About Robert Lee Maupin Beck
Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born as Robert Lee Maupin in Chicago, Illinois on August 4th, 1918. He died on April 28, 1992 at age 73.
Taking "Iceberg Slim" as an assumed name, Robert started pimping at 18, and continued until age 42, when he decided against it in 1960, after a final 10-month prison stretch in solitary confinement. At that point, he decided to write about his past instead.
In 1969, his first autobiographical novel was Pimp: The Story of My Life, published by Holloway House.
Reviews of Pimp were mixed; it was quickly categorized as being typical of the black "revolutionary" literature then being created. However, Beck's vision was considerably bleaker than most other black writers of the time. His work tended to be based on his personal experiences in the criminal underworld, and revealed a world of seemingly bottomless brutality and viciousness. His was the first insider look into the world of black pimps, to be followed by a half-dozen pimp memoirs by other writers. Of his literary contribution, critic West, H. wrote in the Washington Post:
"Iceberg Slim may have done for the pimp what Jean Genet did for the homosexual and thief: articulate the thoughts and feelings of someone who's been there."
One of the more entertaining aspects of Slim's books are the glossaries in the back which define key terms of " the life ". These glossaries have become important sources for dictionaries of slang and studies on black English, in which he is cited repeatedly as a source. These definitions come from Pimp: The Story of My Life
- bottom woman: pimp's main woman, his foundation
- breaking luck: a whore's first trick of a working day
- jasper: lesbian
- macking: pimping
- square up: to get out of the life
- pull someone's coat: to inform and teach