WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - HUSTLER founder Larry Flynt discussed the state of the adult industry, the new Obama administration, and his porn bailout publicity stunt Tuesday afternoon at the 2009 XBiz Conference.
Flynt was interviewed by Tom Hymes, then took questions from the audience. Much of the hour-long seminar focused on the new Obama administration.
"He knew how to get elected; I don't think he knows how to govern," Flynt said of President Obama. "And that's the problem."
Flynt praised Obama as smart, quick and slick, but said he remains skeptical regarding the public's lofty expectations of the new president. He criticized Republicans for refusing to cooperate with Obama.
"Some [Republican politicians] need to be put to sleep," Flynt remarked. "They spent eight years screwing the country up, so why should they give in at all?"
He also took aim at the Democratic leadership in Congress.
"Obama should see they get of there. They've been there too long," Flynt said. "I think he's the best hope we've got. We need to support him and keep our fingers crossed. People are really hurting in this country today. They want jobs - that's what it's all about."
Flynt voiced his opposition to bailouts for banking and the auto industry and questioned a stimulus package, though he admitted it could lessen the nation's economic decline, perhaps making recovery a bit faster and less painful.
"There's a real solution - it's called bankruptcy," he said, repeating a line he used on stage at the 2009 AVN Awards.
Government bailout funds should go to banks that make average people loans, not to Wall Street firms, Flynt said. When the subject of his recent lobbying for a $5 billion "porn bailout" with 'Girls Gone Wild' founder Joe Francis came up, he was typically wry.
"I would've liked to have one, but I'm not delusional enough to think we'll have one," Flynt said. "I was so upset, I wanted to make them look stupid."
On the subject of the adult industry, Flynt pointed out the problem of massive growth with not enough business to sustain all the players.
"It's three times the size it was 20 years ago," he said. "Some people in the business aren't going to be here a year from now."
Again reiterating his 2009 AVN Awards speech, Flynt suggested that quality would win out.
"Porn doesn't change. What the industry has to do is dig in itself," he said. "The days of a handheld camera and a couple of models are gone and won't be back."
Free content, including the proliferation of tube sites was also a topic.
"There's so much free stuff," Flynt said. "It's costing the industry more than anything else."
However, Flynt dismissed piracy as a severe problem, saying it's a part of any business.
Flynt doesn't believe the majority of the porn industry should be overly concerned about Department of Justice investigators, so long as adult businesses are run in a legitimate fashion.
Several times, the HUSTLER chief expressed distaste for "extreme" content (this from the man who brought the world Chester the Molester). Bestiality, necrophilia, kiddie porn, human trafficking: these are the areas that the new administration will target, he said.
"If you just show plain ol' vanilla sex, a jury won't convict you for that," he said. "They've probably watched it themselves or known neighbors who do. It's when you get into the fringe areas."
However, he stressed that all adult content is protected by the First Amendment. He also expressed concern over the current state of the Supreme Court and the future of free speech challenges.
Flynt took shots at easy targets such as Republican "leader" Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. When asked about his involvement in politics or a specific candidate, he said, "There's absolutely no upside for any politician to be associated with me."
The man who began as a magazine publisher questioned the future of that business, citing problems faced by major newspapers such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
"Most people get their information from TV and the Internet," he said. "They don't get it from a newspaper."
When asked what he would be doing if he started his career today, it was a chance for Flynt to show he can still work a room.
"I'd probably been a gynecologist or an evangelist," he said.