwide. Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp shows Slim's transformation from pimp to the author of 7 classic books.As real as you can get without jumping in, this is the story of Slim’s life as he saw, felt, tasted, and smelled it. Only he could tell this story and make the reader feel it. If you thought Hustle&Flow was the true pimp story, this book is where it all began. This is the heyday of the pimp, the hard-won pride and glory, small though it may be; the beginnings of pimp before it was dragged in front of the camera, before pimp juice and pimp style. A trip through hell by one man who lived to tell the tale. The dangers of jail, addiction and death that are still all too familiar for today’s black community. Though it is a tale of his times, it will remain current and true for as long as there is a race bias, as long as there is a street life, as long as there is exploitation.

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Dawn was breaking as the big Hog scooted through the streets. My five whores were chattering like drunk magpies. I smelled the stink that only a street whore has after a long, busy night. The inside of my nose was raw. It happens when you’re a pig for snorting cocaine.

My nose was on fire and the stink of those whores and the gangster they were smoking seemed like invisible knives scraping to the root of my brain. I was in an evil, dangerous mood despite that pile of scratch crammed into the glove compartment.

“Goddamnit, has one of you bitches shit on herself or something?” I bellowed as I flipped the long window toward me. For a long moment there was silence.

Then Rachel, my bottom whore, cracked in a pleasing ass-kissing voice. “Daddy Baby, that ain’t no shit you smell. We been turning all night and ain’t no bathrooms in those tricks’ cars we been flipping out of. Daddy, we sure been humping for you, and what you smell is our nasty whore asses.”

I grinned widely, inside of course. The best pimps keep a steel lid on their emotions and I was one of the iciest. The whores went into fits of giggles at Rachel’s shaky witticism. A pimp is happy when his whores giggle. He knows they are still asleep.

I coasted the Hog into the curb outside the hotel where Kim, my newest, prettiest girl, was cribbing. Jesus! I would be glad to drop the last whore off so I could get to my own hotel to nurse my nose with cocaine and be alone. Any good pimp is his own best company. His inner life is so rich with cunning and scheming to out-think his whores.

As Kim got out I said, “Goodnight Baby, today is Saturday so I want everybody in the street at noon instead of seven tonight. I said noon, not five minutes after or two minutes after, but at twelve noon sharp I want you down, got it, Baby?”

She didn’t answer, but she did a strange thing. She walked into the street around the Hog to the window on my side. She stood looking at me for a long moment, her beautiful face tense in the dim dawn.

Then in her crisp New England accent she said, “Are you coming back to my pad this morning? You haven’t spent a night with me in a month. So come back, okay?”

A good pimp doesn’t get paid for screwing, he gets his pay off for always having the right thing to say to a whore right on lightning tap. I knew my four whores were flapping their ears to get my reaction to this beautiful bitch. A pimp with an overly fine bitch in his stable has to keep his game tight. Whores constantly probe for weakness in a pimp.

I fitted a scary mask on my face and said, in a low deadly voice, “Bitch, are you insane? No bitch in this family calls any shots or muscles me to do anything. Now take your stinking yellow ass upstairs to a bath and some shut eye, and get in the street at noon like I told you.”

The bitch just stood there, her eyes slitted in anger. I could sense she was game to play the string out right there in the street before my whores. If I had been ten years dumber I would have leaned out of that Hog and broken her jaw, and put my foot in her ass, but the joint was too fresh in my mind.

I knew the bitch was trying to booby trap me when she spat out her invitation. “Come on kick my ass. What the hell do I need with a man I only see when he comes to get his money? I am sick of it all. I don’t dig stables and never will. I know I’m the new bitch who has to prove herself. Well Goddamnit, I am sick of this shit. I’m cutting out.”

She stopped for air and lit a cigarette. I was going to blast her ass off when she finished. So, I just sat there staring at her.

Then she went on, “I have turned more tricks in the three months I have been with you than in the whole two years with Paul. My pussy stays sore and swollen. Do I get my ass kicked before I split? If so, kick it now because I am going back to Providence on the next thing smoking.”

She was young, fast with trick appeal galore. She was a pimp’s dream and she knew it. She had tested me with her beef and now she was lying back for a sucker response.

I disappointed her with my cold overlay. I could see her wilt as I said in an icy voice. “Listen square-ass Bitch, I have never had a whore I couldn’t do without. I celebrate, Bitch, when a whore leaves me. It gives some worthy bitch a chance to take her place and be a star. You scurvy Bitch, if I shit in your face, you gotta love it and open your mouth wide.”

The rollers cruised by in a squad car so I flashed a sucker smile on my face and cooled it until they passed. Kim was rooted there wincing under the blizzard.

