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Mark Cromer Interview

I had lunch with journalist Mark Cromer at The Continental (Gale and Wilshire Blvd, a block east of Larry Flynt Publications) Friday, June 17, at noon.

Mark runs his tape recorder along with mine.

Mark: "The reason I wanted to talk to you is this: Over the past seven months, on several occasions, I've had to deal with people asking me questions about my departure from Larry Flynt Publications and Hustler magazine [where Mark served as features editor for five months under Editor Bruce David] based on the information that Bruce David and some of his associates on the tenth floor [LFP corporate headquarters, the editorial staff works on the third floor] have put out. Specifically on your site and Mike Albo's site. A couple of week's ago, I was at a media party..."

Waiter: "Do you want to order?"

Mark: "Sure."

Luke: "I'll get the Mediterranean Vegetable Salad."

Mark: "Being the carnivore that I am, I'll have the French Dip."

Waiter: "Fries or salad?"

Mark: "Nothing. Just fries."

Waiter: "Do you want Swiss cheese on it?"

Mark: "Cheddar."

"So I was at this media party in Hollywood a few weeks ago. And several people in the course of the evening, a couple of whom I didn't even know, came up to me and basically said, "Yeah, I heard you heard resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct." It is very frustrating, to say the least, to have to weather that sort of thing for seven months, you know, because it is not true. None of it is. And I've remained silent about it since last fall, as my lawyer has been trying to work it out with Flynt's lawyers. During this time, they have put out false and demeaning allegations which have resulted in moments like what happened the other night, so I am just not going to sit here and take it any longer. I did not resign, I was forced out by Bruce David. There was never any instance and not a single incident of "sexual misconduct"-whatever that means-on my part with another LFP employee or anyone else for that matter.

"To the contrary, as my employee file reflects, I had received nothing but glowing evaluations.

"What did happen is simply this: Bruce David, along with another editor named Tom Farrell, spread a rumor around the staff that I was intimately involved with Alaina F-orante, who worked down the hall on Flynt's websites. The rumor wasn't true at all. I was a work-friend of Alaina and we talked a lot, but that's all it was. But the fact is that Bruce despised Alaina because she had previously filed a formal complaint with Human Resources against Bruce after he told her he wouldn't hire a woman (and specifically her) for an editing job that was open. That got him into major hot water with Human Resources. So when I became friends with Alaina, against Bruce's dire warnings that I had better not associate with her, he ended-up spreading a lie about us. "I confronted Bruce and Tom about it and Alaina and I filed a complaint with Human Resources. Bruce warned me if I went to HR he would, in his words, 'destroy' me in the company. I think he was terrified that if we complained to HR he might be fired himself for spreading such rumors. But Bruce still carries the cache of being Larry Flynt's close friend, so he is rather untouchable in that building, clearly operating above the guidelines that LFP states in its 'Employee Handbook,' which does not apply to Bruce David. He operates with impunity. Anyway, he was true to his word, as he coerced, threatened, browbeat and ultimately fired me. It all went down rather quickly."

On October 31, 2004, I got a phone call from someone close to LFP saying that Mark Cromer had been fired for reasons of "sexual misconduct."

I emailed Bruce David about Mark Cromer: "Why was he fired?"

Bruce replied November 2, 2004: "He resigned. I would like to tell you the whole story but company policy prohibits that. You can talk to Cromer if you like but his version of events is likely to be inaccurate. I don't really think he knows what happened even though he, no doubt, believes he does. It was with deep regret that I felt compelled to accept his resignation. For me, it's not just the end of a professional relationship but the end of a friendship as well."

Mark tells me over lunch June 17, 2005: "I realized that I had been patient trying to let the process work itself out with my lawyer dealing with their lawyers... I hope that process proves conclusive. It's been seven months. I can't continue to be in a situation where I'm asked these questions. I think it's unfair that [the sexual misconduct charge has been put out] and I've never answered it."

Mark: "My association with Larry Flynt goes back to 1992. I was a daily news reporter a chain of newspapers [Whittier Daily News, Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune] covering crime in South-East Los Angeles County. I was also freelancing for The Los Angeles Times. I started freelancing for Hustler Erotic Video Guide. Scott Mallory was my editor. I worked under the pen name Elliott Heathcoat. I wasn't doing porn reviews. I did essays on the politics of porn.

"In 1997, I was doing an LA Weekly piece on Larry Flynt's magazine Rage, which had just folded. That's how I met Bruce David. We bonded quickly as friends. We stayed in touch. We corresponded about politics and journalism. I showed Bruce some copies of Low. a college magazine I had been publishing for almost ten years that had grown to eight universities with a circulation of about 20,000.

"One day, Bruce said this magazine would be a great thing for Larry to buy. At that time, LFP was aggressively acquiring titles. We pitched it to them. We went through a couple of months of negotiations. At the end, Jim [Kohls, then LFP president] took a pass, and they acquired instead Backswing, a golf magazine brought in by Lonn Friend and Dweezle Zappa. That ended up as a stillbirth.

"As a result of that, I got to know the executives in the LFP corporate structure.

"In 1998, I did a piece for Wired magazine about a guy who ran a website called Jail Babes. We pitched that to Jim Kohls. He bought it on the spot. He made me editor. That became Jail Babes magazine, website and video line. It was the first cross-platform product LFP owned entirely.

