'Smut Peddler' Larry Flynt Dies at Age 78

Cincinnati was once part of the Hustler founder's empire of strip clubs and was the backdrop for charges that Flynt had sold porn to a minor.

Larry Flynt - Photo:  © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com
Photo: © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com
Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt, king of smut and lawsuits, died Feb. 10, TMZ reports. He was 78.

Sources tell TMZ that Flynt died of heart failure.

Flynt is perhaps most famous for his empire in the adult entertainment industry, notably for founding the explicit and frequently violent and demeaning Hustler Magazine, which is credited with displaying the first photos of open vulvas (“pink shots”) in a publication. He also had a series of Hustler strip clubs — including in Cincinnati — pornographic films and casinos.

The mogul frequently was the source or the target of lawsuits, particularly those dealing with obscenity laws. In 1988, he won the landmark case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that parody is protected under the First Amendment and public figures like televangelist Jerry Falwell were not entitled to damages in such parodies.

In 1998, Flynt's store Hustler News & Gifts pleaded guilty to pandering obscenity in Cincinnati. Though Flynt and his brother Jimmy were indicted on multiple charges in the case, including disseminating material harmful to a juvenile, charges against the individuals were dismissed after the brothers accepted a plea agreement to stop selling adult videos in the city altogether.

Flynt was vocal about politics, even running for U.S. President in 1984. Especially in his later years, Flynt considered himself to be progressive and in 2017 offered a $10 million reward for information that would lead to U.S. President Donald Trump being impeached. Flynt once described himself as a "smut peddler who cares."

Born in Lakeville, Kentucky in 1942, Flynt was raised in poverty and bounced around homes and jobs until joining the U.S. Navy in 1960. According to his autobiography An Unseemly Man: My Life as Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast, Flynt was the operator on duty when the USS Enterprise was assigned to recover astronaut and Ohio native John Glenn’s space capsule.

Below, check out links to some of CityBeat’s stories about Larry Flynt, his endeavors and his legacy here in the Queen City.