I went on ruthlessly, “Bitch, you are nothing but a funky zero. Before me you had one chili chump with no rep. Nobody except his mother ever heard of the bastard. Yes Bitch, I’ll be back this morning to put your phony ass on the train.”

I rocketed away from the curb. In the rear-view mirror I saw Kim walk slowly into the hotel, her shoulders slumped. In the Hog, until I dropped the last whore off you could have heard a mosquito crapping on the moon. I had tested out for them, “solid ice.”

I went back for Kim. She was packed and silent. On the way to the station, I riffled the pages in that pimp’s book in my head for an angle to hold her without kissing her ass.

I couldn’t find a line in it for an out like that. As it turned out the bitch was testing and bluffing right down the line.

We had pulled into the station parking lot when the bitch fell to pieces. Her eyes were misty when she yelped, “Daddy, are you really going to let me split? Daddy, I love you!”

I started the prat action to cinch her when I said, “Bitch, I don’t want a whore with rabbit in her. I want a bitch who wants me for life. You have got to go after that bullshit earlier this morning, you are not that bitch.”

That prat butchered her and she collapsed into my lap crying and begging to stay. I had a theory about splitting whores. I think they seldom split without a bankroll.

So, I cracked on her, “Give me that scratch you held out and maybe I will give you another chance.”

Sure enough she reached into her bosom and drew out close to five bills and handed it to me. No pimp with a brain in his head cuts loose a young beautiful whore with lots of mileage left in her. I let her come back.

When at long last I was driving toward my hotel I remembered what Baby Jones, the master pimp who turned me out, had said about whores like Kim.

“Slim,” he had said, “A pretty Nigger bitch and a white whore are just alike. They both will get in a stable to wreck it and leave the pimp on his ass with no whore. You gotta make ’em hump hard and fast to stick ’em for long scratch quick. Slim, pimping ain’t no game of love, so prat ’em and keep your swipe outta ’em. Any sucker who believe a whore loves him shouldn’t a fell outta his mammy’s ass.”

My mind went back to Pepper. Then back even further and I remembered what he had said about The Georgia.

“Slim, a pimp is really a whore who has reversed the game on whores. So Slim, be as sweet as the scratch, no sweeter, and always stick a whore for a bundle before you sex her. A whore ain’t nothing but a trick to a pimp. Don’t let ’em Georgia you. Always get your money in front just like a whore.

On the elevator riding to my pad I thought about the first bitch who had Georgied me and how she had flim-flammed me out of my head. She would be old and gray now, but if I could find her I would sure get the bitch’s unpaid account off my conscience.


In this book I will take you, the reader, with me into the secret inner world of the pimp. I will lay bare my life and thoughts as a pimp. The account of my brutality and cunning as a pimp will fill many of you with revulsion, however, if one intelligent, valuable young man or woman can be saved from the destructive slime; then the displeasure I have given will have been outweighed by that individual’s use of his potential in a socially constructive manner.

I regret that it is impossible to recount to you all of my experiences as a pimp. Unfortunately, it would require the combined pages of a half-dozen books. Perhaps my remorse for my ghastly life will diminish to the degree that within this one book I have been allowed to purge myself. Perhaps one day I can win respect as a constructive human being. Most of all I wish to become a decent example for my children and for that wonderful woman in the grave, my mother.

© 1987 Iceberg Slim


Her name was Maude and she Georgied me around 1921. I was only three years old. Mama told me about it, and always when she did her rage and indignation would be as strong and as emotional perhaps as at the time when she had surprised her, panting and moaning at the point of orgasm with my tiny head wedged between her ebony thighs, her massive hands viselike around my head.

Mama worked long hours in a hand laundry and Maude had been hired as a babysitter at fifty cents a day. Maude was a young widow. Strangely, she had a reputation in Indianapolis, Indiana as a devout Holy Roller.

I have tried through the years to remember her face but all I can remember is the funky ritual. I vaguely remember, not her words but her excitement when we were alone.

I remember more vividly the moist, odorous darkness and the bristle-like hairs tickling my face and most vividly I can remember my panic, when in the wild moment of her climax, she would savagely jerk my head even tighter into the hairy maw.

I couldn’t get a breath of air until like a huge black balloon she would exhale with a whistling whoosh and relax, limply freeing my head.

I remember the ache of the strain on my fragile neck muscles, and especially at the root of my tongue.

Mama and I had come to Indianapolis from Chicago, where since the time when she was six months pregnant, my father had begun to show his true colors as an irresponsible, white-spats-wearing bum.

Back in that small town in Tennessee, their home town, he had stalked the beautiful virgin and conned her into marriage. Her parents, with vast relief, gave their blessing and wished them the best in the promised land up North in Chicago.

