"The House That Flynt Built: From a Sharecropper's Shack to a Skyscraper of Skin"
Q and A With Dan Kapelovitz
With its recent expansion into the video, men's club and retail markets, the Hustler empire has spread everywhere but to the War on Terror's frontlinesóand a lawsuit is changing that. Publisher Larry Flynt discusses past controversies and current successes.
Larry Flynt has parlayed a single strip-club newsletter into a worldwide media empire. More importantly, as would-be Speaker of the House Bob Livingstone and other Washington hypocrites have learned, Flynt has become a factor on the political landscape that cannot be dismissed.
As he looks back on 28 years of spreading legs and closing deals, the porn king speaks candidly about pussy, politicians and his current lawsuit against the Pentagon over the right to send correspondents to the front lines of the war on terror.
HUSTLER: What is the government afraid you would find if the Pentagon allowed Hustler reporters to go on military missions?
FLYNT: We all know, when the government makes a mistake, they cover it up; so that's the primary reason why the government doesn't want the press in their hair. Any time people are sending their sons to fight and possibly die for their country, they deserve the right for the war to be documented by a fair and unbiased press, and that's the whole issue. When you exclude the press, you really deprive people of their liberties. Bush has found himself in a unique, opportunistic position in that people are willing to give up their liberties for security. Benjamin Franklin said that those willing to give up their liberties for security deserve neither. Many of the modern-day politicians should take a page out of Ben Franklin's book.
HUSTLER: Has the Bush Administration had an effect on the content found in LFP magazines and videos?
FLYNT: No. But as soon as John Ashcroft is through fighting the war, they'll probably focus on porn. Prosecutors can have all of the fantasies they want to about prosecuting an obscenity case, but they need the consensus of 12 jurors in order to get a conviction. Times have changed in the past 30 years, and Americans now feel that they have a right to view whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes.
Ashcroft covered up the breast of the Spirit of Justice statue that stands behind him in press conferences. Can you imagine the hang-ups that guy's got when it comes to prosecuting porn?
HUSTLER: Why did it take LFP so long to start producing videos?
FLYNT: Really, stupidity on my part. Every time I would think about getting into video, I would talk to some of the people in the industry, and they would say, "Stay away from it; the profits aren't there. It's too difficult. Stick to publishing; you know what you're doing." And so I was sort of put to rest on that issue, but I always felt that the Hustler brand name translated into some value; I did not know what. When we opened Hustler Hollywoodóthe most successful erotic boutique in the countryówe saw that people wanted a T-shirt with HUSTLER on it, a jacket with HUSTLER on it. That experience made me say, "I think this desire for the Hustler brand will also translate to video." So we got into video three years ago. We're the second-largest video company in the country now, and we're in the process of making an acquisition here in Los Angeles that would make us the largest video producer and distributor in the country.
HUSTLER: Would you ever appear in a boy/girl Hustler photo set?
FLYNT: Who would want to see my skinny ass?
HUSTLER: Is it true that you can judge a woman's personality by looking at her pussy?
FLYNT: I can. Not many people can, and I can tell exactly what a woman's pussy looks like by looking at her mouth. A woman that has thin lips, chances are she's not going to have thick, puffy labia; her lips are going to be thin on her pussy as well. If a girl has a very succulent mouth and is very lippy, I always find that her pussy is the same way.
HUSTLER: But can you also determine something about a woman's personality by looking at her vagina? For instance, can you tell if she's going to be a hot fuck, or if she's going to be dishonest?
FLYNT: I can usually tell more readily than most people can. It's something that's sort of like a sixth sense; you either have a knack for it or you haven't.
HUSTLER: Besides fucking a chicken, what is the wildest thing you have ever done sexually?
FLYNT: Isn't that wild enough? When I was a 17-year-old sailor in the Navy in Cannes, France, I went ashore to a brothel. By myself, I took 20 women, and I had myself a private little orgy. My back went out on me, and my friends had to help me back to the ship that night.
HUSTLER: How did you get the money for 20 chicks?
FLYNT: I won it in a poker game.
HUSTLER: Looking back on your career, what would you do differently?
FLYNT: I can tell you what got me in the most trouble, and it's the only thing that ever appeared in Hustler that, if I were given the opportunity to do it again, I wouldn't publish. When Ford was president, Betty Ford had a double mastectomy, and it was Christmastime, and we ran a full-page cartoon of a silhouette of a woman standing there in the White House saying, "All I want for Christmas is my two front tits." We got so much mail, and not one positive letter. Everybody was talking about how uncouth and insensitive it was. I felt that the cartoon was really over the top, we should have toned it down, but it had already been done. But no one argued the point with me until we published it, and I really wasn't thinking of the reaction or the consequences, and I even lost my own mother to breast cancer.
I can't think of anything else. That's saying a lot, for all the years we've been publishing, not to have any regrets except maybe one cartoon. That's a pretty good record.
HUSTLER: If you were President, how would you have handled September 11th?
FLYNT: Not much differently than Bush has. I think he deserves high marks for the way he's waged the war. But remember, we investigated Bush for years before he was President. We know a lot of things about him that other people don't know. He is a right-wing fascist and a bigot. He was born into oil, he's still into oil, and the small businessman or the average worker has no place in Bush's circle. What's eventually going to do him in is the economy. In the end, people vote their pocketbooksóthe only exception was the last Presidential race, which I think Gore won, quite frankly, but they made such an issue out of Clinton doing a very human thing and telling a lie about it, Bush was able to skate in there. His house better be in order both economically and as far as his foreign policy goes by the time the next election rolls around, or he won't be reelected.
HUSTLER: What do you think of CNN censoring your remarks about your investigation into Bush's past from its official transcript of the interview [Crossfire, October 20, 2000]?
FLYNT: I make the press really skittish, because they can't dismiss me as a flake. They had to take me seriously when I won the unanimous decision in 1988 against Jerry Falwell and made parody protected speech. They had to take me seriously in the DeLorean cocaine-trafficking case, when I went to prison for 15 months for refusing to reveal my source. They had to take me seriously when we exposed Bob Livingston, Speaker-elect of the House. We had the goods and, if we had not, they would have stepped on us like a bug. We've always survived with our credibility intact. You may not like what we do or say, but we're gonna do it, and we're gonna say it.
HUSTLER: If Hustler were to do an Asshole of the Century, who would it be?
FLYNT: You've got to single out the person who poses the most danger to our civil liberties and our civil rights, and that person is John Ashcroft. I think that when Bush uses the word evil, he should occasionally look over at Ashcroft, because this guy is evil personified. He's extremely dangerous.
HUSTLER: What are you most proud of in Hustler's 28 years?
FLYNT: We have never, ever compromised. Hustler is a wild card because we make our money on newsstand price and not advertising revenue; so the advertisers have no control over us, and the government has no control over us.
(This article first appeared in the July 2002 issue of Hustler Magazine)
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