When legendary sleaze merchant/iconoclast Larry Flynt - who turned the willingness to go all in on female nudity into a publishing empire and a lifelong battle for Free Speech - died, my buddy Rear Admiral did a typically brilliant profile of him. Summing Flynt up with, "Outrageous. Salesman. Envelope-pusher. Brilliant. Agitator. Filth merchant. Goes too far. Misogynist." Spot on.
Well now, three months later, his FBI files have been released. And the details are just as bonkers as you'd expect from a guy who went way beyond dabbling in pushing boundaries; he turned it into a lifestyle. He waged a one-man crusade to make it so nothing was off limits. And in doing so, became the guy that made even the staunchest First Amendment absolutist question whether there needs to be limits. Which I guess is what you'd expect from a porn peddler who declared his mission in life was to "offend every single person in this world at some point."
Given that, according to the Feds he swore at every member of the Supreme Court, plotted to blow the place up, leaked info about Federal drug sting operations and was looking for ways to kill his rivals, it's fair to say he checked all those boxes on his Scumbag Bucket List.
Vice has broken down the highlights of the released files. I suggest you check there to read them more in depth, but here I'm just sticking to the SparkNotes version. The highlights of the highlights.
Flynt was not going to be filling any Friend of the Court briefs:
On Nov. 8, 1983, the Supreme Court heard the case of Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc. involving another defamation lawsuit. This one was brought by Kathy Keeton, the co-founder of Penthouse magazine, in response to a cartoon that falsely suggested she had contracted a venereal disease from Bob Guccione, Penthouse’s publisher and her longtime partner. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in her favor.
Flynt had tried to convince the court to allow him to argue his own case before them, but he was denied. Things turned ugly from there. …
As the justices wrapped up the hearing, Flynt shouted: “Fuck this court! You denied me counsel of my choice. I won’t be judged by nine assholes and one token cunt—goddamn motherfuckers!” according to a transcript of audio recordings from the court that was part of the FBI file.
Flynt attempted to open his coat to reveal a T-shirt reading “Fuck This Court” underneath, but the marshals quickly whisked him out of the room to a side chamber, where he was placed under arrest.
When Flynt wasn't dropping C-bombs on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he did send her a subscription to his magazine:
In the weeks preceding the Supreme Court hearing in the Keeton case, Flynt began sending Justice Sandra Day O’Connor a complimentary subscription to Hustler. A list included in the file that detailed the subsequent correspondence noted that O’Connor’s secretary wrote back asking Flynt to remove the justice from the magazine’s subscription list. Flynt replied: “Fuck you, cunt. I’ll take you off Hustler’s subscription list when you resign from the court.” He then added her to the subscription list of other magazines he published.
Flynt plotted to pull a Hector Salamanca on SCOTUS:
Paralyzed from the waist down thanks to an assassination attempt. Which, while some might consider that a disability, he saw it as giving him an ability. To smuggle explosives past security so he could destroy one of the three branches of the U.S. government.
Flynt allegedly asked Mitch WerBell, a weapons expert who ran a guerrilla training school in Georgia, and Gordon Novel, a private investigator, to fill the hollow metal tubes of his wheelchair with C-4 explosives impregnated with needles for the maximum effect, the informant said. The men refused, and WerBell later discussed swapping out Flynt’s wheelchair before the hearing, in the event he managed to convince someone else to do it for him, the informant said.
Flynt pissed off the Feds no end by revealing that they were running a major drug sting on the creator of Marty McFly's time machine.
[John] DeLorean’s sports car company was on the brink of collapse and he found himself in the middle of a $24 million cocaine deal that he hoped would save his business. But it all turned out to be an undercover FBI sting. While the bust drew international headlines, it was ultimately revealed to be entrapment and turned into a huge embarrassment for the FBI. …
[S]urveillance videos and audio recordings that showed an informant threatening the auto executive … somehow ended up in Flynt’s hands, which he handed over to “60 Minutes” and played for reporters at a press conference.
The leak of the tapes infuriated prosecutors and a judge ordered Flynt to reveal how he’d gotten them. When he refused, he was held in contempt, jailed, and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. Through it all, Flynt taunted the legal process, once showing up in court wearing a flak jacket and a diaper fashioned out of an American flag.
Flynt had a hit list that included entertainment icons and his rival smut peddlers. And his hired gun died under mysterious circumstances:
Years after WerBell’s death, investigators in Los Angeles claimed to have uncovered a plot in which Flynt paid him $1 million to assassinate Frank Sinatra, Bob Guccione, Hugh Hefner, and Walter Annenberg, according to news reports at the time. The plot was foiled when Flynt’s assistant stopped payment on the check. WerBell, who once developed a sophisticated weapon silencer dubbed “whispering death,” died suddenly a month later. A witness in a later murder trial testified that Flynt’s brother-in-law admitted he and Flynt slipped a powerful heart relaxant into WerBell’s drink not long before he died.
As the old saying goes, a coward dies a thousand deaths, while a hero dies but once. And a muckraking trouble maker who lives to offend everybody while pushing every boundary in every direction he possibly can while possibly being involved in multiple murder plots while an army of federal agents keeps tabs on his every move? That man lives forever.
The pervert is back? He never went away.