Mama had ten brothers and sisters. Her marriage meant one less mouth to feed.

My father’s father was a skilled cook and he passed his know how to my father, who shortly after getting to Chicago scored a chef’s job at a huge middle-class hotel. Mama was put on as a waitress.

Mama told me that even with both of them working twelve hours a day, six days a week they couldn’t save a nickel or buy furniture or anything.

My idiot father had come to the big city and gone sucker wild. He couldn’t stay away from the high-yellow whores with their big asses and bitch-dog sexual antics. What they didn’t con him out of he lost in the cheat crap joints.

At the hotel one night he vanished from the kitchen. Mama finally found him thrusting mightily into a half-white waitress lying on a sack of potatoes in a storage room, with her legs locked around his back.

Mama said she threw everything she could lift at them. They were unemployed when they walked away from the shambles.

My father tearfully vowed to straighten himself out and be a man, but he didn’t have the will, the strength to resist the cheap thrills of the city.

After my birth he got worse and had the stupid gall to suggest to Mama that I be put on a Catholic Church doorstep. Mama naturally refused so he hurled me against the wall in disgust.

I survived it and he left us, his white spats flashing and his derby hat at a rakish angle.

It was the beginning of a bitter winter. Mama packed pressing irons and waving combs into a small bag and wrapped me warmly in blankets and set out into the bleak, friendless city to ring door bells, the bag in one arm and I in the other.

Her pitch was something like this, “Madam, I can make your hair curly and beautiful. Please give me a chance. For fifty cents, that’s all, I will make your hair shine like new money.”

At this point in the pitch Mama told me she would slip the blanket aside to bare my wee big-eyed face. The sight of me in her arm on a subzero day was like a charm. She managed to make a living for us.

That spring, with new friends of Mama’s we left Chicago for Indianapolis. We stayed there until nineteen twenty-four, when a fire gutted the hand laundry where Mama worked.

There were no jobs in Indianapolis for Mama and for six months we barely made it on the meager savings. We were penniless and with hardly any food when a tall black angel visiting relatives in Indianapolis came into our lives.

He fell instantly in love with my lissome beautiful mother. His name was Henry Upshaw, and I guess I fell as hard for him as he fell for Mama.

He took us back to Rockford, Illinois with him where he owned a cleaning and pressing shop, the only Negro business in downtown Rockford.

In those tough depression times a Negro in his position was the envy of most Negro men.

Henry was religious, ambitious, good and kind. I often wonder what would have happened to my life if I had not been torn from him.

He treated Mama like she was a princess, anything she wanted he got for her. She was a fashion plate all right.

Every Sunday when we all three went to church in the gleaming black Dodge we were an outstanding sight as we walked down the aisle in our fresh neat clothing.

Only the few Negro lawyers and physicians lived as well, looked as well. Mama was president of several civic clubs. For the first time we were living the good life.

Mama had a dream. She told it to Henry. Like the genie of the lamp he made it a reality.

It was a four stall, opulent beauty shop. Its chrome gleamed in the black-and-gold motif. It was located in the heart of the Negro business section and it flourished from the moment its doors opened.

Her clientele was for the most part whores, pimps, and hustlers from the sprawling red light district in Rockford. They were the only ones who always had the money to spend on their appearance.

The first time I saw Steve he was sitting getting his nails manicured in the shop. Mama was smiling into his handsome olive-tinted face as she buffed his nails.

I didn’t know when I first saw him that he was the pin-striped snake who would poison the core of our lives.

I certainly had no inkling that last day at the shop as live billows of steam hissed from the old pressing machine each time Henry slammed its lid down on a garment.

Jesus! It was hot in that little shop, but I loved every minute of it. It was school-vacation time for me and every summer I worked in the shop all day, every day helping my stepfather.

That day as I saw my reflection on the banker’s expensive black shoes, I was perhaps the happiest black boy in Rockford. As I applied the sole dressing I hummed my favorite tune “Spring Time in the Rockies.”

The banker stepped down from the shine stand, stood for a moment as I flicked lint from his soft, rich suit, then with a warm smile he pressed an extravagant fifty-cent piece into my hand and stepped out into the broiling street.

Now I whistled my favorite tune, shines were only a dime, what a tip.

I didn’t know at the time that the banker would never press another coin into my hand, that for the next thirty-five years this last day would be remembered vividly as the final day of real happiness for me.

I would press five-dollar bills into the palms of shine boys. My shoes would be handmade, would cost three times as much as the banker’s shoes, but my shoes, though perfectly fitted would be worn in tension and fear.