"At that time, Jim and Larry had licensed out the Hustler name to Vivid. That's why it couldn't be called Hustler Video. It was called "Larry Flynt Presents..." I went to work in the tower [located on Wilshire and La Cienega Blvds] until the Fall of 1999, when they folded the magazine. We continued to produce the video series through 2002.

"I had continued my journalism career throughout, freelancing for various publications like the LA Weekly and in 2003 I was the Orange County news bureau reporter in Santa Ana for the Los Angeles Daily Journal [a legal daily].

"At the end of 2003, I sold my house and moved to Flagstaff, where I was working on a book, following a stint working with Danni Ashe on her aborted auto-biography.

"In the summer of 2004, Bruce David asked me (with Jim Kohls' blessing) to become features editor of Hustler. I started on July 6.

"The back story of what happened to me in late October is this:

"Bruce and I were essentially best-friends and had been for years. Bruce's star at Hustler has shined to varying degrees of luminescence depending on the currents on the tenth floor. For instance, his magazine Brown Sugar was folded the day before Jail Babes. Within two weeks, they brought Bruce back into the company doing Hustler Comix, I think. Then they folded that. Then he was an editor at Hustler under Allan MacDonnell. Larry has always found a job for Bruce. If Bruce had a friend closer than me, it was probably Larry, though it was more of a historical friendship. It wasn't like Bruce was hanging out with Larry on a regular basis, but they certainly had a tight historical bond.

"Bruce is sworn enemies with Allan MacDonnell, the editor who took Bruce's place at Hustler. You can't overstate the animosity that flows between those two guys."

Luke: "Why do Bruce and Allan hate each other? "

Mark: "Professional jealousy.

"Before Allan MacDonnell was fired, Bruce was actively working to get him fired, verbally shanking him at every opportunity. It was really death by a thousand cuts. Ultimately Bruce succeeded. I participated in drafting several memos with Bruce, proofing them and offering suggestions. These memos went directly to Larry."

Our food arrives. We keep talking as we eat.

Mark: "The memos were essentially critiques of what's wrong with Hustler.

"When Bruce became Editor, he still had to work with Allan's crew -- Tim Kenneally, Dan Kapelovitz, Kevin Wright and some others. From the get-go, Bruce wanted them out. He wanted to whack out all of them because he was certain they would conspire against him-just as he had with Allan when he was under him. It's a little bit like Ceasar's court, isn't it? Intrigue, subterfuge, betrayal. Anyway, Bruce wanted to fire them all but he knew he had to be careful how he did it. It came about in early 2004. Bruce was becoming the subject of discussion on these blogs [Mike Albo's and mine]. Bruce saw it as his opportunity to act and get these people [purportedly loyal to Allan] out. Kenneally was the first to go. I'm not sure they ever gave specific reasons when they started firing these guys. But the absolute reason was Bruce wanted them out. He felt that he couldn't trust them. Politics trumped ethical and editorial considerations."

Luke: "What do you mean by political? Internal politics or geopolitical politics?"

Mark: "That as well. I'd argue that a person could not be an open Republican on the third floor under Bruce [where the editorial staff resides], for whatever that's worth. Boiler plate Leftist politics prevail, which I suppose is his druthers and I am a Democrat, so whatever, but it can get a little tinny in an echo-chamber. After Kenneally (Hustler Managing Editor) and Kamila Kowalczyk (Hustler Art Director), Bruce fired a few more staffers like Dan Kapelovitz [Features Editor, were fired by Bruce], the Erotic Entertainment editor whose name escapes me and finally Mike Allen (Bits & Pieces Editor). It was surreal. I knew they were going to be fired weeks and, in some instances, months before they were. Bruce felt they had to be fired so they would not gossip about him online and so he could cement his control.

"I was freelancing for Hustler at the time as well as for other publications such as LA Weekly.

"They brought me in as features editor with a base salary of $50,000 annually and another $20,000 guaranteed freelance. At the time, Bruce was making $85,000 which was a little more than half of what Allan was making when he left. But Bruce gets built-in freelance as well, so he's probably over $100,000 by now."

Cromer's predecessor was Dan Kapelovitz who made $35,000 annually (with bumps for freelance work). "They were paying more to get me. Bruce had to do some dancing to get that. He scrambled the numbers and found a way to make it work.

"I had recommended Keith Valcourt. He's a sitcom bit-player. He was brought in at a lower salary to replace Mike Allen. Also, Tom Farrell, the erotic entertainment editor.

"Prior to me getting there, Bruce had fired [four editorial staffers including Tim Kenneally, Randy, Camilla, the art director].

"I moved to this block in Beverly Hills [down the street from LFP]. Almost immediately, we [Bruce and Mark] started getting hammered online [on my site (but not by me but by those emailing me) and Mike Albo's]. It was on Albo's site every day. This sent Bruce into the stratosphere. He'd just fired these people but someone still in the organization was leaking information that was getting online. Bruce's paranoia increased exponentially. I can't begin to tell you how freaked out he was, how enraged he became.

