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LARRY FLYNT R.I.P.

R.I.P. Larry Flynt 1942-2021

 

Back in the beginning of this century—2003 to be exact—I found myself (as in, “Hey self, look at where I found you?!”) sitting across from my mom’s cousin, a reporter for a local FOX station in California. Trying desperately to avoid talking about politics, a subject I know nothing about, I was eating and jawing best I could. It wasn’t so much that I cared a whit about the ladies leanings, for or against, (not only is this a subject I know nothing about, I don’t care that I don’t know anything about it) but over dinner there at that Sacramento eatery, California’s then gubernatorial race was brought round to the conversation. I offered that Larry Flynt happened to be running that year (porn was undoubtedly a subject I knew about and kept up with), which everyone around the table knew and quickly poo-pooed. I agreed the Hustler magnate was not your typical politico, although he also took a stab at running for president back in 1984. But I reminded the table that it was Mr. Flynt who took his infamous Hustler Magazine v. Falwell obscenity case to the supreme court, fighting for his, and subsequently all of our, First Amendment rights.

Flynt was sued for libel by the evangelist Jerry Falwell for publishing a fake ad in Hustler. He depicted Falwell saying his first sexual experience had been with his mother in an outhouse. Indeed, a bad taste joke; nobody, not even Flynt, would ever admit he had good taste. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Flynt’s favor, overturning a lower court’s ruling that had initially awarded Falwell victory. The court decided, as tasteless as that ad might be, it fell well into the realm of parody and was protected by free speech.

As an interesting side note, ten years after the verdict, Falwell contacted Flynt, and the men began appearing together to bandy about moral issues and First Amendment conundrums.

Having claimed his first sexual experience was with a chicken, way back when he was growing up in poverty in Lakeville, Ky, Flynt was undoubtedly an interesting character by any stretch of the imagination. Serving in the Navy, working as a bootlegger, and then finally finding his way into the bar business, it was when he began to advertise for his “Hustler Clubs,” that he first published Hustler. Initially, a 2-page newsletter promoting the specific ‘delights’ customers could find when visiting one of his establishments. This newsletter became so popular that Flynt expanded it into the Hustler magazine we know today.

In 1975, a year into its publication run, Flynt purchased naked photos of Jacqueline Onassis. The issue of Hustler that those photos appeared in sold more than a million copies and made Flynt a millionaire. From there, he built his empire to include retails shops, casinos, and other magazines (not all porn). Leaving court in 1978 from yet another of his obscenity trials, Flynt was shot by serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, leaving Flynt paralyzed from the waist down. Through terrible pain, not a small pain killer addiction, his wife Althea drowning in her bathtub, and constant vitriol from the mainstream, the man continued to build his empire and poke the status quo.

Flynt claimed he never objected to society considering him a smut peddler, but in the same breath, wanted to be known as a First Amendment crusader, too.

Published by: lickingnonvanilla

Licking Non-Vanilla is a podcast and blog about kink, sexual mores and writing dirty words. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, pull up your favorite easy chair and sail into the dark, sweet waters of all things naughty… on Licking Non-Vanilla, with your hosts Ralph Greco, Jr. and M.Christian.

For more information about the article and author, visit: Licking Non-Vanilla

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