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Larry Flynt Interviewed

WWW [Lexington Herald] – Larry Flynt is an Eastern Kentucky native who made a fortune by selling extremely sexually explicit materials.

In the late 1970s, he announced that he had become “born again.” He even appeared on a leading Christian television program, Jim Bakker’s PTL Club, to talk about his faith journey.

But he kept on publishing.

Flynt, who now rejects Christianity, spoke to Herald-Leader reporter Frank Lockwood about guilt, God and being born again.

Question: Did you grow up in church?

Answer: Very much so. They used to have all the holy rollers that would come around and throw up their tents and play with the snakes. That sort of thing. (That’s) the kind of fire and brimstone I was raised in.

Q: What was your family’s reaction when you started Hustler magazine.

A: All of my family, from grandparents, to mother and father, were religious. They never said anything to me and I never said anything to them.

Q: Not a word?

A: Not a word.

Q: Did you ever feel guilty?

A: No, because I always felt that the whole body was made by God. And if you have a problem with it, you should complain to the manufacturer, just like you do with Ford Motor Co. or General Motors. If you get a bad car, you complain to them. I never saw the body as being obscene and sexuality is one of the greatest gifts we have. Other than the desire for survival, the strongest single desire we have is that for sex. …

Q: How did you become a born-again Christian?

A: Well, you talk to anybody about how it happens and you don’t know how it happens. Just one day it happens. You get that warm feeling over you and almost in a way that you’re somewhat possessed. I knew it wasn’t a normal feeling, but more of a spiritual feeling. Ironically, this is the problem I have with people who have born-again experiences. Often, that’s not what it is. It’s a bipolar condition that can be treated easily by a physician, but most of them don’t want to seek medical help for what they profess to be a spiritual awakening. So they just become involved with their local church. …

Q: During that time period, you were actually on the PTL Club. Am I remembering that right?

A: Yeah, I went down with Tammy (Faye) and Jim Bakker. They invited me down when they’d heard about my experience. It wasn’t a put-on with them. When I went there I was very serious in terms of sharing what had happened to me and how I felt as a result of it.

Q: So you were sincere?

A: Oh yeah, very sincere.

Q: What were they like?

A: I thought Tammy and Jim were great. They were good hosts, and they were very accommodating. They did a good show. If you remember at the time, they were probably the biggest show in the country.

Q: Do you think God exists?

A: (Long pause.) No.

Q: Why?

A: If you are a well-read person and you’re drawing on all aspects of history and scripture, there’s no way that you can conclude the existence of God …

Q: It’s your view that he probably doesn’t exist at all?

A: Hey, I wish he did, because there’s some people I’d like to join in that hereafter. I’m not saying that with any type of blasphemy tone to it. And I’m not trying to change anybody’s mind. If God helps them get through the day, more power to them. They’re entitled to those values and beliefs and I wouldn’t dissuade anybody from believing in God. … I guess there’s a lot of truth to what Lenin said when he made the comment that religion is the opium for the masses. … (Flynt then spoke about attempts to limit his industry.) You know you’re not supposed to be putting a computer in an 8- or 9- or 10-year-old’s room. It’s supposed to be in the family room where it can be monitored. If that’s not good enough for you and you’re still bothered with it, well then, throw it in the trash can, because nobody told you to buy it. I’m insulted by the fact that parents will go to Washington and demand that the government be the baby sitter. You know, we have to be responsible parents if we’re going to raise our kids.

Q: Is there anything folks in Kentucky should know?

A: The county I was born in in Kentucky, Magoffin County, was the poorest county in the country in 1969 when Johnson ordered the study on poverty. I know what it’s like to be poor. I know what it’s like to be able to dream about things that normal people can’t have. Money in itself is not that important to me. It just gives me the freedom that I need to do the things I want to do.

Q: Why do you think the church worries so much about (the growth of pornography in the United States.)

A: Let me tell you why, OK? … If they can control your pleasure center, they can control you. They want to tell you that sex is evil and bad. … They want to take one of the greatest things that their so-called creator gave them and tell you how bad it is.

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