For some folks, the name Larry Flynt conjures up the memory of that first real glimpse of genitalia. But for we journalists who cut our teeth in Southern California, the thought of Flynt brings us back to the dawn of our careers. In addition to offering the undeniable perks of admiring the boss' diamond-studded vagina necklace while strolling opulent hallways, a gig at Larry Flynt Publications was a rite of passage for many of L.A.'s most talented editors. But lest future Pulitzer Prize winners worry that this résumé credit might look like a youthful indiscretion, we'd like to remind you that Flynt has long been celebrated as a free speech advocate. Since the 1970s, this rebel with a cause has fought -- and won -- countless court battles challenging the freedom of the press.
In the late 1990s, the self-described "smut peddler with opinions" turned his attentions to exposing congressmen like Bob Barr and Robert Livingston, both of whom publicly lambasted Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial yet privately engaged in extramarital affairs. And in 1999, Flynt sought to uncover the rumored misdeed of a 25-year-old George W. Bush, who allegedly paid for a girlfriend to have a then-illegal abortion, but he was never able to gather enough evidence to prove the charge.
Such difficulties haven't deterred the publisher-cum-political activist, who rolls into town this week to tout his latest anti-Republican manifesto, Sex, Lies and Politics: The Naked Truth. Support our favorite pornographer as he exercises his First Amendment rights at 6 p.m. in the Fairmont Hotel's Gold Room, 950 Mason (at California), S.F. Admission is $15-30; call 597-6705 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.
-- Jane Tunks
The Pony Queen
Hello, hybridization. In the case of Rock Me Pony lead singer Vanessa Morrison, it's polyrhythms and acoustic guitar, Bessie Smith and Joni Mitchell, a gravelly voice and a slick attitude. As part of the turned-up-to-11 folk revival notarized by Ani DiFranco a while back, the band's got both funk and country up its flowing sleeve. Ms. Morrison is also known for her intensity, her charm, and her dirty mouth -- just how we like it around these parts. Tonight, the group celebrates the release of its second recording, O Better Days. Slim and Katy J open at 9 at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $8; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Toto, I think we're still in Kansas
"Dust in the Wind" and "Carry On Wayward Son" are forever cemented in the pantheon of classic rock (as well as permanently in the brains of anyone who grew up listening to the radio in the '70s), the legacy of a little band from Topeka called Kansas. Maybe you've heard of it? So many things have come back around since 1974 (the year of the act's eponymous debut album) that it's hardly surprising to see these guys together once more, but it is good to see photos on the group's Web site showing the members looking healthy and still totally rocking -- a low incidence of sellout haircuts and khaki pants here. Head to the point of know return when Kansas plays live for free at 2:30 p.m. in Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero & Market, S.F.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Queen of the B's
The readable, ravishing Mary Woronov
Anyone who's ever watched the underground film Eating Raoul or the futuristic road-rage flick Death Race 2000 or even the campy Ramones vehicle Rock 'n' Roll High School has generally come away with one burning question: Who is that scene-stealing super-hottie actress? Though she never gained the massive fame she deserved, Mary Woronov is still slavishly revered by cultish cinephiles for her sharp, savvy indie-film performances. But Woronov's more than just a movie icon -- she's also the author of five books, including the delicious memoir Swimming Underground: My Years in the Warhol Factory. She's in town today to read from her latest, the short-story collection Blind Love, joining writers Adele Bertei, Mark Ewert, Felice Picano, and host Michelle Tea at the "Radar Reading" series starting at 6 p.m. in the Main Library's Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4400 or visit www.sfpl.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
"Basically, we're the freakiest of the freaky freaks," says Carmenchu Caballero about the Mystic Family Circus, a collective of DJs, bands, and performance artists. Many events that star the Family are so underground that only the über-hip are invited. But the rest of us have a chance to gawk at cutting-edge creative work from the revolving roster of acts at the monthly salon "Under One Umbrella." This time, it features the theater piece Izunagi/Izunami, DJs Neel Kizmyaz and MOONdoggy cranking up the funky beats, and HoT MuTE laying down some power pop at 10 p.m. at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 974-1719.
-- Joyce Slaton