RIP Larry Flynt: Our Favorite ‘Hustler’ Covers to Celebrate His Influence on Our Extreme Love of Porn

A legend has left us. Hustler founder Larry Flynt died of heart failure on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

The hard-corn porn provocateur and free speech advocate introduced slews of impressionable young men to the female form well before they knew what to do with it.

Flynt was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. He dropped out of high school, became a strip club owner, and started Hustler as a newsletter to promote his clubs.

“Pornography is really the purest form of art,” Flynt told WHYY’s Fresh Air in 1996. “I felt guys wanted to see … more a girl next door, whether she might have small breasts, medium or large. Or be a brunette or a blonde.”

The magazine, which peaked in the late 1970s and boasted more than 2 million subscribers, was also known for its “tasteless and lowbrow” humor (his words, not ours) as well as satire, which included showcasing women as literal pieces of meat.

Flynt’s affinity for controversy meant he was constantly embattled in court. He spent over $50 million fighting libel and obscenity charges over the course of his lifetime. One of his legal cases went all the way to the Supreme Court and was dramatized in the 1996 movie The People vs. Larry Flynt starring Woody Harrelson.

His personal life was no less dramatic. He became an evangelical Christian in 1977, but returned to atheism after a white supremacist shot and paralyzed him a year later. He transported himself in a gold-plated wheelchair and became addicted to painkillers. He ran for president in 1984. He bought up sex stores and casinos. He married five times and fathered five daughters and one son. He was loved and hated in equal measure.

In honor of a colorful man and an even more colorful magazine, we’ve rounded up 20 of our favorite Hustler covers. Thanks to you, Larry, we developed an appreciation for porn, and you kept us entertained even (especially) when our sex lives were a wasteland. We don’t know what the afterlife involves, but we’d bet anything that Larry Flynt is there, surrounded by sexy women.

Cover Photo: Sebastien DUFOUR / Contributor (Getty Images)

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