"My first two months on the job, half of my workday was spent in meetings regarding these issues. It was surreal. Bruce had particular animosity for Barely Legal editor Lisa Jenio. He hates her with a passion he usually reserves for hard-line Feminists. Bruce described mockingly how she was crying in the hallway the day Allan was let go. She apparently had told Jim Kohls or LFP Vice President Donna Hahner that she could not work with Bruce David, which was ballsy for Lisa to do, considering they could've fired her. But she was successful. She essentially had autonomy. Bruce's classification is LFP Editorial Director. He's not just Editor of Hustler. Technically, he has control over all the publications. But not really Barely Legal. That was Lisa's magazine.

"Consequently, Bruce resented her extremely. A. She was a friend of Allan's. B. She remained loyal to Allan. C. He felt he couldn't trust her as a result of that. D. She would not work with him, which galled him to no end.

"He had every intent to fire her. But he had to take his time as to who he was going to fire and when. When the s--- started to hit the fan on these various websites, Lisa Jenio was immediately suspected of being a conduit of this information as was Alaina F-orante (editorial assistant). When a position came open, Alaina applied for it. Bruce David made the mistake of openly telling her, 'I don't want a woman in that position. I want a man. This is Hustler and that's a man's job.'

"Well, Alaina went immediately to Human Resources and reported this. That's illegal. Consequently, Alaina was taken out of Bruce David's bailiwick and given another job (at Flynt Digital). Alaina is persona non grata in Bruce's world and a suspect for leaking information.

"The level of paranoia pervading that third floor office when I walked in last year was enormous. It was oppressive. It starts to take on the hue of Absurdist Theater, like a Beckett play, very surreal. And it's very, very L.A., in that everyone loves you until the moment they don't.

"As the online posts escalated, Bruce demands and gets a company-wide investigation into who's leaking this information."

Luke: "Why didn't you guys squash Albo earlier [so that he couldn't write derogatory things about Bruce David and LFP]?"

Mark: "I'm the one who figured out that Dennis Hof owned that site [AdultStarsNews]. When I gave that information to Bruce, he was on the phone to Dennis in a heartbeat. That's how that was resolved. Some of it was harmless. A lot of it was distracting.

"Albo's site was just a conduit for information that enraged Bruce. I was certainly pissed off. It didn't consume me to the extent it consumed Bruce.

"I was brought in specifically, along with Tom Farrell, and my recommendation to hire Keith, to form a firewall around Bruce to allow Bruce to pursue his editorial vision without the fear of being conspired against. The mistake I made was that his paranoia never ended. I don't know it ever will. I don't know how many people will be fired before they figure that out.

"Sean Carney had been Bruce's research director. He became Hustler Video's head of promotions. Carney was also on Bruce's firing squad. He wanted Lisa Jenio's editorial assistant Matt Brand fired. And Kevin Wright, another holdover from MacDonnell. All of them, he wanted them gone. In some instances, like Matt Brand, it was strictly a matter of his association with Lisa. I mean, that's all it was. Matt's a good guy, he was always at his desk early, he put in the hours and he was sharp. But Bruce wanted to fire him because he worked for Lisa. That's how Nixonian it got. Paranoid, petty and power-driven.

"Lynn Heller (LFP VP of Human Resources) held a meeting in the ninth floor conference room attended essentially by the LFP editorial staff, Bruce, yours truly, the whole crew, in which Lynn read from the Human Resources policy book about gossip. The policy states that if you gossip, you can be disciplined up to being fired.

"Something popped up in a blog right after the meeting. This is the email Bruce sent (7/26/04) Lynn Heller. He copied it over to me:"

'Regarding Mike Albo's Website'

This morning Mike Albo updated his site to announce the firing of Mike Allen at LFP. In addition, he continues his malicious and mendacious attacks against me, selected members of my staff and, as of today, my wife. These attacks are disruptive to my operation, undercut my authority, erode morale and drain my time as I am forced to deal with issues that should be not part and parcel of running a national publication. I am at a loss to understand why the company does not feel it should aggressively protect its own good name but it is crucial to me that the company protect me and my staff from attacks that clearly originate from within the company.

My personal belief is that we should pay special attention to two sources of leaks within the company: First, the clique composed of Lisa Jenio, Matt Brand, Alaina F-orante and Kevin Wright. Second, Sean Carney. In the first case, the likely flow of information is Matt to Lisa to MacDonnell. In the second, the likely flow is Carney to Kapelovitz to MacDonnell and or Albo.

Thus, I am once again asking the company to launch a full investigation into this matter.

The investigation should include:

1. Sit-down interviews with all relevant parties. They should be warned that lying will be grounds for termination, then asked, at a minimum, the two following questions: "Did you contact Mike Albo and or Allan MacDonnell to communicate gossip or proprietary information?" "Do you know who did?"

2. The phone records of all parties should be reviewed to see who may have called Mike Albo and or Allan MacDonnell.

3. The computers of all parties should be examined to see who may have emailed Mike Albo and or Allen MacDonnell.

Anyone caught lying or anyone who admits passing on such information after the Friday meeting warning about such communication, should be terminated.

Mark: "Nothing came of the investigation. But as a result of this hoopla, Bruce was more determined than ever to finish clearing the decks.

"In the meantime, I had become friends with Alaina F-orante and was friendly with Lisa Jenio, you know, would casually chat with her in the hallway sometimes. This was very disturbing to Bruce. One time Bruce saw the three of us, me, Alaina and Lisa walking back from the Coffee Bean together, he was outside having a cigarette, and later on, in his office, he went off about how I was "cavorting with those snakes." If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny.