There was really nothing out of the ordinary that day. Nothing during that day that I heard or saw that prepared me for the swift, confusing events that over the weekend would slam my life away from all that was good to all that was bad.

Now, looking back remembering that last day in the shop as clearly as if it were yesterday, my stepfather, Henry, was unusually quiet. My young mind couldn’t grasp his worry, his heart break.

Even I, a ten year old, knew that this huge, ugly, black man who had rescued Mama and me from actual starvation back in Indianapolis loved us with all of his great, sensitive heart.

I loved Henry with all my heart. He was the only father I had ever really known.

He could have saved himself an early death from a broken heart if instead of falling so madly in love with Mama he had run as fast as he could away from her. For him, she was brown-skin murder in a size-twelve dress.

That last night at eight o’clock Dad and I flicked the shop’s lights out as always at closing.

In an emotion muffled voice he spoke my name “Bobby.”

I turned toward him and looked up into his face tense and strained in the pale light from the street lamp. I was confused and shaken when he put his massive hands on my shoulders and drew me to him very tightly just holding me in this strange desperate way.

My head was pressed against his belt buckle. I could barely hear his low, rapid flow of pitiful words.

He said, “Bobby, you know I love you and Mama, don’t you?”

His stomach muscles were cording, jerking against my cheek. I knew he was going to burst into tears.

I said as I squeezed my arms around his waist, “Yes, Daddy, yes, Daddy. We love you too, Daddy. We always will, Daddy.”

He was trembling as he said, “You and Mama wouldn’t ever leave me? You know Bobby, I ain’t got nobody in the world but you two. I just couldn’t go on if you left me alone.”

I clung tightly to him and said, “Don’t worry Daddy, we’ll never leave you, I promise, honest, Daddy.”

What a sight we must have been, the six-foot-six black giant and the frail little boy holding on to each other for dear life, crying there in the darkness.

I tell you when we finally made it to the big black Dodge and were riding home my thoughts were turning madly.

Yes, poor Henry’s fears had foundation. Mama had never loved my stepfather. This kind, wonderful man had only been a tool of convenience. She had fallen in love with the snake all right.

His plan was to cop Mama and make it to the Windy. The dirty bastard knew I would be excess baggage, but the way Mama was gulping his con, he figured he could get rid of me later.

Only after I had become a pimp years later would I know Steve’s complete plot, and how stupid he really was.

Here this fool had a smart, square broad with a progressive square-john husband, infatuated with him. Her business was getting better all the time.

Her sucker husband was blindly in love, and the money from his business was wide open to her. If Steve had been clever he could have stayed right there on top of things and bled a big bankroll from the businesses in a couple of years.

Then he could have pulled Mama out of there and with a big bankroll he could have done anything with her, even turned her out.

I tell you she was that hot for him. She had to be insane over the asshole to walk away from all that potential with only twenty-five hundred in cash.

Steve blew it in a Georgia-skin game within a week after we got to Chicago.

I have wished to Christ, in four penitentiaries, that the lunatic lovers had left me in Rockford with Henry when they split.

One scene in my life I can never forget and that was that morning when Mama had finished packing our clothes and Henry lost his inner fight for his pride and dignity.

He fell down on his knees and bawled like a scalded child, pleading with Mama not to leave him, begging her to stay. He had welded his arms around her legs, his voice hoarse in anguish, as he whimpered his love for us.

His agonized eyes walled up at her as he wailed, “Please don’t leave me. You are sure to kill me if you do. I ain’t done nothing. If I have, forgive me.”

I will never forget her face, as cold as an executioner’s, which she was, as she kicked and struggled loose from him.

Then with an awful grin on her face she lied and said, “Henry, Honey, I just want to get away for a while. Darling, we’ll be back.”

In his state she was lucky he hadn’t killed her and me, and buried us in the backyard.

As the cab drove us away to the secret rendezvous with Steve sitting in his old Model T, I looked back at Henry on the porch, his chest heaving as tears rolled down his tortured face.

There were too many wheels within wheels, too much hurt for me to cry. After a blank time and distance we got to Chicago. Steve had vanished and Mama was telling me in a drab hotel room that my real father was coming over to see us, and to remember that Steve was her cousin.

Steve was stupid all right, but cunning, if you get what I mean.

Mama, at Steve’s instruction, weeks before, had gotten in contact with my father through a hustler brother of Mama’s in Chicago.

When my father came through the hotel room door reeking of cologne and dressed to kill, all I could think was what Mama had told me about that morning when this tall brown-skin joker had tossed me against the wall.

He took a long look at me. It was like looking in a mirror. His deep down guilt cream puffed him and he grabbed me and squeezed me to him. I was stiff and tense in the stranger’s arms, but I had looked in the mirror too when he came in, so I strung my arms limply about his neck.

