Since Bob Dylan was the surprise winner of this year’s Nobel Prize, those aghast at the announcement (mostly writers without Nobel Prizes) have taken comfort in Kevin P. Simonson’s 1991Hustler interviewwith Kurt Vonnegut, in which the author labeled the songwriter the “worst poet alive.” This insult from the guy who turned out Slapstick!
In addition to being wrong about Dylan, Vonnegut’s hatred for the magazine’s infamous owner, Larry Flynt, also seems off-base. It’s not that the publisher was or is a charmer (he’s not), but his “literary output” proved much more influential than Vonnegut’s, with pornography today available on every phone in every pocket. He was right about human nature, whether we like it or not.
If you think that’s good or not depends on what you prefer: a repressed though less outwardly ugly society where things are hidden, or one in which there’s way too much information and everything may be revealed. The latter can be discombobulating, but I think the former is more dangerous.
Click on the exchange below to read a bigger version.
Larry Flynt seems like an awful man, so it’s a shame he was right about so many things. This video, made in 1996 at the time of the release of The People vs. Larry Flynt, touches on his period as a born-again Christian, among other topics.
Because he was too busy masturbating with both hands, Hustler publisher and free-speech advocate Larry Flynt only now has realized that print media is on the endangered species list. From an article by Geoff Herbert at Syracuse.com:
“The 70-year-old political advocate is also getting ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hustler. The porn publication was first published in 1974 but Flynt admits it might not appear in print much longer, like Newsweek, Spin and The Sporting News.
‘I think magazines are becoming passé,’ he said. ‘They’ll always be around for people who enjoy that coffee table copy of their favorite magazines, but for the most part I think print media is on its way out, including us for that matter. That’s why we’re going up with a digital/online version.” (Thanks Mediabistro.)
What does it mean that Al Goldstein and Larry Flynt were once, not too long ago, considered the filthiest, most disgraceful people in the nation and now even the most obscene thing they were selling can easily be viewed on a computer screen in any home (and on most phones) at every single moment? Were they ahead of their time? Were they the McLuhans of filth? I’m not even talking about a battle over civil rights but one about human nature. It seems now like they were merely announcing the future, and one that has been overwhelmingly accepted and approved by the country that was so outraged by them.
A relatively modest moment for Goldstein was this interview he did with mental minstrel Tiny Tim roughly 30 years ago. The language is very NSFW unless your work involves a gloryhole.
From “Larry Flynt at Home,” Jean Stein’s Los Angeles Review of Books recollection of the puke-inducing pornographer/Constitutional rights champion at the height of his powers in 1983, as he was planning a Presidential run. In this segment, screenwriter and novelist Terry Southern has been summoned to Flynt’s Los Angeles lair, by a wired Dennis Hopper, to work on a dubious film project about Jim Morrison:
“The next guy to arrive was Marjoe — you know, that guy who used to be a child evangelist. And the other person who was a permanent guest for the moment was Madalyn Murray. Madalyn Murray has devoted her entire life to trying to get the Bible outlawed in school. She’s a professional atheist, very courageous. For some reason Larry Flynt was interested in her cause. I think he wanted to fuck her … mind-fuck her I mean.
About 4:00 P.M. Larry Flynt comes in and says, ‘Sundowner time. Time for a sundowner.’ He’s in a wh
eelchair. His wheelchair is motorized and gold-plated, and it has little American flags like on an ambassador’s car. He’s wearing this big diaper he had made up from an American flag.‘They treat me like a baby,’ he said, ‘so I’m going to behave like one. And if I poo-poo in my diaper, I’ll be poo-pooing on the American flag.’ He’s trying to explain this to this huge Indian — what the hell is his name? He’s a great Indian guy who’s about seven feet tall … Means, Russell Means. He’s there, and meanwhile I hear this shouting, and it sounds like a big argument, but it’s just Liddy and Tim Leary rehearsing their act, I mean their ‘debate.’ About time for dinner, Frank Zappa arrives, you know him. Quite a grand zany. So there’s this very long table of odd people.
After dinner Larry said, ‘Come into my study, Terry, you’re going to need some money for the weekend.’ We went into his office and he said, ‘There’s a briefcase by the couch where you’re sitting. Put it on your lap and open it.’ So I did. It was full of packs of hundred-dollar bills. Larry said, ‘It’s a million dollars. I have this on hand to give validity to the offer.’ And he showed me this circular: A standing offer from Larry Flynt to the following women who are prepared to show gyno-pink. One million cash to Barbara Bach, Cathy Bach, Barbi Benton, Cheryl Tiegs … They were mostly kind of obscure, but there were one or two that were totally out of place, like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. He was offering them a million dollars if they’d pose and do a gyno spread, what he called ‘flashing pink.’ And so he said, ‘Take whatever you think you’ll need for the weekend,” and he made a point of turning around to use the phone so I could take what I wanted. When he finished his call, he asked, ‘How much did you take?’
‘Two hundred dollars.’
‘You must be a fool — you could have taken more.’
I said, “I don’t think I need any more than that.’