Larry Claxton Flynt (born November 1, 1942) is the head of Larry Flynt Publications (LFP), producing over twenty sex magazines, including Hustler with an annual turnover of around $100 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 joined the US Army in 1958 aged only fifteen, lasting barely a year. He then joined the Navy. He left the Navy in 1964 and opened a strip club in Dayton, Ohio. By 1970 he ran eight such clubs throughout Ohio in Columbus, Toledo, Akron, and Cleveland.
In 1974 he first published Hustler as a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter which was cheap advertising for his businesses. The magazine grew from a shaky start to a peak circulation of around 3 million (current circulation is below 500,000). The publication of paparazzi pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 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. The company did not expand beyond pornography until 1986, but currently LFPs output includes more mainstream work.
He 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 by Charles Keating who headed a local anti-pornography committee. He was sentenced to 7-25 years and served six days; the sentence was overturned on a technicality. One argument resulting from this case went up to the US Supreme Court in 1981 (Larry Flynt v. Ohio, 451 US 619).
During a similar battle he and his lawyer were shot outside the courthouse in Lawrenceville, Georgia on March 6, 1978 by an assailant who was never apprehended; the white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin is believed to have been the gunman. Flynt's injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down and initially in much pain, until surgery in 1983.
He 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. Also in 1983, during a trial about his refusal to disclose the source of surveillance tapes potentially embarrassing to the FBI, he wore a flag as a diaper and was subsequently jailed for six months for desecration of the flag.
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.
He has married five times, the longest marriage was to his fourth wife Althea from 1976 until her death from AIDS in 1987.
He had a one-year flirtation with evangelical christianity, converted by evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton (sister of President Jimmy Carter) in 1977.
On June 22, 2000 Flynt officially opened the Hustler Casino a cardroom located in the Los Angeles, California suburb of Gardena. Contrary to popular belief Flynt does in fact own the Hustler Casino. According to the California Gambling Control Commission records the Hustler Casino is licensed to Larry Claxton Flynt, Sole Properitor. It was widely believed by many that Flynt's longtime attorney and friend Alan Isaacman owned the Hustler Casino because Flynt's past legal problems which could have disqualified him from holding a gaming license if he were ever convicted of a felony.
Other ventures either wholly owned by or licensed (but not owned) by Flynt or LFP, Inc. includes the Hustler Club a gentlemen's club and the Hustler Store owned by Larry Flynt's brother Jimmy.
Politically, Flynt's magazines defend a mixture of liberal and libertarian positions. 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 lead 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.
Flynt's oldest daughter Tonya Flynt-Vega became a Christian anti-pornography crusader and was disowned by him. In her 1998 book Hustled she claims that she was sexually abused by Flynt as a child.
In June of 2003 Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutors are attempting to revive criminal charges of pandering obscene material against Flynt and his brother Jimmy. Prosecutors claim that Flynt and his brother violated a 1999 agreement in which Flynt's company LFP, Inc. and Jimmy Flynt agreed not to sell explict material at the Hustler News & Gifts store in Cincinnati, Ohio. Larry Flynt claims that he no longer has a vested interest in the Hustler Shops and that prosecutors have no basis in which to charge him with pandering obscene material.
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. It was directed by Milos Forman and co-produced by Oliver Stone.
In the 2003 California recall of Governor Gray Davis, Flynt announced his candidacy as a Democrat. He established a website at www.flyntforgovernor.org.