Larry Flynt

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FROM THE OXFORD STUDENT: Interview: Larry Flynt, porn mogul, on the stigma around sex, that assassination attempt, and born-again Christianity

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Awaiting the arrival of the porn world’s top dog, a mid-afternoon G&T in the Union bar felt like a good move. The powerhouse behind America’s unsurpassably explicit mag Hustler, countless porn films, and Hustler Casino, Larry Flynt has topped the porn hierarchy since the 70s. Dutch courage seemed wise. Hence my later surprise to find myself back in the bar with the man himself jovially suggesting I give him a call if ever I happen to be in LA: “I know all the best restaurants.” Virgin Airlines on speed-dial, anyone?

Nor would we have expected this giant of the porn industry’s blank expression at a Kama Sutra-related question during his hour-long talk. The ensuing hilarity of the Union President describing the sex manual amidst the crowded cluster of attendees was worth the membership fee in itself. Banter aside, Flynt had a lot to say about free speech and liberties. Predictably enough, he’s not a fan of the stigma around sex, and criticised the tendency of some to impose their own values on others. If sex is our second strongest desire after survival, he asked: “Don’t you think we’d try to understand it a little better?” Flynt contrasted the unending stream of violent images plastered across the media with the outcry that would arise if a sexual picture made a newspaper’s front cover: “We live in a society that condemns sex but condones violence.” Not escaping critics in the audience, he was then challenged by a student who saw war photography as emphasising the value of life as opposed to what he regarded as the demeaning, damaging porn industry.

Flynt was, unsurprisingly, not to be budged from dismissing any downsides to his business (“porn and obscenity are not synonymous”), but his resolution wavered when his family was dropped into discussion. After one listener stood to ask whether children should be shielded from sex if it isn’t a toxic subject, Flynt hesitated. His daughter is forty now, he said, and “one of the biggest squareheads I’ve ever met”, but when she was five she used to play on the pages of Hustler. Flynt added: “I often wondered if this was good or bad”, but ventured no further.

(For full interview, click here.)

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