"I'd go out and have lunch with Alaina. It was strictly professional. [No sexual contact.] We'd talk about life. Bruce warned me about this on several occasions. 'You will not hang out with this snake.'" He made these horrible remarks about her looks, her appearance. I told him I thought she was a cool hippie chick and he just mocked me. His vitriol was intense.

Luke: "Where is Scott Fayner in all this?"

Mark: "He was just a cool dude. He was drifting around. He seemed amicably out of it. We gave him a couple of assignments. One he botched. One he came in with -- taking a porn star home to mom. Bruce didn't trust Fayner but he harbored no animosity towards Fayner.

"Bruce and I were very good friends. We trusted each other. I don't regret the friendship. You know, I spent the better part of a decade figuratively at the guy's side, and whatever happens now doesn't erase that fact. I'm not much one for revisionism, you know, the whole "Well I never really did like the guy…" kind of thing. I really loved Bruce as a friend. He was a mentor of sorts. A colleague. I suppose this is a sad end to that friendship, but it doesn't negate what was.

"After six weeks [as Hustler Features editor], I was tired of trying to find out who was saying what online, tired of who was trying to figure out who was conspiring with who. We had a magazine to put out. While Bruce was the figurehead, I was in the trenches with everyone else. I was working twelve-hour days. It was immense and intense. That's why what was going out on the web was a distraction, particularly for me, because I had work to do. Bruce could spend time on manipulating this and doing working out a judo flip so he could turn it around on his remaining "enemies" in the editorial structure.

"Ultimately, Bruce sees his opening to fire Lisa Jenio. Bruce managed to get Larry's permission to fire Lisa. It was related to me by Bruce that Larry said he was impressed with what we were doing with Hustler and he wanted Bruce to take a more active role on Barely Legal (magazine). Perhaps the numbers were slipping. I know Jim Kohls and Larry claimed they were slipping on the video. Clive McLean and I had many a conversation about that. Anyway, Bruce used that opportunity to remind Larry that he had not been allowed to work directly on Barely Legal the magazine because Lisa did not want to work with him. Larry gave the green light to Bruce to replace her.

"Bruce told me he intended to promote Hustler editorial assistant Hans Feuersinger to editor of Barely Legal. Hans was on 'our team.'"

Luke: "Is it coincidental that all the people on Bruce's team were men?"

Mark: Mark: "No. Nor is it coincidental that they are almost exclusively white.

"I thought it was a good idea to promote Hans. He's young, vibrant, likes his work, and believes in the product. Early on after my arrival I had advocated that Bruce give Hans an office, a raise, and business cards. It was all about 'building our team,' and my view was that's how you do it. You reward. You include.

"I later heard that after Hans got some of these perks that Lisa Jenio went to Bruce, or maybe it was Donna Hahner who then asked Bruce, and requested the same thing for Lisa's assistant Matt Brand. Bruce said 'no.' Of course, he was also hoping to fire Matt as well, as a result of the online gossip debacle.

"I had no problem with Lisa but there was nothing I could do for Lisa. Bruce was deadset on firing her.

"So, I took Hans out on a Friday (October 8, 2004) here to the Continental. We had a couple of drinks. Bruce had asked me not to say anything about his plans to Hans. I decided it would be good to sound Hans out on if he was ready to go from Editorial Assistant to Editor of the second biggest title in porn title at LFP (Barely Legal). Hans was ready to move on if he wasn't bumped up.

"I told Hans that good news was around the corner. My advice to you is to take it. I told him I couldn't tell him what it was. I was cagey. I honored Bruce's request."

My water glass is empty. I look around for the waitress. I don't want to say anything. Mark says, "I'll grab her when she comes back." He does.

Mark: "I worked almost every weekend. I sent Bruce an email and told him about my drinks with Hans and that I had asked him if he was ready to jump up to the big leagues, if given the opportunity.

"Bruce hit the roof because Bruce decided over the weekend to give [the Editor of Barely Legal position] to Monique Raphael High (a Hustler contributor). She's a great writer. She's published best-selling books. She has her own writing company. Hands down, as a writer, Hans is not even in the same galaxy as Monique. By the way, her husband Ben Pesta is Bruce David's lawyer.

"But Monique was a bad fit for Barely Legal, even if she wanted it, which she ultimately didn't.

"Most magazines award editorship based on resume, experience, talent, persona, etc. At LFP, you enter a netherwold. It's completely political. It seemed that way under Allan, though I never worked under him, but it certainly was under Bruce. That's not to say there aren't very talented people there, because there are, but under Bruce office politics trumps all other considerations. Period."

On Sunday, October 10, 2004, Mark Cromer emailed Bruce David:

Despite your angry attempt at clairvoyance, I in fact did not offer or promise Hans anything. Nor did I advise him of anything we discussed. Accordingly, I absolutely did not "betray" your request. What I did do (which I thought would be helpful and which is commonplace at most publications that matter) is sound Hans out as to how he felt about the team and the company and whether or not he was still interested in moving up? Could he put in more time? Where did he see his job here going? Etc.

Does Hans think he is going to be promoted? Certainly not specifically as a result of anything I said to him. You might recall, however, that you made it clear to Hans months ago that you saw promise in him and that if he got his shit together he would be an inside candidate for the A-Train. The fact is Hans will leave the company within the next year if he is not promoted. I know this based on what he said he is getting from Gaby at home. I don't blame him. Who wants to enter his third year as an editorial assistant at $26k a year as they are closing on 30-years old?

