Porn Valley- He’s a peddler of smut who knows that “plain old vanilla sex” is easy to defend in court.
A guardian of free speech who says the USA Patriot Act brings tears to his eyes for its “decimation of civil liberties.”
A critic of moralistic hypocrisy who calls right-wingers “sexual degenerates” and views America as a “society that condones violence and condemns sex.”
Larry Flynt, the 60-year-old founder and publisher of Hustler magazine, rolled into San Francisco Thursday to promote a new book encapsulating old and favored themes: sex, lies and politics.
Flynt had a reading Wednesday night at Book Passage in Corte Madera and stopped in Thursday for a lunchtime chat with reporters, editors and staff at The Chronicle.
Seated in a gold wheelchair — he was shot and paralyzed by a white supremacist in 1978 — and wearing a black pinstripe suit, purple silk tie and diamond and jewel-encrusted watch, bracelet and rings, Flynt was charming, insightful and perplexing. True to his name, he was nothing if not flinty, taking on everyone from the president to the Supreme Court.
“Bush as president is the most inept, unqualified person who has ever occupied the office,” said Flynt, not one to mince words.
Pointing to the Supreme Court’s decision barring a recount in Florida after the last presidential vote, he said, “Our high court lost a great deal of prestige and respect over that particular ruling.”
Flynt, who rose from poverty to be porn potentate and was sympathetically portrayed in a movie starring Woody Harrelson, spoke fondly of outing naughty politicians, called Bush a “Jesus freak,” dismissed feminists as “ugly women” who march and cast the media as “weak.”
His wife of six years, Liz Flynt, was traveling with him. The two live in Los Angeles with their three dogs.
He was a bundle of opinions wrapped in more than a few contradictions.
He insisted he wouldn’t knowingly employ a Republican, yet he champions freedom of expression. He is opposed to teenage girls’ getting breast implants yet uses ample cleavage to sell his magazine and lure customers into his strip clubs. He is openly partisan and relies on checkbook journalism, yet criticizes the mainstream media as lazy and muzzled by conservative management.
A chapter in Flynt’s new book, “Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth,” is titled “Media Piranhas and Poodles in the Press.” The book covers a six- year period, from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton to today.
“This period is the most bizarre six years in the history of our nation,” Flynt said.
He is deeply disturbed by the direction of the country.
“You can run images of a decapitated mutilated body on a front page or on the evening news, but run a photograph of a naked woman, and you go to court,” he said.
The man who has long used the First Amendment as a shield to battle obscenity charges has a particular passion for exposing the private behavior of public figures.
Televangelist “Jimmy Swaggart preached against me for 15 years,” Flynt said. “When he was busted with a prostitute, they found a copy of Hustler in his motel room.”
Flynt offers money for dirt — and gets it by the bucket. When he tired of what he saw as constant “Clinton bashing,” he took out an ad in the Washington Post offering rewards for information on government officials who had committed “sexual indiscretions.”
As a result, Rep. Robert Livingston, a Republican from Louisiana who was to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House of Representatives, was prompted to confess that he had engaged in adulterous affairs, and he resigned.
“I’ve been called a bottom feeder,” he said smiling. “I say, ‘Yes, but look at what I found when I got down there!’ ”