...Larry Flynt endeavored to set straight the record – which is, well, actually pretty gay, according to him – in his entertaining new book, "One
Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and
Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History." With the help
of coauthor David Eisenbach, a professor of American political history
at Columbia University, he argues that Benjamin Franklin's womanizing
ways helped win him favor with the French and gain the country's
military support during the Revolutionary War. He claims that James
Buchanan's intimate same-sex relationship with a slave owner might have
influenced his secessionist support on the brink of the Civil War.
These aren't just sex scandals; they're history-changing sex scandals.
As Publishers Weekly
puts it: "Those looking for salacious details will find them, but Flynt
and Eisenbach favor analysis over sensationalism, providing a new
perspective of the men and women who have shaped our nation." Flynt
also offers fascinating and well-sourced explorations of Thomas
Jefferson's relationship with a 14-year-old slave and Eleanor
Roosevelt's intense relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. Then
there are the more salacious tidbits, the merits of which are
questionable – like the allegation that Jackie O miscarried because of
a venereal disease given to her by JFK....
In his new role as pornographer-cum-historian, the free-speech
advocate's mission is the same as when he first entered the spotlight
back in the 1970s as the publisher of Hustler: to challenge the
puritanical and hypocritical elements of our culture. It's only natural
that he would set out to prove that our Founding Fathers were pervs.
This book either reveals how much our history books have lied to us, or
shows just what a successful huckster Flynt is. (It might prove both at
once, actually.) Salon recently spoke with him by phone about the
biggest presidential playboys, the sex scandals that shocked even him,
and the conservative senator he hopes to soon force out of the closet.
Why do the sex lives of presidents matter?
we're often preoccupied with it even in our present society. Over the
last 30 years there were a lot of corrupt politicians – usually
involving sexual scandals. I just thought it would be interesting to go
back and start with the Founding Fathers and see if still existed. I
was amazed it was so prevalent....