A favorite Paul Krassner story.
Around 1972 when Krassner was living in Sausilito he got a surprise visit from John & Yoko. This was during Lennon’s “radical chic” period after all when he was hanging out with pals of Krassner’s like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. So they’re hanging out at Krassner’s house — John and Yoko and Krassner — smoking joints and having a groovy time. When Krassner suddenly realized the reason for the visit. Krassner was working on a book about Charles Manson at the time, and regularly visited Manson in prison. So John asked Krassner for a favor. He sort of whispered to Krassner:
“Next time you see Manson tell him Paul wrote Helter Skelter not me.”
To which Yoko added with alarm:
“BUT DON’T TELL HIM WE TOLD YOU TO TELL HIM!!”
Well Larry Flyntt had become a born-again Christian during that period. And he wanted to change HUSTLER from being this sleazy vulgar porn magazine to a magazine that was up-lifting and was no longer sexist or treated women as sex objects. So Flyntt hired Krassner in the hopes that he could add some class to his magazine (ha ha). Turn HUSTLER from “pornography” into “erotica.”
Krassner, who was game for just about anything — and could always use a decent-paying job — agreed to take over as managing editor of HUSTLER.
I think Krassner lasted less than a year on the job. Flyntt had this idea that if they published photos of married couples having sex — instead of photos of hookers spreading their twats — this would be more aligned with his new and more moral Born Again Christian values (did I mention Larry Flyntt was a nut?).
And then Flyntt ended up getting shot and paralyzed by this white supremicist nut who was pissed that Flyntt had run a pictorial of interracial sex (black guy – white chick). So now Krassner is in the middle of this whole weird scene as he’s trying to run this magazine.
Meanwhile sales are dropping fast. The softcore “erotica” that Krassner is publishing flies in the face of the hardcore smut that the HUSTLER readers crave. So Althea Flyntt — Larry’s girlfriend who later ODed and was portrayed by Courtney Love in a movie version of Larry Flyntt’s life — fired Krassner.
Krassner just smiled and shrugged. And then moved on to the next — and even weirder — phase of his life.
One of Krassner’s first LSD trips was in the mid-60s at Timothy Leary’s Millbrook estate. And his guide for the trip was the acid expert Ram Dass (then Richard Alpert) to help mentor the acid novice Krassner through his trip.
Ram Dass was also going to be performing later in the evening in one of Leary’s off-Broadway theatrical productions — “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” or something like that. And Ram Dass was quite nervous about the show, because he had never performed on stage before in a theatrical show. Krassner on the other hand was a show business expert, having been performing on stage since he was 7. So he spent a lot of the trip giving Ram Dass show biz advice to help reassure his nerves.
But Krassner said it was a weird role reversal. Instead of spending the acid trip as the novice being mentored by the expert. He spent the trip as the expert mentoring the novice. Ha ha.
RIP Paul Krassner