By the time mid-afternoon had crashed into a busy lunch that featured local Nuevo Mexicano delicacies laid out on a table for me like it was a party or something—hey apparently it’s always a food party at Garcia’s Kitchen, I just hadn’t noticed, somehow—I had to retreat to mi chanti to do a heap of research about pornography, freedom of choice, Woody Harrelson and the first amendment.
Before tooling all the way up Menaul in my motorized white plastic object, post-lonche for my meeting with Larry Flynt, I stopped and purchased a tank full of gasoline and took a deep breath while wintertime clouds swirled all around the hood.
It certainly had been a surreal day. The mayor gave a speech that morning. Before he entered the auditorium, someone rocked out “Master of Puppets” through the PA at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Outside, on the lawn jugglers and stilt-walkers caroused with firemen, bureaucrats and ordinary folk intent on demonstrating civic pride
Things were getting better, the mayor authoritatively intoned. They were going to continue to get better, too, but everyone had to get involved in the process, hizzoner told gathered Burqueños.
I wandered outside, took a picture of an old cop car—que suave!—and ate a tortilla burger even though I had to meet my mother-in-law at Garcia’s at 1:30.
By the time I got to the new Hustler Super Store on Menaul—in the Hoffmantown area, if you really want to know—I felt like an over stimulated lard bucket and not necessarily sexy at all.
My wife wiped a red chile stain off my coat, we met our friend the camera man and went inside to wait for Flynt, whom I was to interview as part of my duties as News Editor at Weekly Alibi.
The place was already busy. All sorts of humans who were probably but not certainly interested in sex were forming a line; some of them were perusing the plethora of adult novelties on sale at the new Hustler retail outlet and the local legacy rock station was doing a live remote.
After about half an hour, members of Flynt’s entourage began drifting into the shop. They were all impeccably dressed, smiling, tanned and healthy—definitely showing off a So-Cal vibe. I thought about that one song by Tupac as we waited; at one I point looked at my wife and said while smiling brightly, “California knows how to party.”
When Flynt finally appeared, it was as if some sort of royalty had descended from the stairs at Versailles. His entire wheelchair was gold-plated. He had more rings on his fingers than Ringo and Snoop combined. He had a sardonic expression and was rocking fine yet casual threads. I checked my cell phone at that point and an app I recently downloaded called Money Shot told me that the cool quotient had just shot through the roof. Serio.
After about an hour of signing this and that and handing out the latest issue of Hustler Magazine, one of Flynt’s assistants called me over and said we could chat for about seven minutes, mas o menos. I sat down next to the living legend, deciding to use humor to break the ice.
Weekly Alibi: You bear a striking resemblance to Woody Harrelson.
[Larry Flynt raises his left eyebrow, and smiles wanly]. Thanks. You’re the journalist from the underground newspaper, right?
What would you like to know?
Well, I’m looking out here and seeing a very diverse group of humans openly celebrating their sexuality. It seems very healthy. How did we get here?
There are less and less people who a have a legitimate dislike of what we offer. It’s worth noting that, 50 years ago, something like this gathering might not even have been possible.
How did that happen, what cultural forces caused this change in how we express ourselves?
Cultural differences have waned and people have discovered what’s really important to them.
Do you see that sex-positive change as part of your legacy?
Hmm … Other people tend to think of legacy more than I do. People have a right, an individual right to this, it’s part of their civil rights.
You’ve long been a defender of the First Amendment, and despite all the progress we see here today, there are still challenges ahead, especially with the current administration. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, we will always have to fight for individual rights. It’s that simple. You cannot take those rights for granted, that’s what everyone needs to realize.
How do you think we can best fight for our rights?
First of all, none of us should be afraid to voice our opinions. We need to voice our opinions, even if they are contrary to the what the government says. You should not feel weaker for saying what you believe. Otherwise you run the risk of being manipulated.
Do you think that you and your work have made a difference in the lives of Americans?
Well, I’m no miracle worker but I would say that I’ve saved more marriages than the pope.
I had a friend who told me he believed that you have freed more people than all of the presidents …
That’s all I ever really wanted to do. I guess in a broader sense, I’ve achieved that goal. Look around you!
At the end of the day, what message do have for America?
You can’t take any of this personal freedom for granted. When they started burning books in Europe, they didn’t start with the so-called classics. They started with the so-called garbage. Eventually they got to Mozart and Shakespeare.
How can we prevent such a tragedy?
The best way to prevent that scenario is to vote. People don’t think their vote counts, but it does. And you’re giving up right there if you fall for that nonsense. Vote, damn it, vote—and never get disillusioned or take your precious freedom for granted!