The legendary HUSTLER publisher’s famous campaign for the highest office in the land gets a fresh look in a new documentary.
Larry Flynt’s political affiliation varied on occasion. The legendary HUSTLER publisher was, at different times, a Democrat, a civil libertarian and, during his is-this-really-happening 1984 run for the highest office in the land, he threw his hat into the ring as a Republican. (“I am running as a Republican rather than a Democrat because I am wealthy, white, pornographic and, like the nuclear-mad cowboy Ronnie Reagan, I have been shot for what I believe in,” Flynt explained in a statement published in HUSTLER.) This was but one of many eyebrow-raising aspects of the HUSTLER founder’s bid for the White House—announcing his candidacy in Columbus, Ohio, in 1983, Flynt proceeded to mount a Presidential campaign that was anything but forgettable.
Now, assembled from never-before-seen footage along with interviews with those who knew and worked for Flynt, director Nadia Szold’s documentary Larry Flynt for President is making its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 12. (The documentary was initially due to premiere last year, but those plans were put on hold due to COVID.)
It should be noted that Nadia was not, initially, a Larry Flynt scholar. “I never thought twice about Larry Flynt before I stumbled across a cache of video tapes that had been sitting in a storage facility in the San Fernando Valley for 33 years,” she recalls. “In these 20 boxes of tapes there was the untold story of a presidential campaign so strange, no high school teacher would ever touch it in an American History class. And yet, there was something there I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Something so nakedly American it was almost blasphemous. So I had to dig deeper.”
The next step on the road to making the film was meeting the proposed subject. “[Flynt] shrugged it off as the buried past, but gave me full access to his own archives,” Nadia explains. It was while she dug through Flynt’s material that another strange development in Presidential campaign history emerged. “I was deep in Flynt’s archives up high in the HUSTLER tower,” Nadia recalls, “when Donald Trump announced his campaign for Presidency. It was the summer of 2015, and the country was on the brink of its next chapter.”