Photo by Gregory Bojorquez

E. Raymond Brown swears he isn’t looking for controversy with his new book, Will the Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up! (Dreamscape Publishing). He just wants to speak his mind about the primal forces that drive American capitalism and that shape, and warp, American society in ways too many to count. Brown’s book, which effectively blends street energy, humor and high philosophy, is a scathing critique of pimps of all stripes as well as a frank acknowledgment of their power — an inflammatory topic that manages to avoid being a screed. Brown is quick to say that by pimp and ho he doesn’t mean the figures of black urban stereotypes, but a much broader phenomenon of exploitation in which someone is always seeking to profit at the expense of someone else. It is a paradigm that considers nobody sacred — the “pimp gallery” features Malcolm X, Snoop Dogg and George Bush — and one that Brown sees as a force as relentless as yin and yang. “Pimping has become such a total obsession in the world,” says Brown, a computer technician for the Los Angeles Unified School District who has studied Taoism, among other things. “It’s going to the gas pump and getting charged 20 cents more. It’s the raw dynamic of everyday life.” Response to the book has ranged from enthusiasm — close to 100 people lined up for a signing in a South L.A. store recently — to uncomfortable silence. But Brown also notes that pimping, once you get past the obvious negatives, has the potential to liberate. “A pimp is also someone who takes charge and participates in his own evolution — look at Malcolm,” he says. “It’s understanding what’s at work and then using it to your own advantage. And hopefully somebody else’s.”

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