Feathered Bastard

Charles Keating Was "the Scum of the Earth," Says Porn Titan Larry Flynt

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And the reason why [Keating] was showing it to them was, he wanted the community to be aware of the kind of garbage that was out there. So he put them through a full-length (chuckles) screening of Deep Throat and would say things like, "Look at that. See what they're doing? This is what's happening to our culture."

I honestly cannot say what his motivation was. But I do know he was a paradoxical creature in a sense, because when he was stealing all that money from one of his savings and loans, he was flying abroad and giving large sums of cash to Mother Teresa. I don't know if he believed in Mother Teresa's work, or maybe he thought she could help buy him a seat at the pearly gates, I have no idea.

This attorney in Nevada told me that [Keating] took a copy of Hustler up and put it in this elderly woman's face. He opens up the pages and says, "Look at that. Look what they publish."

He said he actually thought Keating was doing this because he got off on shocking people with what was in the magazine or what might be in the movie. Really a strange guy.

Did you ever meet Keating face to face?

Yeah, I met him a couple of times. I never had any conversations with him.

So unlike the Reverend Jerry Falwell, whom you reconciled with, you never came to terms with Keating.

At least Falwell conceded we were both in the same business. You know, making money. (Chuckles.)

You've outlived a lot of your enemies, haven't you?

The judge in the [Cincinnati obscenity] case, [William] Morrissey, he's passed on. The prosecutor is retired. Keating's dead. Falwell's dead. Yeah.

Is there any satisfaction in that?

Well, like I said when I started the interview, I don't say things bad about people who've moved on. But I had such contempt for Keating. I don't think the guy had a soul.

I was reading that he had quite the porn collection. All in the name of opposing it.

Probably the only people who have a larger porn collection than Keating is the Vatican. (Chuckles.)

It seems like you always find in people who are really moral arbiters, in a sense, that they want to be able to tell you what you can and can't do or where you can and can't do it....I think Keating was very much of a moralist.

But at the same time, I always had trouble reconciling that with the fact that he stole all that money from Lincoln Savings and Loan. And those were basically old people's savings in that bank. So he was having me prosecuted for a crime, at the same time that many people were considering it a crime that he was committing at Lincoln Savings and Loan, a greater crime than what he was having me persecuted for.

In the book Trust Me: Charles Keating and the Missing Billions, authors Michael Binstein and Charles Bowden mention a rumor that Keating may have had something to do with the assassination attempt on your life by Joseph Paul Franklin.

I have heard that. But there were several wealthy, right-wing people that financed Joseph Paul Franklin and his activities. I don't know if they were ever able to connect it to Keating or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons