Few archetypes in urban culture have a more fetishized and larger-than-life image than the pimp. Everyone knows that a pimp’s elemental function is to procure customers for his prostitutes, of which he shares in the proceeds. However, of all the street characters out there– drug dealer, stoop kid, gangbanger, churchgirl– the genuine street pimp is a somewhat rarer sighting for civilians and thus has a more enigmatic rep.
In the 70’s we first started to see pimp characters grace the silver screen in blaxploitation movies, and the role quickly became an icon in its own right. The collective cinematic vision of a pimp has ranged from the outlandishly dressed egomaniac to a ruthless, flamboyant svengali who thinks nothing of resorting to violence and mayhem in order to maintain a control freak’s dominance over his women.
What both types typically have in common is extreme pride and fastidiousness in image and fashion sense, and are usually portrayed preening like peacocks in flashy retro threads. Oftentimes the pimp’s costumes are more memorable than the movie itself.
Which movie pimps are still burned in your memory, thanks to their sartorial splendor?
8. Drexl Spivey of “True Romance”
The 1993 hit movie “True Romance” stars Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette and veteran character actor Gary Oldman. Mr. Oldman plays Arquette’s pimp Drexl Spivey, who is of the violent, sociopathic variety, and for some reason seems to think he’s black. With his leather beret, dreadlocks and battle-scarred face complete with dead eye, he’s not the most creatively styled pimp out there, but who would dare tell Drexl he’s not the best dressed?
7. Fruit Juice from “Lil Pimp”
This controversial, straight-to-DVD animated feature released in 2005 stars Fruit Juice, voiced by the late comedian Bernie Mac, a pimp that takes under his wing a white 9-year old boy nicknamed “Lil Pimp” who yearns for respect from his schoolmates. Under Fruit Juice’s tutleage, Lil’ Pimp learns the rules of the game: “A pimp must possess style, must defend his turf, and has gotta turn out a square lady”. Fruit Juice has never been seen with a creased suit, bent feather or hat tipped the wrong way: one of the perks of being two-dimensional.
6. T.J. Hicks in “Deuce Bigalow”, “European Gigolo”
Eddie Griffin as T.J. Hicks in “Deuce Bigalow” was memorable, but he got really pimpin’ in the sequel: “Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo”. T.J. is a fairly level-headed pimp who loves nobody more than himself. Even in activewear, he never forget to pay homage to his roots and completes the ensemble with a pimpalicious hat.
5. John Mickens, a.k.a. Goldie from “The Mack”
From the 1973 movie,”The Mack”, who can forget the notorious golden medallion, gold-topped walking stick and white fur coat donned by Goldie, the “king of pimps” on-screen and also in real life as the character was based on a real former pimp. The movie is famous for this line: “You know the rules of the game, your bitch just chose me. Now we can handle this like you got some class, or we can get into some gangsta shit.”
Like any self-respecting pimp, Goldie’s surrounded himself with kindred spirits: check the white fedoras, wide lapels and butch mustaches on his happy entourage.
4. Flyguy from “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”
Who can forget the sombrero-like hat, loud-colored suits and his trademark platform shoes with live goldfish swimming in the Lucite soles: an evergreen inspiration for Halloween costumes everywhere since the 1988 movie release. Say hello to Flyguy from the movie “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”, played by Antonio Fargas.
3. Cordé Christopher from “Boss ‘n Up”
Snoop Dogg in his best pimp incarnation: his role in the 2005 musical “Boss ‘n Up” as Cordé Christopher puts him on the list. Nothing says success like a fur hat, lavish fur-trimmed coat and hot scantily-clad girls.
2. Willie Dynamite (Willie Dynamite)
Who knew that Gordon from Sesame Street was once a pimp? Roscoe Orman played Willie D in this 1974 blaxploitation flick before his acting career took him to a very different neighborhood on daytime TV. What would happen if Willie D showed up on the street where “everything’s– AAAA OK”? Oscar the Grouch would gnash his teeth over that debonair green suit and fur cape.
1. Dolemite from “Dolemite”
Dolemite is simply a legend. The character, created and played by Rudy Ray Moore has become the reference of all things pimpin’ since the 1970’s and well after the blaxploitation movie era had passed. Who else could pull off lavender glitter shades with a gilded python fedora and matching jacket… and still, somehow, look heterosexual?
Unjustly framed for possessing stolen goods (drugs and fur coats, naturally) Dolemite proves he is ambitious and a multi-tasker by attempting to simultaneously re-establish his street cred while avoiding the detectives that set him up.