A gloriously well-informed look at the rise (and continual success, in a fashion) of the American 'top-shelf' magazine, Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story is naturally not one for prudes, but is a fascinating and eye-opening insight into a business often dismissed as just seedy and immoral.
Director Michael Lee Nirenberg, whose father Bill was the art and creative director for the magazine, has managed to interview dozens of people involved in the production of the magazine as well as his father; models, photographers, editors and of course original publisher Larry Flynt. Spawned from what was essentially a small newsletter advertising Flynt's strip bars it was expanded as the antithesis to the 'lifestyle' style and airbrushed, glossy spreads of Playboy and Penthouse, Hustler took the rawness of Al Goldstein's newspaper format Screw, but in colour. Goldstein himself is interviewed, clearly very ill (he would later die on December 19th, 2013) and unrecognisable from the famous boisterous cigar-smoking image we are used to, and it's quite sad to see but at least he still possessed his famous sass.
Joseph Franklin, the man who famously shot and paralysed Flynt, is also interviewed in prison. Blaming an inter-racial photo-spread for his motivation for the attempted murder, he certainly seems unhinged. Chillingly, he says, "Flynt is the only person to be shot by a .44 Magnum and live". Close-up photos of his wounds are graphic and disturbing, but show the reality of the incident. It wasn't the Flynt shooting which he was convicted of, as Franklin was sentenced as a serial killer in 1980 for at least seven murders. He was executed by lethal injection on November 17th, 2013.
Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine- Official Trailer November 2013 from Michael Lee Nirenberg on Vimeo.
9 out of 10