Lisa vs. Larry Flynt

NT: Antiques?
LJ: The thing is, he's still like a hillbilly, but he has money, so he buys these hideous antiques. These gaudy gilded chairs and things, and he puts them in the office. He has four floors in the building that he bought in Beverly Hills, and the top floor is where he has a living area. He gutted the whole place and redid it so it looks like a museum.

But the two floors that I was on, the editorial floors, he ran out of money, so he didn't totally redo the floors, but he still put the furniture in. He had blue/gray carpeting and off-white walls--just the most generic office, picture that--but there would be these chairs that look out of the Age of Innocence, and these oil paintings in the big gilded frames and these naked-lady statues everywhere.

In the lobby directory of the building he bought--named the Flynt Building--the listings are all him: Flynt Publications, Flynt Distribution, Flynt Aviation--in other words, his plane--and two or three other Flynt things. It was so ludicrous. It was just so he could have his name there five or six times. And on his flagpole, he has the American flag, and the California flag, and the Flynt flag, which is purple with "LFP" in gold letters.

NT: No Flynt crest?
LJ: I guess his crest would be the vagina medallion he wears around his neck.

NT: What was the office reaction as the film began to take shape?
LJ: Well, Larry's been obsessed with this movie ever since it was in the beginning stages because the one thing he doesn't have is respect. He has a business and a plane and a building and a mansion, but he thinks he doesn't have respect from the American people, and he thinks he's going to get this from the movie.

By the time I got a script, half the people in the building had read it, and within a short time everyone in the building had read it. Somehow Larry found out that scripts were circulating, and he sent this rabid memo around saying how dare we read it, it was none of our business, and if he found out for sure anyone who had read it, they would be fired on the spot.

NT: Was the script good?
LJ: I don't know that anybody really liked the script. It may have changed since the draft we saw, but I thought it was kind of choppy. It seemed like a series of blackout sketches from Love, American Style.

NT: When you were promoted, you began writing "Hot Letters." Was it a difficult transition?

LJ: Well, I didn't know if I should take it, because I hadn't written for so long, and especially, how was I going to write porn? But the thing was, after copy editing it for six months, it's like learning a whole different language. So it was kind of good discipline, as far as writing, to write these letters, because it was so narrow.

NT: What did your editor think?
LJ: At first he said they weren't raunchy enough. I actually wrote an entire letter and had only one sex thing in it, and that was masturbation. As time went by, it never got easier, but it got smoother.

By my second pair of letters, my editor loved them. It's real easy to get the knack of how to do it. I can't explain it, but you just get kind of immersed in the subject matter. You're surrounded by sex and bare breasts and things all day long.

But I don't actually think any of my Hot Letters were sexy. I think they were more weird, and I'd try to be funny. I think the readers probably didn't like them very much. I mean, there was a lot of graphic sex. The third letter I wrote, my editor really liked; I remember the title, "Brown Eye Girl." I did it in a girl's voice, and that was really fun to write, and anal sex is so funny anyway, and I just tried to make it as gross as I could. But I don't think it was something that a guy could whack off to, and that's the idea. I don't think I ever wrote one that was whack-off material.

NT: Did you get any reader response?
LJ: The only letter I ever saw was, well, one day I was really fed up, and I named the couple Darren and Samantha Stevens [the fictitious couple from TV's Bewitched]. So this guy wrote in saying, "If the letters aren't going to be real, at least pick real names." It was kind of funny, because he understood the fact that the letters were all fake, but he wanted to be able to suspend his disbelief more easily.

NT: Was your Hot Letters predecessor a man?
LJ: Yes, but he was gay. After that he wrote girl copy, and it's supposed to be in the girl's voice. Then that got turned over to me, too.

NT: Did you make any real effort to invent a voice that would correspond to the look of the model? [A sample of girl copy, from the December '94 Hustler featuring model "Sheena" posing on a remote beach: "Places this primitive aren't for everyone," declares the headstrong nature lover, sliding giving flesh against the rocky terrain. "Here, the only electricity available comes from hand-to-skin friction!"]

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