Adventures in Smut

No, I’m not talking about my novel, although the case could be made.

Driving home from the courthouse yesterday evening, I stopped by WalMart to pick up a prescription. Wally World is the dominant tenant of the strip center on that side of the road, but it isn’t the only one. The center is identified by what is called a “ladder sign”, with the chief tenant’s sign at the top and lesser tenants’ signs in columns beneath.

As I glanced at the sign, I noticed one of the tenants was one not usually found near the Beast of Bentonville. The tenant sign sported the name FLYNT in huge letters, and Sexy Gifts along a margin. A graphic of a shield emblazoned with a large letter F was the sign’s other decoration. I quickly realized that the uncomfortable dance between the country’s most infamous porn peddler and my conservative old stomping grounds was continuing.

Like Charles Manson (born in Cincinnati, but grew up around Ashland, KY), Larry Flynt is one of those folks Kentucky doesn’t really like to claim. Larry and his younger brother Jimmy were born in Magoffin County, about 25 miles from Mrs. M’s hometown. I’m not going to rehearse Larry’s history of legal troubles with the Cincinnati authorities — there are movies about that, anyway. Suffice it to say that when I worked at my magazine in downtown Cincinnati, I would occasionally see Larry (who owned a Hustler store a few blocks away) being wheeled down the sidewalks by his bodyguard, and yes, the wheelchair really is gold-plated. And of course, it’s impossible for me to think of Flynt without remembering Harlan Ellison’s quote, “If Larry Flynt came to my house, I’d cauterize the doorknobs.”

In any case, Larry’s brother Jimmy runs the store, with the family name emblazoned like a vulgarian’s seal of approval — a Donald Trump of sleaze (I suppose Mr. Trump himself may be the Donald Trump of sleaze, but my point stands.). I have to admit I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of the store with WalMart, and wonder how much crossover business each gets from the other — but not for too long, because it makes my imagination hurt. A friend of mine informs me that recently the two stores had sidewalk sales on the same day. The mind reels. And it’s not that I’m necessarily prudish: Remember that I used to date someone whose employer was the victim of nipple clamp theft.

Many years ago, an associate of mine who was a meter reader invited me to join him on his rounds — because I write, and therefore collect odd experiences, I agreed. One of the places we visited was a porn shop — not part of the Flynt empire, an independent — and I can tell you that porn shop basements warrant one visit at most. I think I’ll give FLYNT’s Sexy Gifts one visit less than that.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Broken Glass Waltzes, Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Adventures in Smut

  1. jerome says:

    I always like listening to what you have to say, but I hear a sort of what-price-progress argument being made. Well,” Remember a time when women weren’t allowed to vote and certain people weren’t allowed on golf courses? Pepperidge Farm remembers.” Thanks Futurama. You get where i’m going/

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