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When Larry Flynt published an unflattering parody of Jerry Falwell in Hustler, Falwell waged a suit that eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled in Flynt's favor, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech.
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Born Larry Claxton Flynt, on November 1, 1942, in the Appalachian village of Lakeville, Kentucky, Larry Flynt became one of the world's most well-known publishers of pornography and unlikely champion of civil liberties. With the publication of his flagship magazine, Hustler, Flynt set off a firestorm, dragging into the eventual fray Jerry Falwell and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Publisher, civil liberties advocate. Born Larry Claxton Flynt, on November 1, 1942, in the isolated Appalachian village of Lakeville, Kentucky. He was the eldest of three children born into a poverty-stricken family, where his life was a struggle from the start. In 1951, tragedy struck when his four-year-old sister died of leukemia. A year later, the Flynt family unit began to disintegrate. Larry’s parents, Claxton and Edith, separated; his brother, Jimmy, stayed with his maternal grandparents; and Larry moved with his mother to Hamlet, Indiana.
In his early teens (under a false age), Flynt spent a year in the U.S. Army until he was discharged because of low test scores. He then joined his mother in Dayton, Ohio, where he held various jobs, including one at a General Motors Assembly Plant. Flynt soon grew frustrated with his job, and sought the familiar discipline of the military. This time he enlisted in the Navy, where he outshined first time recruits because of his previous experience. He eventually landed an esteemed position aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. With a renewed confidence, Flynt took correspondence courses and received his high school equivalency.
After a five-year stint in the Navy, Flynt returned to Dayton, where he bought a local bar and transformed it into a successful strip club. Within a year he expanded business, opening similar clubs in Columbus, Toledo, Akron, and Cleveland. The establishments quickly gained loyal customers, which influenced Flynt to send out a short newsletter about upcoming events to his growing clientele.
During the next few years, Flynt’s life became a whirlwind of flashy clubs, cars, and women. He had fathered four children (all by different mothers) by 1974. Around this time, he also met a 17-year-old dancer named Althea Leasure, who became his most trusted advisor, eventually managing his 300 dancers. The couple married in 1976.
Fueled by his vision that the artsy layouts of Penthouse and the unattainable models of Playboy alienated the average man, Flynt set out to launch his own men’s magazine. Using his newsletter as a template, he nationally released the first issue of Hustler magazine in 1974. Geared toward working-class men, Hustler’s contents were implicitly anti-establishment and class antagonistic. The publication prided itself on hard core depictions of raw sex, which often included graphic nude photos of disabled, pregnant, and elderly women. One issue featured nude pictures of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, while another depicted a woman being feed into a meat grinder.
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