I offer no "specious defense" of Hans for the position. I advocated for him the second you told me of your basic plan... I think he would bring the verve and attitude and sensibility to it that is needed and would remain loyal to you and our vision. I also like Monique and think she is a solid writer and I am sure if you ask her she will have nothing but nice things to say about me as well. But let's get one thing straight here, this was your plan. I told you it was a good idea. If you would have mentioned Monique on Friday downstairs, I would have told you then that I think that is a bad idea.

I understand as well that you want to help Ben financially, but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that I think that if you give it to her it will blow up in your face within weeks, not months. It will compromise you and give your enemies on 10 [th floor] a serious opening to question your judgment. You have already been accused of being 'too old' to steer Hustler (which of course is horseshit), but a misstep here would be dangerous.

Hans knows the system, he knows the aesthetic of the look, he brings ideas to the table and he is malleable to your agenda and loyal to you as a boss. Monique will be lost. Period. Her heart will not be in it. If you were offering her an editorship at Random House or McGraw Hill, I would say you couldn't have done better. But this is not the case.

As I said on the phone, I will publicly support and defend your decision whatever it may be. I will help Monique to the best of my ability either as editor or colleague.

Privately, however, I reserve the right to advise you when I think you are carrying a torch into the ammunition dump.

I share your vision and usually admire you. I am not a 'yes man."

I can't imagine you hired me to be.

Mark: "Wednesday (October 14), Hans and I come over here for a quick one. Hans says, I heard you're having sex with 'Miss X' [a female staffer at LFP]. I said, it's not true.

"Hans said that Tom Farrell had told this rumor over lunch in front of six other LFP staffers. I was just shellshocked.

"I went home that night and explained the situation over the phone to Bruce David. Bruce was silent. Then he said, well, that's disturbing. I'll take care of it in the morning.

"But I knew right then that Bruce David had a hand in this because Bruce David gives Tom Farrell a ride home every night. Tom doesn't own a car.

"The next day, I came in to work around 8:45 a.m.[starting time is 9 a.m. at Hustler], Bruce usually arrives between 10 and 10:30 a.m. But on this day he was in before me. Tom was in his office with the door shut. I believe they were getting their story straight.

"Bruce talks to me later and says it was taken care of. That Tom was 'chastened.'

"To cover my bases, I wrote a memo to Bruce that if that wasn't taken care of, I'd go to Human Resources.

"That comment laid the beginning of my end.

"Then in short order, I see Tom go back into Bruce's office. Tom leaves Bruce's office. Then Morgan Hagen comes into the office. Then Morgan leaves. Then Hans Feuersinger goes into Bruce's office. Then Hans leaves. Then Keith Valcourt goes into Bruce's office. Then Keith leaves. All at ten-minute intervals, Bruce had called them all in, one at a time. I knew something was up.

"That night, Morgan and I, who were traditionally the last staffers out of the building, came over here for a quick drink. Morgan drinks iced tea. We had a pizza.

"I said, 'I hope this is over. There was a rumor going on that I was involved with Miss X. I hope Bruce put an end to it.' Morgan said, 'Yeah, I never imagined you were sleeping with Alaina F-orante.'

"I said, 'What?' Morgan said, Bruce told me that he heard you were having an affair with Alaina F-orante.

"I said 'I heard that Tom Farrell was saying I was having an affair with Miss X [another LFP staffer, not Alaina].'

"Morgan said, no, Bruce asked us about Alaina.

"The next day, I went to Keith and Hans and they [confirmed] that Bruce felt you were having an affair with Alaina.

"I go into Bruce's office and say, I can't believe you're doing this. I'm going to HR. It's stressful enough working here. I can't go on every other day being falsely accused of carrying on sexual affairs with various women in the office.

"Bruce said 'I'll destroy you. Alaina is a snake. I brought you back into the fold. You betrayed me by associating with her and being friendly with Lisa Jenio. You cannot go to HR. He was adamant and visceral.

"It was around this time that Monique had met with Lynn Heller. They were discussing salary [if Monique was to become Editor of Barely Legal]. Everyone on the executive branch had signed off on firing Lisa. I was in Bruce's office during conference calls with Lynn Heller and Donna Hahner in which it was discussed. They just wanted the replacement ready to go. They planned to fire Lisa on a Friday. The usual: call her up to the 9th Floor at around 3 p.m., to Lynn Heller's office. The LFP death march.

"It was weird because Lisa was going about her business not knowing. The same thing had happened to Tim Kenneally and Dan Kapelovitz. We freelancers had worked with editors we knew had been fired, before they even knew it.

"Monday (October 19) rolls around. Bruce David took the day off. I told Alaina what was happening. She had been in the dark until this time. I felt I had to tell her, as it involved her. Alaina hit the roof. She said, we have to go to HR. I was very blunt with her that doing so would cost me my job, I explained what Bruce had been threatening me with. Alaina, rather naively I feel, remarked 'He can't touch you, you haven't done anything wrong.' Well, famous last words.

"Alaina said she wanted to go to HR. So we went up to HR and met with Lynn Heller. We laid it out for her. Outside of Alaina's presence I also explained Tom Farrell's earlier smear that I was involved with 'Miss X' in the building. I did so to protect 'Miss X.'

