Ever since I first saw American Pimp I have been meaning to see this competing “pimpumentary” which came out the same year and was covered in the same articles. Someone even told me it was way better because the pimps are crazier and flashier. But now that I’ve finally seen it I gotta say, I disagree. This is the poor man’s American Pimp. The made-for-tv American Pimp. This is the Carnosaur to American Pimp‘s Jurassic Park. If American Pimp is The Beatles, Pimps Up is a Monkees cover band. When they’re older and less inspired, and thinking of breaking up.
The filmatics in this one simply is not as good. American Pimp was finely sculpted in such a way as to explain the pimp culture, how they are viewed in society, what is important to them, how their job works, etc. Pimps Up doesn’t explain shit. It’s just a bunch of interviews, some of them very entertaining, but thrown together pretty much at random. Since I saw it on dvd it is the director’s cut, which I think just means they added in about 30 minutes of extra ass shaking. Alot of it takes place at strip clubs or at pimp conventions where they just have strippers shaking their asses alot. Which, sorry fellas, but it gets old. There are other documentaries which cover that territory better, many of them from companies like Vivid or Hustler.
Speaking of porn, American Pimp had classic blaxploitation era funk and soul, but Pimps Up has cheesy fusion funk straight off of a bad porn movie. And I say a bad porn movie to differentiate from the good porn movies, which in fact have classic blaxploitation era funk and soul.
Also, I hate to say it but the pimps were better in American Pimp. Alot of these ones seem like the rejects from the American Pimp casting call. I guess at the same time that is one of the virtues of this picture, because these are the freako pimps like White Folks, who does not give credit to Iceberg Slim even though he takes his name from Trick Baby. In the book White Folks was a light skinned conman who passed for white to infiltrate the racist white upper class and steal their scratch. Here, he’s just a white dude who pimps. He is supposedly accepted in the pimp society, but I don’t know why, because he looks bad in those fucking clothes. He wears them too tight and that makes him look older than he really is. If I saw him on the street, I swear I wouldn’t even know what he was supposed to be. Even if he was reciting some rhyme about “I sell pussy by the gram, pimpin White Folks is who I am,” it would probaly still take me a couple minutes before I thought, “Oh, you’re a pimp, not a golfer. I get it.”
Then there’s a lady pimp who dresses just like all the other macks, and wins a condescending “Female Pimp of the Year” trophy in one scene. But it’s kinda disappointing to find out that her “stable” are just strippers and not hoes. So she’s really only one step closer to illegal than being a manager at Hooters.
What’s best about this one is showing the ridiculous side of these guys taking their industry so seriously. Again I gotta compare them to the fuckos in Trekkies because they are so involved in this world that they lose all touch with the outside world. There is a scene where a guy talks completely seriously about having a pimp seminar so they can teach people how to tell their wife and kids they are leaving them to become a pimp. There is footage of industry award ceremonies and even a “Player Cruise” on a love boat type water vessel. White Folks says that being a pimp is just like being a policeman or a fireman, accept less accepted by society. And almost all of them claim to have wanted to be a pimp since they were a kid, or to have started by pimping their babysitter when they were 11.
There is one celebrity guest, the rap singer Ice-T who claims he used to be a pimp, and attends their industry events. He tries to show off for all the pimps and tells a pretty good, but probaly bullshit, story about how he used his skills as a hand grenade salesman to talk his way into the record industry.
I would recommend this picture to all Outlaw Cinemaphiliacs interested in the pimpumentary genre, however ONLY as a supplement to American Pimp which is, not sure if I mentioned this but, it is the better one, American Pimp.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.