Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Adventures of Larry Flynt

Hot Poker Through the Midsection

Larry Flynt
Larry Flynt

On the morning of Monday, March 6, 1978, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt arrived with his lawyers at the courthouse in Lawrenceville, Georgia, to face obscenity charges. It wasn't his first run-in with the law regarding the illegal distribution of pornography, so he knew the drill. He also felt that Jesus was on his side because in the last year he had become an evangelical Christian under the ministry of Ruth Carter Stapleton, the sister of Jimmy Carter, who was then President of the United States. Flynt and Stapleton had become close friends that year.

When court proceedings recessed for lunch, Flynt and his attorneys, Gene Reeves and Paul Cambria, walked to a nearby restaurant, the V&J Cafeteria, where Flynt ordered two glasses of grapefruit juice. His friend, comedian and political activist Dick Gregory, had recently encouraged him to become a vegetarian and had helped him lose 25 pounds, and Flynt was fasting to maintain his good health.

After lunch the three men strolled back to the courthouse. As they turned onto the sidewalk that led to the courthouse, a gunshot suddenly rang out. Flynt turned toward Reeves just as a bullet pierced the attorney's arm. Reeves collapsed, and a second shot was fired. Flynt felt as if a "hot poker" had seared through his midsection. He says in his autobiography, An Unseemly Man, when he looked down, he saw his intestines hanging out. A .44 Magnum bullet had entered at an "odd angle" and in his words, "nearly ripped the front of my stomach off."

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