Larry Flynt. You love him or you hate him.

If you hate him, there’s no telling whether you’re a right wing Christian or a right-wing feminist. If you love him then you could be anybody; a blue collar worker, a banker, a student, a college professor, or a television evangelist. But more than likely, the thing that you love/hate is exactly the thing that they hate/love.

If you were a baby the day Hustler Magazine was born, you’re old enough to drink, smoke, vote, fuck, and read the magazine legally now. (You can’t buy it on a military base anymore, though...just die for the right to go into town for it.)

The man from Kentucky who gave America its first up-close-and-personal look at women’s pussies sits solid in a wheelchair now. And whether you love him or you hate him, his spine took a free-speech terrorist’s metal-clad load and bore the fruit that preserves your right to tell it like it is.

Flynt isn’t an airbrushed millionaire wrapping himself in pretty words as an apology for all the naked women sprawling along the pages of Hustler, Busty, Barely Legal or any of the other three adult magazines he publishes. Pornography is art, Flynt doesn’t need to be justified by other art. There are those, and they express themselves loudly and emotionally, who would argue that Flynt’s work is not art but trash. Whichever it is, it’s covered under the First Amendment and Flynt has more than paid the price to be left alone to publish it.

While visiting Portland in mid-December to promote his new autobiography, An Unseemly Man ( to be reviewed in the February issue) and The People Vs. Larry Flynt, the upcoming biographical Milos Forman film, Flynt shared his thoughts about relationships and sexuality with me after a hard day’s fighting in the mainstream media trenches.

The sincere citizens who had vigorously condemned him at an earlier taping of “AM Northwest” and “Town Hall” would probably have been shocked by Flynt’s sincerity when he discussed his wish that “the sexes could come together” and honestly communicate what they value about one another. Popular American mythology, for instance, tells us that the average man desires large breasts on his woman. Flynt insists that this is just not true. “I think it’s about 20 - 25%. The rest of the men place absolutely no emphasis on breast size.” Because men have allowed this false notion to become accepted as fact, “a lot of women are having implants simply because they want to be more appealing. To me that’s a bit depressing.” Not sentiments you’d expect an “exploiter of women” to express.

Women, on the other hand, have allowed the Myth of the Big Dick to be spread from coast-to-coast. Most men experience feelings of sexual inadequacy on some level or other because of the misconception that big dicks equal instant orgasm. Any woman who’s blundered through sex with a well-hung man can tell you that she’d rather have something manageable and satisfying than something getting by on fame alone. Echoing any number of marital counselors and advisors, Flynt recommends open communication should begin earlier in a relationship, rather than later. But considerate honesty at any point is a wise investment.

Once we accept that women can be sexy with any size breasts we move into a diverse sexuality marketing area. Flynt’s most recent adult venture is Barely Legal, which features models from 18 to 21 years of age. In a market rich with options now (due largely to Flynt’s painful legal victories) Barely Legal continues to attract new readers. Its models, in the first blush of legal womanhood, safely satisfy a common fantasy: attainable women still fresh with youth.

But, whether you like them innocent and youthful or worldly and wise, every one of you wants to be the one that makes her sing your praise for your skill as a lover. Most of you, though (ok...maybe not you but the next schmuck who reads this article), tend to fall short some of the time. Flynt, with the experience of 22 years of publishing hard core porn and reading his magazine’s letters to the editor, has some advice for improving your odds. Oral sex. “I think that women love oral sex if it’s performed properly. But eight out of ten men don’t know how to do it or aren’t interested in doing it, in terms of seeing that she’s satisfied.” Once again, women share some responsibility for ensuring harmony in the bedroom. “No woman wants to offend some guy by telling him ‘you don’t know how to suck pussy.’” But, in order for men to improve as lovers, women must overcome their inhibitions in the bedroom and improve their ability to communicate their needs.

