Hustler is a monthly pornographic magazine aimed at men and published in the United States. It was first published in 1974 by Larry Flynt. It was a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter which was cheap advertising for his strip club businesses at the time. The magazine grew from a shaky start to a peak circulation of around 3 million (current circulation is below 500,000). The magazine was one of the first major men's magazines in the United States to break the taboo that existed in the early seventies by showing much more explicit views of the female genitalia than other popular magazines of the time such as the relatively modest Playboy.
Today, Hustler is still considered more explicit (and more self-consciously lowbrow) than such well known competitors as Playboy and Penthouse. It frequently depicts hardcore themes, such as the use of sex toys, penetration and group sex.
Larry Flynt's Hustler empire also owns the Hustler casino in Gardena, California, as well as a chain of Hustler stores that sells adult-oriented videos, clothing, magazines and sex toys. The chain's flagship store is on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.
Of particular infamy are Hustler's cartoons, which have often featured blatantly violent and misogynistic themes. Gang rape, botched abortions, incest, pedophilia and racism have all been featured at one time or another as recurring motifs in the cartoons. One long-running cartoon, "Chester the Molester", presented the ongoing misadventures of a pedophile in his attempts to coerce young children into sexual activity with him. While such material has earned Hustler much criticism from feminists and other critics, Flynt and his supporters defend the cartoons as bawdy social satire. Similar defenses have been advanced on Hustler's behalf by more scholarly writers, most notably Laura Kipnis in her essay (Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust, published in 1993.
Another feature of Hustler is a column called "Asshole of the Month." In every monthly issue of the magazine, some public figure is selected for severe criticism as that month's asshole. An illustration showing a photograph of the criticized person's head emerging from the anus of a cartoon donkey is shown alongside the article.
In the 1970s, Hustler ran a comic strip feature entitled "Honey Hooker". In each installment, Honey would have graphic sexual encounters with any male (or female) she ran across. She might be in American colonial times one month or in a Super-Bowl locker room the next. This feature was designed to compete against Playboy's Little Annie Fanny and Penthouse's Wicked Wanda. In keeping with Hustler's focus on the seamier and less romantic aspects of sexuality, Honey Hooker, unlike Fanny and Wanda, was explicitly portrayed as being a prostitute.
Hustler has long had a left-wing editorial policy on economics, foreign policy, and social issues. This distinguishes it somewhat from other pornographic magazines, which generally embrace progressive ideas about free speech and morality issues, but remain conservative, libertarian, or neutral on other matters such as the economy. Flynt and Hustler are also noted for having a more populist and working-class outlook than the more upscale-oriented Playboy and Penthouse. Throughout the 1980s, Flynt used his magazine as a podium with which to launch vitriolic, obscenity-laden attacks on the Reagan Administration and the Religious Right, and even published a short-lived political magazine called Rebel. During the controversy surrounding Bill Clinton's impeachment, Flynt publicly announced his sympathy for Clinton, and offered cash rewards to anyone with information regarding sexual impropriety on the part of the president's critics. In 2003, Flynt ran unsuccessfully for the office of Governor of California during that state's 2003 recall election.
Every month Hustler is mailed, uninvited and for free, to the office of each member of the United States Congress. This practice began at some point between 1974 and 1983, and it continues as of 2006. In an interview, Flynt explained, "I felt that they should be informed with what's going on in the rest of the world ... Some of them didn't appreciate it much. I haven't had any plans to quit."
In a 1983 parody of an advertisement for Campari, Hustler described the then-prominent fundamentalist Protestant minister Jerry Falwell having a drunken, incestuous encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell sued Flynt, alleging libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The case was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in Flynt's favor. The decision strengthened free speech rights in relation to parodies of public figures. See Hustler Magazine v. Falwell
Hustler is officially published by LFP, Inc, which is presumably controlled by Flynt. The abbreviation "L.F.P." originally stood for "Larry Flynt Publications."
A Canadian version of Hustler is published by a Quebec-based firm. This magazine is not owned by Larry Flynt, but is licensed to publish material from the American version. In general, Canadian Hustler imitates the appearance and tone of its American counterpart, with Canadian content added. In 1999, the magazine created a minor controversy in Canada by inviting readers to submit sexually explicit stories about Sheila Copps, a left-leaning member of the Liberal cabinet.
LFP, Inc. publishes several other magazines that use the Hustler brand:
- Hustler's Taboo, which specializes in fetishistic material, such as the depiction of bondage and urolagnia.
- Barely Legal, a primarily softcore magazine focusing on models between 18 and 23
- Asian Fever, focusing on Asian models
- "Hustler XX", a more generic hardcore offering
The LFP Internet Group, LLC, operates Hustler.com and a number of related sites, where it sells pictures and videos with content similar to that in its magazines.
- Hustler Official website
- Hustler's Barely Legal
- Dazed & Confused Interview w/ long-time Hustler editor