Jack Horkheimer – Star Hustler 🌭

Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler was a PBS mini-show about amateur stargazing, and not an obscenely pornographic science fiction rock opera. Not until I finish writing it, anyway. 

Star Hustler was a quirky little educational show hosted by a nice old man who just happened to have an obscene sounding last name, and used a word in their title whose meaning changed over the years. It’s not like astronomers in the 1970s were a swingin’ bunch of fuckdorks who filled planetariums with their Laser Orgies and jammed telescopes you could use to see the fabric of the universe straight up their assholes. 

It was not that. 

It just really looked like that. 

He just really looked like that:

Showrunners even had to change the name in the late ‘90s — it became Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer, and while Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer still fucks, it doesn’t fuck sideways and twice at once like Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler

There’s just one problem: All of that is bullshit.

Maybe the word ‘hustler’ didn’t have perverse connotations until the magazine launched back in — let’s check, 1974? And Star Hustler started in 1976? Huh, that’s weird timing, isn’t it? Well, let’s ignore it. Before Hustler Magazine gave the word pornographic connotations, it could mean one of two things: Minor conman, or prostitute.

There is no scenario where these people named their show Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler with big ol’ innocent cartoon eyes unblemished by both cocaine and semen.

The series seriously, no joke, opened with this poem:

Some people hustle pool,

Some people hustle cars,

Now here’s that man you’ve heard about,

The man who hustles stars

You cannot be more explicit than that, at least until the kids leave the planetarium and ‘Stars After Dark: Thick Thursday’ kicks into gear. 

So the opening of every show straight up says that Jack Horkheimer is a space criminal and then he rolls into the episode like this:

That’s the third pimpest thing I’ve ever seen, and that’s only because I have led a shockingly pimp-rich life. I’m not using that word in the slang sense, either — I mean Jack Horkheimer literally looks like he runs prostitutes. You put a red fur coat and aquarium shoes on that man and he’s MCing the next Player’s Ball.

But that’s just how The Hork does it:

He spends the whole show zipping about in increasingly hilarious ways, and while that’s not technically listed under “pimpalicious” in The Pimp’s Almanac, it is very much in the same spirit. Dude is one shatter-wipe to a red convertible away from a Bad Boy Records video. 

Here he is shatter-wiping to a red convertible.

The elevator pitch for the Hork’s show was “5 quick minutes of naked eye stargazing,” and that’s also how he asks you to watch him masturbate. His episodes were full of weirdly suggestive titles that took their cues from romance novels, like:

Which sounds like a naive young woman about to discover fantasy horsecock. Notice it ends in an ampersand. Here’s part two:

I don’t know what that means but I am sure it’s a sex crime, Hork.

I’m sorry, that’s disrespectful. According to a profile piece on Horkheimer he prefers that:

“…friends call him “His Horkiness.”

You look that man up there straight in the eye, and you picture him saying “please, call me His Horkiness.” 

Now, be honest with me: in your mind’s eye, is he wearing pants? No, he is not. Is he wearing a jaunty little bowtie specifically tailored for his penis? Yes, of course he is.

‘Star nerd’ just seems like a weird career match for the living avatar of 1973, right? Astronomer isn’t an inherently perverse profession like ‘disc jockey’ or ‘nightclub jazz musician’ or one of those theater directors who are just a little too excited about amatuer nudity on stage. 

All of which Hork was:

“Before becoming a disc jockey and nightclub jazz organist… he dabbled in theater, and once threatened to sue his university if one of his plays – a ribald, nudity-laced comedy called “If the Shoe Fits, Eat It” – wasn’t put on (it was).” 

Jack Horkheimer was a space skeeve, I defy all rebuttals. I do not yield my time! 

“Horkheimer dabbles in bonds, has an American Express Gold Card and belongs to the Playboy Club.”

The Playboy Club membership suggests I’m on the right track here, but it’s that Gold AmEx that really seals the deal. That is the shag-carpeted hot tub of 1970s credit cards. You can choose the picture on a Gold AmEx but only from a selection of vulgar ukiyo-e prints. That card has a special lubrication strip just for sliding it through asscheeks.

“[Hork] wears a $10 electric watch and a ring set with a second-century BC bronze coin from the reign of Ptolemy VI of Egypt. He has a heavy metal plaque embossed with the word “HUSTLER” on his key ring.” 

Just existing like this is a crime in the less funky states. There are heavy fines in Delaware for wearing jewelry that gaudy. You get two years for a HUSTLER keyring in Connecticut. In Rhode Island, it’s the death penalty. There is a 97% chance that the keys on that ring fit into a Rambler RV with Uranus airbrushed onto the side. There is a 104% chance that Hork calls it “the Rimbler.”

“[Hork] drinks only champagne, which he buys 10 cases at a time, in vintages varying from cheap, oversweet Andre to dry, costly Moët & Chandon. He makes champagne cocktails by pouring the bubbly over a lump of sugar laced with Angostura bitters, and laps them up delicately, cat-like, one after another.”

If somebody said that shit in a literal documentary about pimps, you would laugh, because it’s too pimpin’. I am not praising, or even endorsing his behavior, but I hope I have left no doubts in your mind that Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler taught the repressed PBS set about watersports and perhaps (double)handedly dicked astronomy into the public consciousness.

Hork out.

4 replies on “Jack Horkheimer – Star Hustler 🌭”

Learning Day just gave Fucking Day a Milky Way sized facial. And I’m here for it. #starlabballin

I’m in love with his Horkiness. Thank you so much for going down this rabbit hole. Now to lap up my bitters and bubbly cocktail.

I remember this show from when I was but a lad, untaught in the ways of pimp-ness. What you didn’t mention in this article, Mr. Brockway, was the absolutely amazing theme song this show had. It’s called “Arabesque No. 1” by Isao Tomita. It’s like having your ear tongued by a synthesizer and also you’re definitely in space. Perfect for this truly excellent show.

I grew up in Miami, where the Hork was always on local television. Thank you for bringing attention back to this absolutely legendary madman. The world needs to know about His Horkiness!

He was almost as wild as flamboyant Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado (“El Walter!”), who was equally ubiquitous on South Florida television.

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