Larry Flynt has engineered one of the greatest public-image turnarounds of all time. How did a pornographer (he's the man behind Hustler magazine, people!) become one of the most effective defenders of the First Amendment? Who cares? With Flynt stumping for freedom of speech, America is a better place, as strange as that sounds. Flynt's legendary fight with the religious right served as the framework for Milos Forman's biopic, The People vs. Larry Flynt, which is almost entirely responsible for Flynt's current reputation as an advocate of civil rights. Even if you disagree with the movie's somewhat-sanitized depiction of Flynt, you can't dispute that he continues to rail against censorship, the religious right (still) and hypocrisy in the highest levels of government. He is, after all, the man who very publicly exposed congressmen who had engaged in adultery during the Clinton impeachment debacle. It's Flynt's sense of showmanship, and his honesty about who and what he is ("I'm a smut-peddler who cares," he notes with typical candor), that make him so compelling. He knows who he is, and he knows his rights -- and, more important, he fights for both.
Larry Flynt appears as the guest of the American Civil Liberties Union at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731) at 7 p.m. to sign copies of his new book, Sex, Lies and Politics: The Naked Truth. Only copies of this book will be signed, and books must be purchased from Left Bank. -- Paul Friswold
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Gojira, better known as Godzilla in this part of the world, celebrates his 50th birthday this year. Fifty years of rampaging, Tokyo-stomping and blasting giant monsters with radioactive breath: Most atomic avengers would be thinking about hanging it up and working on their golf handicap, maybe let Son of Godzilla take over the family business (G. Junior is about 36 now, and he hasn't done a damn thing with his life; does he have a bitchin' theme song or an instantly recognizable battle shriek?). But retiring is not the Godzilla way. Instead, Big G. is touring the country with a remastered version of the original, Raymond Burr-less Godzilla movie, which plays at the Tivoli (6350 Delmar Boulevard; call 314-995-6270 for times and prices) for one week starting Friday, August 13. For a full review, see "Burning Japanese". -- Paul Friswold
Working for Tips
You work hard for your money and deserve to be treated right, especially by public officials. After all, you pay their salaries. See if you get what you pay for at Saint Louis Crisis Nursery's Celebrity Waitresses and Waiters' Night at Luciano's Trattoria in Clayton (172 Carondelet Plaza). St. Louis Fire Chief Sherman George or Police Chief Joe Mokwa just might be your waiter; tip them well no matter how bad the service is -- tips are what count at this fundraiser. We bet that Ivory Crockett, the world's fastest man (who knew he was here in St. Louis?), will collect the most money -- quick service is always rewarded. Call the restaurant at 314-863-9969 to make a reservation between 5 and 10 p.m., and check out the raffle items and the other familiar faces waiting tables. Trust us: It's nice to be on the other end of serving once in a while. -- Alison Sieloff
Wine is, to our knowledge, the only foodstuff in the world produced by foot-stomping. (Seriously, would you eat mashed potatoes prepared this way?) Despite the unappetizing production method, wine remains popular. The Great Stone Hill Grape Stomp at Stone Hill Winery (1110 Stone Hill Highway, Hermann, Missouri), a fundraiser for the River Bluff Industries, Inc. workshop for the mentally and/or physically challenged, proves the popularity with long lines of happy smashers waiting to stomp grapes flat. Spectator (i.e., no-stompy) tickets for the 1 p.m. event are $2, and you get a free winery tour. Just try not to think about bunions when sampling the wares. Call 800-909-9463 for info. -- Paul Friswold
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