Flynt Discusses Free Speech at XBIZ Retail Expo

LOS ANGELES — Larry Flynt discussed free speech and the state of the adult retail industry on Thursday afternoon at the first-ever XBIZ Retail Expo & Conference, addressing a crowd of more than 150 in a special appearance at the Stone Rose Lounge inside the Sofitel Hotel.

With his daughter Theresa Flynt, who heads the Hustler Hollywood retail operations, and LFP Inc. President Michael Klein by his side, the Hustler founder was introduced by Castle Megastore CEO Mark Franks. Flynt began by referencing something he said in early 2008.

“Three years ago I made a prediction for this industry that about half of the production houses in the city and many of the internet sites would start falling by the wayside, and as retail goes, quality is key,” Flynt said.

“I said that you must have stores that draw both sexes and are female friendly. When you go into a Hustler Hollywood it’s like going into a Sax’s Fifth Avenue or a Neiman Marcus. This atmosphere has allowed us to cultivate a whole new shopper, primarily female. Hustler stores have become a destination for people.”

Flynt reiterated that “quality” is more important than ever because “we’ll always be the sleazy industry that we started out as in the very beginning” to some in America.

After his opening remarks Flynt answered a brief series of questions, the first of which was about his new book, One Nation Under Sex: Exposing Past Presidents’ Sex Lives, which will be available in May. He said that publishers of history books “tend to be conservative” and mostly overlook the sexual exploits of our country’s leaders.

“This information has always been available but historians have ignored it,” Flynt reasoned. He noted that his book will shed light on the mistresses, First Lady’s and lovers “and how these relationships affected domestic and foreign policy.”

Flynt then talked about his landmark Supreme Court decision in 1988, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, when the late Reverend Jerry Falwell sued Flynt about an offensive ad parody in Hustler that suggested Falwell’s first sexual encounter was with his mother in an outhouse. The unanimous decision in Flynt’s favor made parody a protected form of free speech, clarifying that a public figure cannot recover damages over “intentional infliction of emotional distress” based on parodies.

“Parody was unprotected speech for over 200 years,” Flynt noted, pointing out that this pivotal ruling paved the way for today’s onslaught of porn parodies, as well as much of the joke fodder seen and heard on late-night talk shows. That Supreme Court case is now taught at law schools across the country.

“I’m very happy for that. I’m happy for that contribution,” Flynt said. “… If I can make any future contribution, it’s that I did really fight and expand the parameters of free speech because without free speech we’re not free.”

Flynt went on to say that the question of legalizing marijuana use was “a no-brainer” and in his opinion pot is less damaging than alcohol. He added that adult stores ought to be able to operate like head shops if they want to.

The adult icon wrapped up his comments by referencing lyrics from a Janis Joplin song. “Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose,” he said. “This is more true today than it has ever been in our history.”

“No one else is going to guard our freedom other than yourselves. We can depend on our politicians to do it but they’ll sell you out every time,” Flynt said. “Think about what you stand for and what you’re willing to fight for.”

Flynt received a standing ovation when it was over.