Fayner Posts: This is Allan MacDonell, my former boss at Hustler. I got a lot from him and for that reason I’m giving back. This is an excerpt from his book Prisoner of X about his adventures at Hustler up until he was fired. Me reprinting this chapter in no way means I feel the same way about Larry Flynt and the whole Hustler world as Allan does. Free speech is our last freedom and I support it until I die. I suggest you go out and buy it today, and to show how fair we are may we also suggest buying Larry’s many books too.
IT TAKES A special person to work at Hustler magazine for 20 years
and not crack up. From the dawn of the Reagan Administration well
into Bush II, I was bombarded daily by sharply focused images of
naked women and bare-assed men locked in the most primal and
private activity human beings engage in other than defecation, and
I’d been shown that too. I viewed these images, literally 1,000 every
day, through powerful magnifying lenses ground in Germany. I
evaluated each photograph for its prurient appeal, and selected the
most effective among them to be presented to a drooling audience,
a large portion of which would have paid a month of their salaries
to spend a week on my job.
As a writer, I cranked out service pieces on how to dump a
girlfriend before she dumps you, on romancing welfare mothers,
on capturing for a moment the erotic affections of rich women,
crazy women, gorgeous women, angry women, new age women,
promiscuous women, aging women, and women with severe eating
disorders. I clarified at least one mystery of the universe in a feature
titled “Creeps: Why Women Love Us.”
I’d been airlifted to a remote Nevada highway and embedded at
a house of prostitution there. I’d infiltrated a convention of soldierof-
fortune mercenaries, and penetrated San Quentin Prison’s death
row to interview a man convicted of murdering two consecutive
wives. I’d tagged along to the south of France with a planeload of
porn starlets who plied their trade to private fans at up to $5,000
per scene. I’d spent three hours in a cell with a tape recorder and
one of California’s most notorious serial killers. I’d hopped a redeye
to Atlanta, Georgia, where I delivered a staggering cashier’s check
to the second ex-wife of family-values congressman Bob Barr.
I entered the strange and titillating environment of Larry Flynt
Publications as a married 27-year-old clinging to the shreds of a
Roman Catholic education. Tentative at first, jumpy around all the
sexual triggers, I quickly adopted a jaded sensualism which was put
to the test once my wife had split. Acclimating well, I assumed a
supervisory position within the hotbed of anarchy and depravity at
LFP. I hired and indoctrinated others to the Hustler way. I directed
talented underlings in the creation of aberrant literature and curiously
lewd photographic scenarios. I trained attractive young
women to compose debauched sexual memoirs, and then I made
suggestions for improving their grammar. Hustler was not the vilest
magazine on the market, but we tried.
Private sex videos never intended for public consumption
crossed my desk, souvenirs that purported to show Ted Turner in a
manic kinky mood with Jane Fonda, young Pam Anderson satisfying
the singer from Poison, Chuck Berry despoiling a string of
anonymous partners, some of whom treated Chuck (if indeed that
was Chuck) to a bite of poo, Anna Nicole Smith playing the nude,
inebriated seductress in a hotel bathtub, Mick Jagger captured by
a crafty, spread-eagle stripper barely one-third his age, and Courtney
Love cavorting with Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots. I
came away with the opinion that all of these tapes were probably
authentic, but I had learned to mistrust reality at large.
In 1998, I was plunged into the chamber pot of national politics.
Suddenly, at the height of the frenzy surrounding the impeachment
of President Bill Clinton, my actions were creating headlines in the
Washington Post and being cited in New York Times and Wall Street
Journal Op-Ed columns. There I was on prime-time TV, arguing
public morality with big-haired news-channel blowhards. Functioning
as equal parts reporter and vandal, I hounded down adulterous
Congressional hypocrites wherever Larry Flynt’s lure of a milliondollar
reward could flush them out. Before the smoke and mirrors
had cleared, the Speaker-elect had resigned from the United States
House of Representatives in the face of my insinuation that Hustler
had uncovered proof of his extramarital follies.
After having saved Bill Clinton’s pasty ass, if not his legacy, I
continued to guide staffs of writers and artists in producing the sarcasm,
muckraking, celebrity bashing and go-for-the-throat
eroticism of America’s most iconoclastic stroke book, as well as
being overlord on a half-dozen ancillary publications—Taboo, Barely
Legal, Chic, Asian Fever, Busty Beauties, Honey Buns. At 46, a
seasoned veteran of hardcore anti-journalism, I reigned over a fiefdom
of quick-witted geeks with graduate degrees and no concept of
a career path. Then I made one crucial blunder in my relationship
with Larry Flynt, a faux pas so colossal that I must have committed
it deliberately. Soon after, I was fired.
From my first day as an axed employee, casual acquaintances,
relatives and former co-workers told me I should write the book on
Hustler. To everyone who didn’t have to write it, the book was a nobrainer,
but I had to wonder: What is the specific idea? Do I intend
to produce an exposé of Larry Flynt? How do you pitch a tell-all of
a man who is on record as having had sex with a chicken?
Oprah tosses up her hands: “The man admits to raping a fowl.
Are you telling me there is more?”
In fact, there is plenty more, but this book racket is turning out
to be more work than I am accustomed to. Trying to make things
easy on myself, I reached out to several former Hustler co-workers.
Many of these are decent, conflicted men and women. A few are
porno scumbags. I asked everybody the same questions: What had
working in the peculiar biosphere of LFP been like for you? What
memories typified or evoked the experience?
Most everyone agreed that their Hustler tenure had been weird
and less than entirely pleasant. All the former employees I contacted
shared one common thing that separated them from me: they’d come
to Larry Flynt Publications, and then they continued on their way,
having outgrown the Hustler environment. Maybe it wasn’t a question
of growth for all of them. Perhaps a few had simply burnt out on the
beaver shots, the institutionalized paranoia and the unrelenting satire.
The point is, these burnouts had moved on. My growth, if that’s what I
chose to call it, had all been confined within the structure of LFP.
I’d come in as an assistant nobody and risen to the top, like
scum on a cup of hot chocolate. If this progression had occurred at
Condé Nast, I’d be pushing my publicist for a five-page profile in
Forbes. When we met during the filming of The People vs. Larry
Flynt, actor Woody Harrelson, who portrayed Larry in the movie,
said, “You’re the guy who’s got the best job in the world.” If so, why
did I start my car every morning, then sit behind the wheel for 10
minutes debating whether or not to open the garage door?
A tougher question might be: how did I thrive so long in a
bizarro world of bodyguards, cracker-rich hillbillies and high-gloss
cumshots? Now here is an interesting question of character: what
the fuck was wrong with me?
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