When he hugged Mama, her face was toward me and stony, like back there with Henry. My father strutted about that hotel room boasting of his personal chef’s job for Big Bill Thompson the mayor of Chicago.

He told Mama and me, “I am a changed man now. I have saved my money and now I really have something to offer my wife and son. Won’t you come back to me and try again? I am older now, and I bitterly regret my mistakes of the past.”

Like a black-widow spider spinning a web around her prey, Mama put up enough resistance to make him pitch himself into a sweat then agreed to go back to him.

My father’s house was crammed with expensive furniture and art pieces. He had thousands of dollars invested in rich clothing and linens.

After a week, my hustler uncle brought Steve to visit us, and to case the lay out. My father bought the cousin angle and broke out his best cigars and cognac for the thieves. It was another week before they took him off.

Remember, at the time I had no idea as to what really was going to happen. I would learn the shocking truth only after we got to Milwaukee.

On that early evening when it happened Mama was jittery as we prepared to visit some close white friends of my father. I had a wonderful time getting acquainted with the host’s children who were around my age. Too soon it was time to go home.

In my lifetime I have seen many degrees of shock and surprise on the human face. I have never seen on any face the traumatic disbelief and shock that was on my father’s face when he unlocked the door and stepped into his completely empty house. His lips flapped mutely. He couldn’t speak. Everything was gone, all the furniture and drapery, everything, from the percolator to the pictures on the wall, even my Mama’s belongings.

Mama stood there in the empty house clinging to him, comforting him, sobbing with real tears flowing down her cheeks. I guess she was crying in joy because the cross had come off so beautifully.

Mama missed her calling. She should have been a film actress. With only a bit part, an Oscar a season would have been a lead-pipe cinch for her.

Mama told my father we would go to Indianapolis to friends until he could put another nest together.

When we got to Milwaukee by train, ninety miles away, Steve had rented a house. Every square inch of that house was filled with my father’s things.

Those lovely things did us little good and brought no happiness. Steve, with his mania for craps, within weeks had sold everything, piece by piece, and lost it across the craps table.

Mama worked long hours as a cook, and Steve and I were alone quite often.

At these times he would say, “You little mother-fucker, you. I’m going to beat your mother-fucking ass. I am telling you, if you don’t run away, I’m going to kill you.”

He was just so cruel to me. My mother had bought me a little baby cat. I loved that kitten, and this man hated animals. One day the cat, being a baby cat, did his business on the kitchen floor.

Steve said, “Where is that little mother-fucker?”

The little kitten had hidden under the sofa. He grabbed that kitten and took it downstairs where there was a concrete wall. He grabbed it by the heels. I was standing (we lived on the second floor) looking down at him; he took the kitten and beat its brains out against that wall.

I remember, there was a park behind our house, concrete covered. There were some concrete steps. I sat there and I cried until I puked. All the while I kept saying like a litany, “I hate Mama! I hate Mama! I hate Mama!” And, “I hate Steve! I hate Steve! I hate him! I hate him!”

For many tortured years she would suffer her guilt. She had made that terrible decision on that long ago weekend.

I know my lousy old man deserved what happened to his goods. I know Mama got her revenge and it was sweet I am sure, but it was bitter for a kid like me to know that Mama was part of it.

Perhaps if Mama had kept that burglary cross a secret from me, in some tiny way I might have been stronger to fight off that pimping disease. I don’t know, but somehow after that cross Mama just didn’t seem like the same honest sweet Mama that I had prayed in church with back in Rockford.

I went to her grave the other day and told her for the hundredth time since her death, “Mama, it wasn’t really your fault. You were a dumb country girl, you didn’t understand. I was your first and only child. You couldn’t have known how important Henry was to me.”

I choked up, stopped talking to her beneath the silent sod, and thought about Henry lying rotten, forgotten in his grave.

Then, through my tight throat I said to Mama, “To you he was ugly, but Mama I swear to heaven he was so beautiful to me. I loved him Mama, I needed him. I wish you could have seen beyond his ugly black face and loved him a little and stayed with him. Mama, we could have been happy, our lives would have been different, but I don’t blame you. Mama, I love you.”

I paused looking up at the sky, hoped she was up there and could hear me, then I went on, “I just wish you were alive now, you would be so proud of me. I am not a lawyer as you always wanted me to be, but Mama, you have two beautiful grandchildren and another on the way, and a fine daughter-in-law who looks a lot like you when you were young.”

The grave next to hers had visitors, an old man and a bright eyed girl about ten.

I stopped my bragging until the pair walked away, then I said, “Mama, I haven’t shot any H in ten years. I haven’t had a whore in five years. I have squared up, I work every day. How about it Mama, Iceberg Slim a square? You wouldn’t believe it Mama, I wear fiftydollar suits right off the rack, and my car is ten years old, you gotta believe it now Mama. Goodbye Mama, see you at Christmas, and remember, I’ll always love you.”

When I walked away from her grave I thought, “I don’t know, maybe that prison head-shrinker was right when he told me I had become a pimp because of my unconscious hatred for my mother.”

I know one damn thing, I can’t help crying at her grave almost as if I was crying because I did so much to put her there. Maybe the hidden hate that I can’t feel wants me to laugh that she’s down there in the earth. Maybe my crying is really laughing.

About ninety days after Steve smashed my kitten Mama cast off her spell, and one gray April dawn while Steve lay in a drunken, open-mouthed stupor, Mama and I packed what we could carry and moved into a hotel room. It was complete with hot plate and downthe-hall toilet.

Steve had stomped on three and a half years of our lives. I would soon be fourteen.

On August fourth, my birthday, our old friend Steve, with diabolical timing, made that event unforgettable. Since that chilly dawn in April he had searched the slum streets for his escaped dupes, thirsty for revenge.

I waited eagerly in the hotel room for Mama who had promised to bake a cake in her white woman’s kitchen. She said she would be home early at six o’clock to celebrate my birthday.

Well, she came home all right on the seventh of August, from a hospital, with her broken jaw wired, and her body covered with bruises.

Steve had stalked her and attacked her with his fists and feet and then escaped through the grimy catacombs of the Ghetto.

All that night and all the next day I crouched in the dark shadows beneath his stairwell gripping a gleaming ice pick. He never came back. He had moved.

Twenty years later, while idly looking from the window of a plush hotel suite I would see something familiar in the white-haired stooped figure of a garbage collector on the street three stories down.

I blacked out, when reason returned I was down there on the street in the bright morning sunlight, clutching a pistol, wearing only a pair of red silk pajamas.

As the garbage truck turned the corner a block away out of range, a small crowd of passersby stood bug-eyed watching the strange scene as Rachel, my main whore, tugged at my arm, pleaded with me to get off the street.

That was the last time I saw Steve, but I just don’t know, even now, what I would do if our paths crossed.

Perhaps that beating Mama took was good, as painful as it was. I remember how it worried me in that cruddy hotel room when the hotel’s neon sign outside our window would flash on her face. Her eyes would be bright, riveted on the ceiling, she would be in a trance, remembering, still hot for him.

As worthless as that bastard was otherwise, he sure must have been a son-of-a-bitch in the bed.

After all he had done to us, she still had a terrible itch for the bastard. That beating was good for her, it cured the itch.

Mama had learned a bitter lesson the hard way. The country girl had rolled in the hay with the city slicker and now I saw all of her sorrow and guilt in her eyes.

We couldn’t go back to the peaceful, green hills of Rockford. She had destroyed a good man back there, a native son. Henry died a year after we left him. Until the grave claimed her, Henry would rise from his own to haunt her in the lonely gloom.

Mama was desperate to save at least fragments of her image, to hold fast the love and respect I had for her in Rockford. I had seen too much, had suffered too much. The jungle had started to embalm me with bitterness and hardness.

I was losing, page by page, the fine rules of thought and deed that I had learned in church, from Henry to the Boy Scout Troop in Rockford. I was sopping up the poison of the street like a sponge.

I had begun to play Steve’s favorite game, craps, in the alleys after school.

Dangerously, I was frantic to sock it into every young girl weak enough to go for it. I had to run for my life one evening when an enraged father caught me on his back porch punching animal-like astraddle his daughter’s head. I had become impatient with the unusual thickness of her maidenhead.

© 1987 Iceberg Slim


I am lying in the quiet dawn. I am writing this last chapter for the publisher.

I am thinking, “How did a character like me, who for most of his life had devoted himself to the vilest career, ever square up? By all the odds, I should have ended a broken, diseased shell, or died in a lonely prison cell.”

I guess three of the very important reasons are lying asleep in the bedroom across the hall. I can see their peaceful, happy faces. They don’t know how hard and often discouraging it is for me to earn a living for them in the square world.

This square world is a strange place for me. For the last five years I have tried hard, so hard, to solve its riddles, to fit in.

Catherine, my beautiful wife, is wonderful and courageous. She’s a perfect mother to our adorable two-year-old girl, and our sturdy, handsome three-year-old boy.

In this new world that isn’t really square at all, I have had many bitter experiences. I remember soon after my marriage how optimistic I was as I set out to apply for the sales jobs listed in the want ads.

