During his career as a televangelist and conservative activist, Jerry Falwell made no shortage of laughable assertions. Such as when he accused Tinky Winky — aka the purple character from children’s television series Teletubbies — of “modeling the gay lifestyle.” Or when he asserted that feminists, homosexuals and the ACLU, among others, were partially responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
As good as Falwell was at dishing out the moralistic gut-busters, though, he wasn’t so great at taking a joke.
Case in point: The legendary HUSTLER parody ad featuring Falwell that sparked a years-long court battle and, eventually, a landmark United States Supreme Court ruling on the protections that the First Amendment affords America’s citizens.
The parody, printed in the November ’83 issue of HUSTLER, played off of an ad campaign for the Italian liqueur Campari featuring contrived interviews with celebrities discussing their “first time” — a double entendre that, despite its sexual connotations, ultimately referred to the first time they drank Campari.
While the HUSTLER spoof, which bore the disclaimer “Ad Parody — Not to Be Taken Seriously” at the bottom, was a takeoff on the Campari campaign, the real butt of the joke was Falwell, as the mock interview depicted him recalling an incestuous encounter with his mother in an outhouse.