We agreed that men and women must look beyond mere penile/vaginal penetration in order to enjoy mutually satisfying sexual pleasure. Once we accept that there are a myriad ways to fully pleasure your partner and yourself, some without orgasm, the number of anxiety related sexual dysfunctions will decrease. Part of this, however, Flynt insists, must be a willingness and an enthusiasm for responding to the interest women have in oral sex. Twenty-two years ago such insights might have eluded him; but today he is a sexual being who has had to make radical changes in behavior after a disabling injury. Such basics have become especially important.

It’s hard not to be surprised by the mature insights of a man who once appeared before the Supreme Court clad in an American flag diaper. Time spent in prison on obscenity charges and a racist’s bullet, as well as years of reader feedback, have increased Flynt’s understanding of human sexuality. His brief brush with fundamentalist religion after a bi-polar disorder induced a “born again” experience (successfully treated with lithium), has given him valuable insights into many of his free-speech opponents.

“...This God culture society we live in, this constant condition of people being filled with guilt” even affects most liberal families. Parents insist they are honest with their children about sexuality, but Flynt still sees signs of repression and guilt. “Why do they always lock the bathroom door? Why don’t they want their kids to see them change their clothes?” he asks.

While his religious foes, “Falwellians” he calls them, attack him on religious and moral grounds, radical feminist and victim’s rights groups insist that Flynt oppresses and sexually demeans women in an industry allegedly built on institutionalized rape and coercion. According to Flynt, the women are coming to him. In fact, he says, “There’s a surplus out there. We have a tough time each month deciding which one we’re going to use, not where we’ll get new ones from. The girls are there, they want to do it. They don’t feel exploited. Most women, I have found, figure they’re young, they’ve got great bodies, they’re not going to have it forever, so why not do it?” Pragmatic professionals. It sounds like Flynt’s women are making informed decisions, strongly endorsed by genuine feminists last time I checked.

Ultimately, Flynt’s take on those who would see his publishing empire producing only mall-colored magazine content is thus: “They’re all geared up and ready to throw away the Constitution because it was drafted by some fogey old men who didn’t know what was going to be going on 200 years from then.” A strong condemnation of a group which claims to view the Founding Fathers with nearly religious regard.

Even with the opposition, Hustler is going strong, especially in the former human-rights hell, South Africa. Before internationally respected freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela became president, all pornography was illegal. Now, Hustler is experiencing “a bonanza” in both South Africa and Australia. America, Flynt contends, wants “to give the rest of the world the impression” it’s very sexually liberated, but “nothing could be farther from the truth.”

Having visited Amsterdam during a business trip to Sweden and Holland, Flynt was exposed to things which even surprised him. Men and women on trapezes having sex, a black man pulling his huge, nearly orgasming cock from a woman and turning, as though to come on the audience, a midget eating a banana from a woman’s obliging pussy; a two hour show with each act being more fascinating and outrageous than the last. Compared to this, Hustler seems almost tame. Yet it sells well, enjoying 19 years in Sweden.

These are some of the thoughts of Larry Flynt as he travels the country promoting his new book and the nationally acclaimed film dramatizing his life. Not one to rest on his laurels, he is also focusing his attention on his newest project, Home Town Girls. What Hustler’s popular monthly feature “Beaver Hunt” begins, this new venture will expand. He has photographers roving the country taking pictures of “girls in their natural settings: their apartments, their condos, shopping at the market. We really try to take that ‘girl-next-door’ look one step forward.” “Beaver Hunt” pays a couple hundred dollars for photos of girlfriends and wives, sent in by readers. Each year Hustler releases the Beaver Hunt Special, one of its best selling yearly specials. Home Town Girls seems destined to be a hit.

Love him or hate him, Larry Flynt is an articulate and thoughtful man who, perhaps because of his humble beginnings, has learned something that most religious and intellectual elitists seem to have missed. The man who, even as the king of a publishing empire, still reads his readers’ feedback letters, knows that one learns the most about human nature and oneself by listening to what others have to say.

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