I knew that I was a stellar salesman. After all, hadn’t I proved my gift for thirty years? The principles of selling are the same in both worlds. The white interviewers were impressed by my bearing and apparent facility with words. They sensed my knowledge of human nature.

But they couldn’t risk the possible effect that a Negro’s presence would have on the firm’s all white personnel. In disgust and anger, I would return home and sulk. Bitterly I would try to convince myself to go back into the rackets. Catherine always said the right things and gave me her love and understanding.

There was another indispensable source of help and courage during these hard times. She’s a charming, brilliant woman. She had been a friend to my mother. She functioned as a kind of psychotherapist. She explained and pointed out to me the mental phases I was passing through. She gave me insight to fight the battle. To her I shall always be grateful.

The story of my life indicates that my close friends were few. Shortly before I started this book I met a man I respected. I thought he was a true friend. I was bitterly disillusioned to discover he wasn’t. I’m glad in a way it turned out the way it did. I’ve always come back stronger after a good kick in the ass.

I have had many interesting and even humorous experiences in this new life. They will have to wait for now. I see my little family is awake. I’ll have to light the heater. I can’t let them get up in the early morning chill.

How about it, an Iceberg with a warm heart?

© 1987 Iceberg Slim


New York CityBANG,

injection of narcoticsBEEF,

criminal complaintBELL,

notoriety connected to one’s nameBILL,

a hundred dollarsBIT,

prison termBITE,


powerful, thick, dark, gummy marijuanaBOO KOOS,




very good, excellentBOTTOM WOMAN,

pimp’s main woman, his foundationBOY,


a whore’s first trick of working dayBRIGHT,

morningBULL SCARE,

blustering bluffBUSTED,

arrested and/or convictedC,




a small glycerin container for drugsCAT,

female sexual organCHILI PIMP,

small-time one-whore pimpCHIPPIED,

light periodic use of heavy drugsCHUMP CHANGE,

just enough money for basic needsCIRCUS LOVE,

to run the gamut of the sexual perversionsCOAST,

somnolent nodding state of heroin addictCOCKTAILED,

to put a marijuana butt into the end of a conventional cigarette for smokingCOME DOWN,

return to normal state after drug useCOP AND BLOW,

pimp theory, to get as many whores as leave himCOPPED,

get or captureCRACK WISE,

usually applied to an underworld neophyte who spouts hip terminology to gain statusCROAK,


to trick or trapCUT LOOSE,

to refuse to help, to disdainDAMPER,

a place holding savings, a bank, safe deposit box, etc.; to stop or quellDERBY,

head, refers to oral copulationDIRTY,

in possession of incriminating evidenceDOG,

older, hardened whore, or young sexual libertineDOSSING,


a pimp’s pressure on a whore, or his adherence to the rules of the pimp game; when a whore starts to workFIX,

to bribe so an illegal operation can go with impunity; also an injection of narcoticsFLAT-BACKER,

a whore who gets paid for straight sexual intercourseFREAK,

sexual libertineFRENCH,

oral copulationG,

one thousand dollarsGANGSTER,


to be taken advantage of sexually without receiving moneyGIRL,


to use physical forceGORILLA PIMP,

no brains, all muscleGRAND,

one thousand dollarsH,

heroinHARD LEG,

an older, street-hardened used-up whoreHEAT,

police, or adverse street conditions for hustlersHIDE,







low level conJIB,





to turn against by vocal condemnationLINES,




victim; suckerMITT MAN,

a hustler who uses religion and prophecy to con his victims, usually the victims are womenMOP,


a temptuous term applied to the rich and privileged by the poor and underprivilegedMURPHY,

con game played on suckers looking for whoresNUT ROLL,

a pretense at stupidity or unawarenessOKEE DOKE,

a con gameOIL,

pay-off money to the policeOUTFIT,

hypodermic kit used by addictsPACIFIER BULB,

the rubber top of a baby’s pacifier used by addicts to draw up drugs through the eye dropperPIECE,

