Love him or loathe him, America can’t ignore Larry Flynt. And that’s exactly the way he wants it.
As a legendary defender of the First Amendment—his Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine v. Falwell was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt—the iconic pornographer is also known for his political discourse. And recently, he’s chosen to take aim at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
After the thin-skinned real estate heir defended the size of his penis during a recent Republican debate—“I guarantee you there’s no problem,” he doth protested—Flynt released an open letter demanding that Trump pull out or shut up. “I have a team of doctors ready today to conduct the examination required to confirm your boast,” Flynt wrote. “If you reject this offer, I can only conclude that you are not the man you say you are and that your bragging about your penis size is as fraudulent as Trump University.”
Flynt, who still runs Hustler magazine, chatted with The Daily Beast about the 2016 presidential race, Hustler’s future, and the size of Trump’s manhood.
Considering how familiar you are with politics, what are your thoughts on America’s circus-like 2016 presidential election?
It is a circus. I see a different outcome in this than most people. Despite Hilary’s problems I think she’ll beat Trump or Cruz, either one. I think the Republican Party can’t recover from this. Trump has offended about every group he can except white men. The only difference between Trump and Cruz is Trump just says all this crap but Cruz believes it—and that’s what makes him so dangerous.
Speaking of Trump, were you surprised that he’s turned it into such a media circus, making the size of his fingers in relation to the size of his penis actual talking points?
No, I’m not surprised. There’ve been other people in history that have been a lot like Trump. I just watched a documentary about Mussolini and it’s uncanny the resemblance they have, not only in their speech but their whole persona. Trump controls what I call the low-information voters, the low-hanging fruit. I think very few intelligent people are going to be voting for Donald Trump.
In an open letter to Donald Trump you offered to have doctors examine and verify the size of his penis. Do you think the size of a man’s penis could affect his ability to lead or govern?
I definitely think there’s a lot of truth there. Not necessarily in relation to a man’s fingers, but the kind of cars he drives and the kind of buildings he builds, it all has to do with trying to compensate maybe for a lack of manhood. Trump’s probably got a three-inch dick.
Why do you think American politics has gotten so crazy?
There’s no decorum left. You need a little stability in everything and I would hope things get back to normal after this race is over—or at least I would hope so.
You also speak in a very raw, direct manner that some take offense to. As you’ve said before, that’s when the right to free speech matters most: when it offends someone.
It’s one thing to speak frankly and clear and have your position understood and it’s another thing to unnecessarily demean people for their race or religion or their culture, and that’s where Trump went too far. Everybody says, “It doesn’t seem to hurt him, he keeps getting more voters.” It looks like he’s getting more voters but he’s really not. When this is all over, people are going to say why did I pick that guy? I assure you that a lot of Republican women will vote for Hillary. They will hold their nose and vote because they can’t stand Trump.
Yes, Trump has a polarizing effect on people. So are you endorsing Hillary for president?
I am because I think she’s the most qualified person running. That’s what you got to do when you look at both parties: you see who’s running and you evaluate them not on party but individually, which one is best equipped to be president. And I think Hillary is. We have some important Supreme Court nominations coming up and foreign policy will be a central part. I think people interested in having more security and less turmoil in the economy will want somebody levelheaded like Hillary.
According to polls, Trump isn’t doing well with women voters overall. Some think he’s a misogynist, which you’ve also been accused of being. Back when I was in the adult business, I recall Hustler was one of the more gentle companies making porn. That said, do you think your company’s treatment of women is contrary to your reputation?
I worship women. Always have and always will. Gloria Steinem tells the world they don’t want to be sex symbols, well I got news for Gloria and her cohorts: women have always been sexy and always will be. I’m a feminist at heart but I think women will always enjoy having car doors opened for them.
Speaking of which, back when most porn stores hadn’t yet considered the female consumer, Hustler seemed to cater to women. I noticed this in the early-to-mid 2000s. I was on a Hustler store tour and no matter which state I was signing autographs in, they all had the same female-friendly vibe. How was Hustler ahead of the curve on this?
We brought the adult bookstore out of its shitty atmosphere and glamourized it. We cater mostly to women, whereas the old adult bookstores cater mostly to men. We’ve sold millions of vibrators, probably saved more marriages than the pope.
What do you think of Playboy going non-nude?
That’s probably one of the worst publishing mistakes I’ve ever seen. You can’t take away the magazine’s most viable feature. I think it’s a silly mistake. They should compete more directly with magazines like Hustler. We’re basically the only one left standing now.
So will you keep publishing Hustler magazine?
As long as its making money I’ll publish it. But when it’s not then I wont. We’re going online with the digital issue, we’ll have all of our archives online. We’ll keep it modernized and up-to-date.
I’ve heard you don’t enjoy Quentin Tarantino films because you find them too violent. Given that, what are your thoughts on the increased violence in pornography?
I’m opposed to anything extreme. Anybody tries to characterize me and they find out I’m into plain old vanilla sex. I guess I’m kind of boring.
So if you’re interests are more vanilla, what do you find desirable in the opposite sex?
You stand them on their head and they all look the same; they look like sisters. Most guys are a tit man or a butt man but I’m a pussy man.
Do you think there’s such a thing as going too far in porn? Can it be too extreme?
I don’t think violence really has a part in it. Bondage is a very popular fetish, but I don’t look at that so much. Violence is an aberration of fetishes, but to each his own, I guess.
Do you think the way men and women find each other attractive has changed over the years?
No I don’t—and the same thing applies to porn. Men are more aroused by what they see and women are more aroused by what they hear or read. It’s part of the DNA that I don’t understand, but it happens to be true.
What are your thoughts on free speech and porn in America today?
Free speech means free expression and free expression is not free—you have to defend it all the time. It’s not for freedom of what you love, it’s for freedom of what you hate the most. If you can defend the right of someone to say every vile, offensive thing they can, if you can defend their right to do that, then you can defend the right to free speech, otherwise I don’t think you can. The greatest right any nation can afford its people is the right to be left alone, and that’s what Americans want: they want the right to be left alone. I think it’s an important thing to remember.