Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Larry Claxton Flynt (born November 1, 1942) is the head of Larry Flynt Publications (LFP), producing over twenty magazines, including Hustler with an annual turnover of around $150 million. He took part in several legal battles involving the First Amendment. He suffers from bipolar disorder and is paralyzed from the waist down after an assassination attempt.
Born in Magoffin County, Kentucky, he spent his childhood in poverty. His mother divorced his alcoholic father and when Flynt was 10 he moved to Indiana with his mother. Flynt joined the US Army in 1958 aged only fifteen, lasting barely a year. He then joined the Navy and served on the USS Enterprise. He left the Navy in 1964 and opened a strip club in Dayton, Ohio. He later owned several strip clubs and started his magazine Hustler in 1974.
He was married five times, the longest marriage was to his fourth wife Althea from 1976 until her death in 1987. She had been suffering from AIDS and drowned in a bath tub, possibly as a result of a heroin overdose. He has five children.
During a legal battle related to obscenity in Lawrenceville, Georgia on March 6, 1978, he and his lawyer Alan Issacman were shot outside the courthouse by an assailant who was never convicted. The white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin confessed to the shooting while serving life in prison for a separate crime; he said he was outraged by an interracial photo shoot in Hustler. Flynt's injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down and initially in much pain, until surgery in 1983.
After the attack, he renounced Christianity and moved with Althea to a Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles.
Flynt disowned his eldest daughter Tonya Flynt-Vega after she became a Christian anti-pornography crusader. In her 1998 book Hustled she claims that she was sexually abused by Flynt as a child, which Flynt denies. She also wrote that Jesus spoke to her from a cross on a mountainside in the Catskill Mountains, New York.
In 1974, Flynt first published Hustler as a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter which was cheap advertising for his businesses. The magazine targeted working-class men and grew from a shaky start to a peak circulation of around 3 million (current circulation is below 500,000). In November 1974 it showed the first "pink-shots", photos of open vaginas. The publication of nude paparazzi pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in August 1975 was a major fillip. Hustler has often featured more explicit photographs than comparable magazines and has contained depictions of women that some find demeaning, such as a naked woman in a meat grinder or presented as a dog on a leash.
Flynt created his privately held company Larry Flynt Publications (LFP) in 1976. LFP published several other magazines. It also included a distribution business, something that may have angered the Mafia which traditionally organized the distribution of porn. LFP did not expand beyond pornography until 1986, but later its output included more mainstream work. The distribution business as well as several mainstream magazines were sold beginning in 1996. LFP started to produce pornographic movies in 1998.
On June 22, 2000 Flynt opened the Hustler Casino, a cardroom located in the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena. After it opened many observers in the public and in the gaming industry speculated that because of Flynt's past legal troubles he could not get a license to operate a cardroom. This speculation proved to be nothing more than myth when the California Gambling Control Commission confirmed that Flynt is the sole proprietor and gaming licensee of the Hustler Casino.
Other ventures either wholly owned by or licensed by Flynt or LFP, Inc. include the Hustler Club, a gentlemen's club, and the Hustler Store, owned by Larry Flynt's brother Jimmy.
In 2001, Larry Flynt stated his net worth as $400 million.
His autobiography is An Unseemly Man: My Life as a Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast. The film The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) was extrapolated from his life, starring Woody Harrelson as Flynt, Courtney Love as Althea and Edward Norton as Flynt's attorney Alan Isaacman . Flynt himself made a cameo appearance as an Ohio judge. The film was directed by Milos Forman and co-produced by Oliver Stone.
Flynt was embroiled in many legal battles regarding the regulation of pornography vs. free speech within the United States, especially attacking the Miller v. California (1973) obscenity exception to the First Amendment. He was first prosecuted on obscenity and organized crime charges in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1976 at the behest of Charles H. Keating Jr. who headed a local anti-pornography committee. He was sentenced to 7-to-25 years and served six days; the sentence was overturned on a technicality. One argument resulting from this case went up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981 (Larry Flynt v. Ohio, 451 U.S. 619).
Because of a derogatory cartoon published in Hustler in 1976, Kathy Keeton , then girlfriend of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, filed a libel suit against Flynt. Her suit in Ohio was eventually dismissed as she missed the statute of limitations. She then filed in New Hampshire, where Hustler's sales were minimal. The question whether she could sue there anyway reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983. Flynt lost the case. (Keeton v. Hustler, 465 U.S. 770). During the proceedings, he shouted "Fuck this court!" and called the justices "nothing but eight assholes and a token cunt". Chief justice Warren E. Burger had him arrested for contempt of court but the charge was later dismissed.
Also in 1983, during a trial about his refusal to disclose the source of surveillance tapes potentially embarrassing to the FBI, he wore an American flag as a diaper and was subsequently jailed for six months for desecration of the flag.
Larry Flynt won a landmark Supreme Court decision on February 24, 1988 (Hustler v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46), after having been sued by Jerry Falwell in 1983 over an offensive ad parody in Hustler that featured Falwell. The decision clarified that public figures cannot recover damages for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" based on satires.
In April 1998 he was charged with a number of obscenity related charges concerning the sting sale of sex videos to a youth in a Cincinnati adult store owned by Flynt. In a plea agreement in 1999 LFP, Inc. (Flynt's corporate holdings group) pleaded guilty to two counts of pandering obscenity and agreed to stop selling adult videos in Cincinnati.
In June of 2003 Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutors attempted to revive criminal charges of pandering obscene material against Flynt and his brother Jimmy. Prosecutors charged that Flynt and his brother had violated the 1999 agreement. Larry Flynt claimed that he no longer had a vested interest in the Hustler Shops and that prosecutors had no basis for charging him with pandering obscene material.
During the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in 1998, he offered a million dollars for evidence about sexual affairs of Republican lawmakers. He published a magazine about the results; his investigations eventually led to the resignation of incoming House speaker Bob Livingston. He also accused Bob Barr of having committed perjury when testifying about his wife's abortion.
- The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996 film on Flynt's legal battles)
- Larry Flynt Official Website - http://www.larryflynt.com/
- Court-TV: Detailed history of Flynt's numerous legal cases
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