measurement of narcotics; usually an ouncePIECE OF STUFF,

one ounce of narcoticsPINNING,


wallet or bankrollREEFER,


policeman, usually plain clothesROUST,

stopped, harassed by policeSHAKE,


police recordSHIELD,


knife, usually made by convicts from various objectsSHORT,


narcotics carried on the personSLAT,

one usually refers to money or length of prison termSLUM HUSTLER,

a phony jewelry salesmanSMACK,


female sexual organSNORT,

sniff or inhaleSPADE,


a combination of heroin and cocaine injectedSPIC,


talking, a term used by older hustlers and pimpsSQUARE UP,

get out of the lifeSTABLE,

a group of whores belonging to one pimpSTALL,

an accomplice of a cannonSTAND UP,

to endure or surviveSTASH,

hiding placeSTING,


trousersSTUFF ON,

to play on or conTHREADS,

clothesTHREE WAY,

orally, rectally, vaginallyTO PULL COAT,

to inform and teachTURNED OUT,

introduced to the fast life or drugsUPTIGHT,

in trouble, financial or otherwiseVIC,

mark, victimVINE,


throw, usually applied to throwing diceWIRE,

information, message, etc.YEASTING,

to build up or exaggerateYELLOW,

a yellow capsule containing barbiturate powderPRAT,

to pretend rejection to increase desirePEEL OFF,

removal of only a portion of money from a wallet or roll

© 1987 Iceberg Slim

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Pimp: The Story of My Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all id like to say that I don't read much, but once I started this book I couldn't put it down. This book pulled my coat on the ins and outs of the grimy underworld of pimping. Once I was done I felt like it almost educated me. If you look deep enough you will see that he gives us insightful information on how to maintain relationships. This book is a must read for fans of black hardships.
LamarAdams More than 1 year ago
The writing style, particularly the slang, was hard to digest at first. It took some getting used to and at times clarity suffered. The storyline was graphic and well executed. The descriptions of his thoughts and personal relationships greatly helped with understanding his world. I would give this book 5/5 if the slang wasn't so thick and outdated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been hearing about this book for my entire life. Most people I know who have read this book have always painted it as a "life changing experience" once you have closed the last page. I think if I had read this book back when I was in my twenties, I may have felt the same. However, at the age I'm at, and with my understanding of the type of psychological tactics that are played from the streets to the high-rise, I'm less impressed with the occupational skills of the author and more in awe of the vivid descriptions of the era that created him. Let me make this clear: there is nothing really deep about being a pimp. The only requirements are to find yourself a highly damaged young woman (the younger the better) who has experienced sexual, emotional and physical abuse, and then trap her in a love-hate relationship where she will spend most of her time trying to get you to stop hating her. Even Iceberg Slim himself says that a productive sex worker is a masochist with self-image issues. I've been around enough people like this (too close really) to see how that game works. Sure there are a few other things you can toss in the mix to amp up the dysfunction, but for the most part, mix one part troubled female with one part slightly sociopath controller and you too could have made a few bucks. Nevertheless, there is nothing like having it spelled out to you and the language in Pimp alone will keep you glued to the pages. However, you have to be prepared - this book is slang HEAVY! In fact, there is so much slang that there is a glossary attached to the book to help you get through it without losing your mind. Honestly, that may not be enough for some, but, for the most part, you will be able to use context clues to figure out what is happening. On top of that, the stories are excellent. Scoop it up and read it.
MattShizzle More than 1 year ago
He was the original. Between him and Donald Goines started the "urban fiction" genre.
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MsTiptress More than 1 year ago
I'm in between good and bad with my feelings on this book. I was not to fond with the writing style of this story. Even though it had a glossary at the back I still did not understand some of the words. In the beginning I was very upset and had to force myself to get through it but toward the middle it started to pick up and keep my attention. The scenes were very VERY graphic. This is another one of those reads that should be for adults only. It was a very insightful read. But it just wasn't something I would read again. I'm just not feeling the story. This was his life, nothing fictitious about it. and because of that I can't dislike it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book as a must read book,because it enlightens the mind and takes you on a tour in the world of pimps,though its thought provoking but the lessons in the book can be applied in daily life endeavours ,so this is a must read book as well as good worth of literature for your money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Maestroe More than 1 year ago
All of you squares who think Iceberg was trying to give you something you should have already had, are stupid and as I said, square. Pimps are born not made; this thing is an art reserved for artists. We who R real, dig it as a reflection of how hard it is out here and play the hand we are dealt. He tries to speak to your sensibilty of being better. Use your God given talent of pursuasion to negotiate real paper. Game your way into Harvard, manipulate (pimp) the system on it's own terms. You are your own best Ho'. If you can "Break Luck" with a bad Bottom B**** that is willing to go the whole nine with your game and represent you properly as a mortgage broker, attorney or just a simple rich heiress of some Royal Family, then you have truly arrived. Until then, the rest of you Macaroni, Pepsi-Cola mental midgets.... keep dreamin' because you really don't know what kind of s*** a real Player has to go through to make a dollar. .....Maestroe.O(+>

P.S. These movie titles are also in the guise of glorifying "The Life", but the message is clear if you listen & learn, especially to the soundtracks. Be E Z Playaz, Be Smart & Love God. Take My Word, Been There, Done It All.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is a really good one. It took me 2 days to tread it. What i really liked about it was that it gives you a dictionary and explains what goes on in a dons life.