"This comes months after Bruce said, if you violate the gossip policy, you should be terminated.

"Lynn promised an investigation.

"The next morning, I told Bruce [about going to HR]. He just looked at me and said, 'You're dead.' I took that metaphorically, not literally.

"He went upstairs to see Lynn. When he came back down, his face was cherry tomato red.

"I walked into his office. He looked at me and said, 'I warned you. I have nothing to say to you. Get out of my office.'

"Half an hour later, he went downstairs to have a cigarette. I tried to talk to him. The same thing."That night, Morgan Hagen and Dave Cogan, a great journalist and dear friend I brought into Hustler, and I met over here. I'd fallen into a very deep funk. I'd come into this pressure cooker in July. Online we're getting attacked every day. I didn't sign up for this. The venom was directed at Bruce and I was catching flak because of my association with Bruce, the bad lieutenant. I was putting in twelve hours while Bruce kept less than banker hours. After weeks of threats and coercion, I'd had it.

"After a few drinks here, I went home, got online, and wrote Bruce a letter of resignation (about 3:30am). It was entirely a product of too many drinks and deep depression. I gave two weeks notice.

"I saw the friendship crumbling. I couldn't believe I had left the snowy paradise of Flagstaff just to run my ass off for Bruce and, in the end, be smeared by the guy. It was like a bad dream that had taken on a life of its own. It seemed the more I tried to placate him, the worse it got. But, it was clear I had signed my own death warrant at Hustler when I went to HR with Alaina.

"Suffice to say, I woke up at 9am, jumped in the shower and went to work. I was mad as hell. I was much more clear. Bruce comes into my office. He says, I got your email. Why don't we go downstairs and talk about it?

"I said sure. So I told him ' I want you to know I'm not resigning. You know where that letter came from. It was product of the last three weeks.'

"He was much calmer at first. He said, 'I didn't take it as a letter of resignation.'

"I proceeded to say, 'Look, you've been yelling and screaming at me, jabbing your finger at me. Every time I try to talk to you, it gets worse. I've done nothing wrong. The rumors aren't true. You've taken part in spreading them. Loyalty is a two-way street.'

"And then he just freaked. He yelled, 'You betrayed me by being involved with Alaina. I accept your resignation! I accept your resignation! I accept your resignation! You're outta here.'

"We go back inside the building and take the same elevator up. He said, I'm going to Donna Hahner's office and you're going to have a tough time explaining you didn't resign. I said, that's not all I'm going to explain, Bruce.

"He stepped out of the elevator and screamed, 'You're threatening me. Quit threatening me.' He was clearly trying to make a scene. It was a freak show.

"I ask you to imagine what it is like to work under these conditions. People are coming into my office and asking what is going on. Try editing under those circumstances. Try writing. It's like Kryptonite tied around your neck. You can't focus.

"I sent Bruce an email at work reaffirming that I had not resigned.

"When I got home that night, Bruce sent me an email to my home account saying that he had formally accepted my resignation.

"The next day, I get an email from Bruce asking for all outstanding writing assignments. Where they are at... At that point, I realized that was it.

"I called colleagues at the Daily Journal and asked for whoever they thought was one of the best employment lawyers in town. They suggested Nancy Gray, over in Century City. I called her up and ran down what was happening. She dictated a memo for me to write. I took it up to Donna Hahner and Lynn Heller and asked for permission to leave my desk. [Note: Dates are approximate. I believe Cromer's last day at work was October 20. He was paid through November 5.]

"Shortly before I left, Bruce had been calling the staff in one by one. He'd told them that I was leaving and that they weren't to talk to me. I became Dead Man Walking on the third floor.

"Over the weekend, I went in and cleared out my office of everything I'd need in the event I wasn't allowed back in. I took memos and files. I have a significant amount of material pertinent to my situation.

"I came back in on Monday (October 25) with Lynn. Donna Hahner is sitting there. It was a 15-minute meeting. I thought we were there to talk about what had been happening and work out a resolution. I was wrong. Donna is sitting there stone-faced. She doesn't say one word.

"Lynn asked me to briefly recapitulate what had happened with Bruce. I did. She said, you know we have an open-door policy here. You can come to Human Resources any time, no matter what your supervisor says. I explained that may be a nice line in the employee handbook, but that has no bearing on the reality of Bruce David's position and actions on the third floor. None whatsoever. And they know this. Lynn then said 'Well, it doesn't matter, because you quit.' I said, 'No, I didn't. That letter was the result of too many drinks after being browbeaten and coerced continuously for the last two-and-a-half weeks. I retracted it before it was accepted. I never resigned.

"She said, 'It doesn't matter. We're going to have to ask you to leave now. Don't be alarmed. But we do have security waiting for you in the hallway.' I said, 'Is this standard procedure to have security waiting for people who have quit?' She said, 'I have nothing else to say to you.'

"Security walked me to the elevator and made sure I left the building."

The news broke on my website Sunday, October 31st, that a source close to LFP said Mark Cromer was fired for sexual misconduct.

