Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Back Issues: Milos Forman’s Favorite Publisher Does His Thing
many of his predecessors and contemporaries, Larry Flynt is still making money
from naughty pictures. His were always the naughtiest, as prosecutors sometimes
noticed. Michael Lee Nirenberg, the son of longtime Hustler art director William Nirenberg, tells his publishing success
story in Back Issues: the Hustler
Magazine Story (trailer
is now available on VOD.
to Miloš Forman, we already know the general trajectory of Flynt’s story. He
started with a club that produced a tacky newsletter that eventually evolved
into the granddaddy of tacky magazines. He showed more than his competitors and
was prosecuted as a result. However, he won his cases on First Amendment
we might well be sympathetic to Flynt’s 1st Amendment arguments and completely
believe his readers have a right to buy his magazines. However, neither Forman
nor Nirenberg ever make a persuasive case Flynt’s victories prevented the storm-troopers
from shuttering any other sort of press that was not in the dirty picture
business. It is therefore difficult to enthusiastically celebrate him as a free press champion
or fret that we were spared a tumble down the slippery slope.
the other hand, both Nirenbergs will convince viewers Flynt is quite a challenging
boss to work for. While the senior Nirenberg has undeniably found memories of
the overall zaniness, some incidents clearly still rankle him. Evidently, working
at a permissive, zeitgeisty magazine is still work. In fact, the elder
Nirenberg seems to be one of the few who could actually get things done.
junior Nirenberg’s interviews with his father are pleasantly chatty and
occasionally revealing. Perhaps even more candid are the sit-downs with Flynt’s
brother Jimmy. In contrast, the notorious Flynt always seems to be consciously playing
a scripted part. There are also plenty of reminiscences with the talent that
appeared within his pages, whose names would surely mean nothing to any of us,
There is maybe a thimble full of revisionism in Back Issues and a whole lot of gawking.
Ironically though, Nirenberg is reluctant to show many of the images that
caused such consternation, which is an indirect commentary in itself. Breezily
distracting, but mostly rather shallow, Back
Issues is best left to those who are fascinated by Flynt’s world. It is now
available on VOD from Filmbuff.
Labels: Documentary, Naughty films