Larry Flynt, founder of pornographic magazine Hustler and a series of strip clubs across the United States, has died of heart failure at the age of 78 on Feb. 10.
Flynt first founded Hustler Club for adult entertainment in 1965, which expanded into several cities in the U.S. Then, he launched an advertorial newsletter for his strip clubs, which became the Hustler magazine in 1974.
The magazine often received criticism of being obscene and degrading to women due to its sexually explicit nude photos. Feminist Gloria Steinem described him as “a violent, sadistic pornographer.”
The magazine faced several legal battles over obscenity laws, turning Flynt into a strong advocate for free speech rights. The lawsuits were memorialized in the 1996 film The People vs Larry Flynt, which earned Oscar nominations.
His publishing company Larry Flynt Publications expanded to include other sexually explicit publications including Barely Legal, Beaver Hunt, and Asian Fever. It also distributed gay-themed magazines turning Flynt into an unexpected ally of the LGBTQ+ community when at that time, other distributors refused or feared to distribute such magazines.
In 1978, he was infamously shot, permanently damaging his spinal cord and leaving him partially paralyzed. Years later, his shooter identified himself as white supremacist and serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who allegedly claimed an interracial photo shoot in the Hustler magazine as his motivation.
Flynt also faced controversies in his personal life. In 1998, his daughter Tonya Flynt-Vega accused him of molesting her as a child, which Flynt denied.
Flynt’s empire expanded into the film industry with the Hustler Video film studio, pornographic film production and distribution company VCA Pictures, and several domestic and international TV channels for adults.
Flynt also tried to enter politics, running for president in 1984 and for governor of California in 2003.
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