Unlisted Pornographer

Chatterbox had one hell of a time getting a phone number yesterday for Hustler magazine. He was calling, of course, to find out more about the circumstances surrounding House speaker Bob Livingston’s surprise confession that he’d committed adultery (followed today by Livingston’s even more surprising decision to quit Congress). Having driven many times past the big black building in Beverly Hills that bears Larry Flynt’s name, Chatterbox felt sure a telephone number would be readily available by calling information. It wasn’t. Then Chatterbox tried Hustler’s website. No phone number there, either. Finally, Chatterbox got someone to go out and buy a copy of the magazine itself. It had no phone number for the editorial offices, but it did have a number for an advertising office. Chatterbox called that number and was referred to another number. Then Chatterbox called the second number and was referred to a third number. The third number got Chatterbox to the Flynt offices on Wilshire Boulevard.

Initially, Chatterbox was too absorbed in the reportorial task at hand to consider the rank hypocrisy of a self-styled populist and First Amendment hero keeping his office number unlisted. Chatterbox has never before heard of any magazine having an unlisted phone number. (Perhaps Flynt has a more profound understanding than Chatterbox of the sort of people who read his publication.) In any case, now that Hustler, in addition to being the crudest magazine in America, is now a maker and breaker of national political leaders–indeed, is something very close to a public utility–the public is going to need its phone number.

Here it is: 213-651-5400. Tell ‘em Chatterbox sent ya.

–Timothy Noah