November 2019

Featuring Lana Rhoades

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Truly Obscene

For 41 years HUSTLER has been a stalwart defender of free speech, unabashedly exposing not only the erotic beauty of the human body, but also the darker corners and discomfiting truths in our society. We have often been criticized, and prosecuted, for the uncompromising graphic displays in our pages. But sometimes it takes shock to peel back the layers of polite obfuscation and evasion around “sensitive” subjects.

In “HUSTLER’s Guide to VD” (December ’76 and October ’82), we detailed the ravages of untreated venereal diseases—not only in words, but with explicit photos that could leave no reader nonchalant about the risks of unprotected sex. In ’78 we surveyed the prevalence of torture around the world—in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and, sad to say, the United States. We have reported on teen pregnancy, suicide, AIDS and the hypocrisy of the U.S. war on some drugs but legal tolerance for one of the most insidious: tobacco.

HUSTLER has never shied from showing the gruesome results of often barbaric U.S. actions overseas—such as the January ’77 photo spread depicting the burned, decapitated, mutilated bodies of soldiers and civilians killed in Vietnam. While Larry Flynt was being indicted and harassed from Ohio to Georgia for the “obscenity” of depicting naked human bodies in the act of lovemaking, he pointedly asked, “Who has been indicted for the obscenity of the Vietnam War?” and defended the decision to “offend” the public with the naked truth about war: “I don’t know of any other way to illustrate the lopsided value system in America today. It seems to be a value system in which death, violence and war are awarded government sanction, while positive, life-oriented, human responses are officially censored.”

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