I-Team: Flynt loved Las Vegas, considered casino venture after Hustler club

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Could there be a more natural fit than Las Vegas and Larry Flynt, Both focused as they are on sex and gambling?

“I love Las Vegas,” he said in an an interview with investigative reporter George Knapp in 2010.

For Flint, sex is how he earned his estimated $400 million fortune. And gambling is what he likes to do with his dough

“I love to gamble. See, I don’t do much mountain climbing or water skiing or any of that stuff.” The joke is a sly reference to his physical state, paralyzed from the waist down after a sniper shot him outside a courthouse many years ago.

Flynt has been a Las Vegas regular since the ’70s. His games? Poker and blackjack.

But in September, 2010, he added another reason for coming to town. His Hustler Las Vegas Club, a $30 million testament to sex and decadence, might be the largest and most expensive gentlemen’s club in the world.

An erotic events center, he calls it, with room for 600 topless dancers. Attached to the club is a Hustler store — a supermarket of sorts for adult toys and Hustler merchandise.

“Very complimentary to Las Vegas and vice versa. I’ve been wanting to get open there for some time.”

Our interview with Flynt took place in his opulent office in Beverly Hills. It’s hard to miss the sleek black building sitting atop some of the most expensive real estate anywhere. Flynt owns the building. It’s the headquarters, not only for his flagship magazine, “Hustler,” but also for his 30 other businesses, including other publications, apparel, a California casino, and the most profitable venture of all, adult videos.

“I’m the largest single provider of adult content to satellite and cable TV in the world. We go in 60 different countries,” Flynt said. “And when you see that adult film on one of those back channels and you order it up, chances are it’s one of mine.”

The huge profits from porn have allowed Flynt to diversify. The Las Vegas Hustler Club is the 25th in his chain.

But what he really wants to build in Nevada is a casino, though Flynt says the timing isn’t right. “And I thought for now, the club will make the most sense. And maybe later, we could do something with a casino.”

Flynt believes he would have no problem getting licensed here. His only felony conviction was overturned.

Walter Cronkite reported the initial verdict when, “A Cincinnati jury has found Larry Flynt, publisher of the men’s magazine ‘Hustler’ guilty of pandering, obscenity and engaging in organized crime. He was sentenced to up to 25 years in jail and fined $11,000 … .”

It was the case that set him on the path to becoming the single greatest defender of the First Amendment, maybe in all of American history.

“I think you’ve got to stand in a courtroom and listen to a judge sentence you to 25 years in prison before you realize that freedom of expression is something that can no longer be taken for granted,” he said.

“I spent millions. Went to prison a number of times. I’ve been in and out of so many courtrooms.”

Ohio prosecutors called it organized crime because Flynt conspired with his staff to produce “Hustler,” which they considered obscene. Flynt fought back and won, pulling outrageous courtroom stunts along the way, many of which were immortalized in the movie, “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

Although it’s unlikely he is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they crafted the Bill of Rights, Flynt’s libel battle with Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell over a satirical cartoon led to the Supreme Court’s most important First Amendment ruling of the 20th century.

It solidified protections for all media.

“People must understand that what’s kept the First Amendment intact for over 200 years, is it’s always the fringe cases,” he said. “It’s always the Larry Flynts of the world that are fighting those battles. Because the fat cats don’t fight the battles.”

“You can no longer sue somebody because they hurt your feelings, or what have you … their dog’s feelings. You can’t sue them if the libel’s not there,” Flynt said. “The case that I won provides that protection.”

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