By Chris Gore | July 4, 2001

The image of pimps is about to get a makeover courtesy of this documentary from the Hughes Brothers, the creators of Menace II Society and Dead Presidents. In American Pimp we get an intimate look at these men who peddle flesh. It just so happens that real-life pimps are also some of the world’s flashiest dressers. American Pimp uses clips from seventies’ pimp movie classics such as The Mack and Willie Dynamite in an effort to learn about the lifestyle. What we learn is that these seventies movies were dead-on in their portrayal of pimps who actually admit to using those movies as a guide. We meet the men behind the stylish clothes, guys like Filmore Slim, C-Note, Gorgeous Dre and Rosebudd – all larger than life characters with a true gift of gab. The real sweetheart is Don Bishop — he’s not just a pimp — he’s a big celebrity who still loves his mother.
This strangely entertaining look at pimps does show the true cost of living this sad, drug-filled existence by interviewing the prostitutes themselves. While the documentary attempts to dispel myths, all it does is reinforce all the pimp cliches: they wear gaudy clothes, they drive Cadillacs, they take all their “b*****s” money and they beat their w****s. I mean “hos”. And the biggest problem I have with this movie is that it seems to glorify pimps. I didn’t learn anything new. Oh, I did learn that there is no “ho” health plan, so that was something new. Ultimately, the HBO documentary “Pimps Up, Hos Down” is a much more satisfying look at these ambitious “businessmen.”

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