Maybe high-profile pornography publisher Larry Flynt has seen his flattering biopic too many times, and he's gotten a little carried away with this "free-speech defender" stuff. Or, maybe those blackjack binges in Las Vegas aren't giving him enough to do. Or perhaps, he really does believe in the First Amendment.

He's certainly putting his money where his lawyers' mouths are. Flynt (along with brother Jimmy) has picked another fight with the City of Cincinnati and its surrounding Hamilton County--the place where he was convicted in 1977 of obscenity charges for selling his Hustler magazine, only to be freed later on a groundbreaking appeal.

On Tuesday, Flynt got the court battle he admittedly was seeking when city and county officials indicted him on obscenity and zoning-violation charges. The counts stem from adult videos that were sold at a downtown Cincy porn store--an emporium Flynt claims he put there for the specific purpose of creating yet another constitutional standoff.

In addition, Flynt faces charges of peddling adult videos to a 14-year-old boy. (He claims that's a setup.)

Flynt held a press conference Tuesday in his obscenely posh Beverly Hills office to respond to his latest free-speech battle.

"So, Larry," a reporter asked, "what do you want to say to the people of Cincinnati?"

"We're ready to rumble," replied Flynt. "We've been waiting for this. We're much more prepared than last time. We've got three of the best First Amendment attorneys in the country working for us."

"Great, but haven't you proved your point? Aren't you worried about going to jail?"

"If I lose, I could go to jail for 24 years, and that's not something I'm looking forward to," Flynt said.

But, he added, he needs to make a stand. "We've had free speech for so long, it's lost its value," he said. "Freedom is not lost in one fell swoop--it's lost a book at a time...a magazine at a time."

And what about the Ohio prosecutors. Do they really want to be the bad guys in this morality (re)play? Maybe so.

"The material sold here is the most vile and degrading--particularly to women--that has ever been sold in Hamilton County," prosecutor Joseph Deters told the Cincinnati Post. "If this is not [obscene], virtually no material could be considered obscene."

So, there you have it. Flynt's due April 21 in Cincy for his arraignment--and maybe sometime before that in Burbank to shop a movie sequel treatment.

Digital images provided by Sony Electronic Photography
Photograph by Trixie Textor

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