Mark: "I filed for unemployment. They fought it. They've lost three times now. I only received a few months of unemployment benefits, which have long since ended. But they fought it tooth and nail because their entire position is that I just suddenly resigned. That dog don't hunt. Lynn Heller testified under oath that she wasn't sure of Bruce David's title in the company, or how long Bruce David had worked for LFP, and couldn't describe his relationship with Larry Flynt.

"It's beyond the pale that a VP of Human Resources would not be aware of the above. The fact is, she is fully aware that there is an employee handbook for most employees, and a completely different set of unwritten rules for Bruce David and a couple other higher-ups. That's the reality of it.

"The bottom line is that Bruce David is untouchable in that company. I never resigned. I was forced out."

Cromer hasn't yet sued LFP for wrongful termination. "Bruce and I had a licensing agreement for a video we shot -- Real College Girls Out Of Control. I haven't received a penny. If we can't resolve this very soon, then I will have to proceed. The funny thing about lawyers is they like to end letters with a line about "amicable resolution." I understand the niceties of it I suppose, but let's be real: there is nothing amicable about any of this. There was nothing amicable about being forced out of my job, which cost me tens of thousands of dollars. There was nothing amicable about smearing me with rumors about something I never did. It was a ruthless experience and a very damaging one to me. There was nothing amicable about any of what Bruce David did, and there is nothing amicable about it now. So, we can close it up and move on with our respective lives, yes, and I suspect that's what's best for all concerned. But I am no longer going to sit back and get dumped on for seven months and remain silent about it. 'Amicable' or not.

"Look, after I was fired, Bruce stripped my name from the masthead even though I had stories for three more issues of Hustler I had edited in the can. I had freelance work that they only paid partially for. Bruce took my name off interviews I did with him that ran in the book. After he fired me, he ran a parody ad that I developed but was never paid for and never credited with. No, he has set the tone and it is not amicable.

"My lawyer fired off a letter to their lawyer and my name popped back in for one issue.

"It's just despicable, petty, vindictive actions on his part to, as he put it, 'destroy' me.

"Carolyn Sinclair, a young [24?] and talented contributor to Hustler, became the new Features Editor. She shows promise as a writer, but she was named to that position for one reason: because Bruce feels he can control her. That's the quintessential requirement for being on the third floor today.

"Carolyn, I have been told, has participated in some of what's come out of Bruce's office since I was forced out. Hustler contributors have told me that she has told them: 'I can't really say why he is gone, but you know I'll be easier to work with than Mark was. We just couldn't work with him anymore.' I am sure at Bruce's instruction she has intimated that I had done something wrong.

"I have also been told by contributors that Bruce has told them personally that he couldn't 'help me anymore, that he couldn't protect me anymore,' that's why I left. Intimating that I had a problem. That's a smear by a vague insinuation. It's calculated and damaging and it's meant as such. It's like when he rushed out to comment on this very blog, after he forced me out, to say he couldn't comment about it, yet he then proceeds to comment about it.

"The irony is that because Bruce fired me, he couldn't fire Lisa Jenio as he had planned. I was forced out and the very next week Monique took a pass because of the money they offered her. Hans apparently never got a bump up, as I think he is still an editorial assistant.

"I'm not going to remain quiet about it anymore. I want to set the record straight. If it gets even less amicable than it already has been, so be it. I certainly don't desire that, but I am not going to take it anymore.

"If LFP wants to conclude this, that's great. And if they don't, that's fine too."

I emailed Bruce David for comment. He replied: "I'm passing the interview on to my attorney for possible legal action."

8/6/98

From the archives of lukeford.com:

5PM I sit in the sun beside the pool with Matt Labash, Mark Cromer, the LA Weekly journalist working on their forthcoming porn-HIV cover story, Bruce David of Larry Flynt Publications and Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw weekly.

Luke: "What did you think of Screwed, the [1996] movie?"

Al: "It was a piece of s---. The guys who made the movie were a bunch of retarded adolescent punks who did not know how to make a good movie. They had a great subject."

Bruce David, self described LFP's official gopher, says it was surface, shallow and a big disappointment. "I've known Al for 30 years. I know the depth and the issues and they just treated him like he was a pussy eater."

Bruce David now writes Hustler comics.

He was a starving journalist in New York in the late '60s. Then he started a sex paper to make some money. As he dropped it off at newsstands, he was followed by Mafia in trucks trying to intimidate him. The mob controlled newsstand distribution. Then Bruce folded his paper and joined Screw. He started Al's cable TV show Midnight Blue. In 1974 he reviewed the first edition of Hustler, congratulating it for edging out Refrigerator Monthly as the most boring publication in America. Larry Flynt phoned him and hired him in 1975 to edit Hustler.

"I understood what Larry was trying to do and I knew that magazine was going to be successful. I knew that I could show him the way to do it. I bought in good writers and artists.

"I was an absolute slut. After work, I'd go down to Harry's Bar in Century City and drink until I picked someone up."

Bored, Bruce left in 1982 to write for TV (Family Ties, Alf…). In 1983, he became introspective and started meditating. Bruce married in 1985. He had kids. Needing a steady pay check, he returned to LFP in 1996.

"I thought the Larry Flynt movie was great, and very accurate. Everything in it was true. You might argue about some of the stuff left out. But if I were writing my movie, I would not necessarily include the negative things."

Mark: "I just ran into Vanessa Del Rio buying cigarettes. I wanted to tell her that I've always admired the size of her clit, but it didn't seem to be the place to do it."

