The Shmooze

Meet Clifford Scheiner, Orthodox Doctor and Leading Porn Collector

By Michael Kaminer

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It’s not surprising that Dr. Clifford Scheiner, a self-proclaimed Orthodox Jew and student of Talmud and Torah, poses in today’s New York Daily News holding a book. What might raise eyebrows is that the tome in question is the illustrated biography of ‘70s porn star Vanessa Del Rio.

Scheiner, according to the News, “has one of the largest collections of pornography and erotica in the world… An enormous hoard of 350,000 books, films and photos — from 13th-century manuscripts to every issue of Playboy and Screw magazine ever printed.”

The 61-year-old former Brooklyn emergency room doctor with a Ph.D. in sexuality “has been collecting since the late 1960s, but he insists his fascination is purely academic,” the Daily News says.

Scheiner’s collection “gives that of even the famed Kinsey Institute — with holdings of 430,000 items — a run for its money,” the News reports.

For years, Scheiner kept his vast collection in a West Village space, the report says. But in 2003, the building was sold and he was forced to move “160,000 pounds of books,” which all ended up “jammed into a $5,000-a-month, 1,400-square-foot Flatbush storage facility,” where the collection remains today.

In recent years, Scheiner “has turned his interest to Orthodox Judaism and spends his days poring over the Torah and the Talmud.”

Scheiner told the News he estimates he has spent $1 million over the years on the collection. “But that is over a 30-year period, so actually it’s like $30,000 a year,” he said. “That isn’t a whole lot.”


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