The Bruce David character in the movie is portrayed by Crispin Glover, the guy with the lazy eye. "He was going to be the editor but we had our lawyer send a cease and desist order.

"People attracted to work in the porn industry tend to be damaged people. They're making a calculated gamble. Nobody is forcing them. We're all free to choose our own path to self destruction.

"Pornography has no power over me. Working at LFP, I see naked women all the time, but it's rare that I see a photo set that is a turn-on.

"I can't comment on Hustler magazine. Allan MacDonell and I don't get along. We don't communicate. Larry does not ask me for my views on Hustler."

1/31/03

Scott Schalin interview.

Q: "What's the story with Allan [MacDonnell] leaving LFP?"

Scott: "I'm good friends with Alan. I think he's one of the smartest, most talented writers in the adult industry. The magazine industry is suffering from erosion from the internet and DVDs.

"As a result, Larry was looking to make an editorial change. He wanted to make it more political again, like it used to be.

"Look at the first two Bruce David [new editor of Hustler] issues. They're super-political again.

"Allan's take was that people don't want politics with their porn. I agree with that. I liked the Allan-version of Hustler. It was porn and smutty and gossipy and inside-the-industry. If you whack off, do you really want to read about what happened in Iraq?

"Allan is writing screenplays now."

Speculating On Future Of Hustler Editor Bruce David

Mike Albo writes 5/13/04:

We love stories about Hustler Editorial Director Bruce David. He's a wacky individual, and, from what we hear, he's getting wackier by the minute.

Among the latest rumors to be circulating about Bruce is that, in addition to only spending about 15 hours at his desk conducting personal business this week, Bruce has retroactively invoiced LFP for thousands of dollars for his "publisher's statements." To that we say, "Shoot for the moon, Bruce! You deserve every penny!"

Also being speculated upon is whether or not Bruce is not-so secretly plotting a scheme whereby he and next-best-thing-to-a-personal-butt-boy Mark Cromer will become the next video kings of Porn Valley. Hey, they did hatch the "Jail Babes" series, so the sky's the limit with these two geniuses.

Change At Asshole Of The Month

Mike Albo writes 5/17/04:

Spoke with my bud Tim Kenneally last night. Tim, as you might recall, was recently removed from his post as Managing Editor at Hustler to make room for former Busty Beauties Editor N. Morgen Hagen.

According to Tim, he was given the standard "this-hurts-us-more-than-it-hurts-you-but-don't-worry-we'll-have-freelance-work-for-you" song and dance so many of us freed LFP slaves have heard before being slapped in cuffs and escorted off company property.

One of the more popular features of Hustler is the magazine's "Asshole of the Month" editorial. Tim long handled the duties of that department wih humor and aplomb. Unfortunately, in yet another of the brilliant editorial moves of Hustler Editorial Director and Master of the Bat-tusi Bruce David, Tim's skills and insight will be replaced by the turgid musings of Bruce's man-servant Mark Cromer. Any editor who has tried to work with Cromer's text will know from where we're coming.

However, the die is cast and the race has been run, and, with that in mind, we certainly know whom we would profile as the first Cromer-written "Asshole" column. Let's just say this person knows a hack when he sees one.

FAYNER BANNED FROM HUSTLER PARTY

Mike Albo writes 7/9/04:

Just when I think things can't get any weirder over at the Black Tower, I get word from one of my many inside tipsters that Scott Fayner of www.LukeFord.com has been denied a ticket to the upcoming 30th Anniversary party for Hustler magazine.

It's weird because of all the people who have passed through Larry's empire, Scott's always been very careful to say only nice things about the company, Larry, Bruce David and the Professor and Mary-Ann. And this is the thanks he gets? What kind of unfeeling monsters are these people?

According to my source, Liz Flynt, Larry's wife, is "mad" at Scott about some as-yet-unrevealed transgression and has put his name on a "special list" of folks who are to be stopped at the door should they have audacity to try to crash the exclusive soiree.

Scott, don't feel bad. I've been to a number of LFP parties. They're not that fun, the drinks aren't free, there's always somebody watching you and Bruce David is usually lurking around somewhere. That last thing alone should have you thanking the Spirit In the Sky that you're not going to be there. You can have a better time at any neighborhood carwash or crack house. Trust me.

A Brief Chat With Bruce David, Mark Cromer

7/27/04

Bruce David is the Editor-In-Chief of Hustler Magazine and the Editorial Director for Larry Flynt Publications. Mark Cromer (with credits in The Los Angeles Times, Nation Magazine, etc) is his Features Editor.

Bruce appears prominently in Larry Flynt's autobiography and is part of a composite role in the movie made about Larry. David has known Flynt since about 1975.

I've heard that Larry removed the previous Hustler editor Allan MacDonnell in 2003 because of derogatory remarks Allan made about Larry at a Friars' roast. Allan is now finishing off a memoir of his LFP days to be published next year by Feral House.

I first met Bruce David and Mark Cromer at the pool of the Universal Hilton during the World Pornography Conference on August 6, 1998. It was late on a Friday afternoon. We sat with Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw, and his girlfriend Rose Robbins, his corporate counsel. We all had a long good chat.

I'd heard Mark hated me and I was defensive. The first thing I said to him was, 'I heard you hate me.' He was amused. He was also jazzed about meeting Vanessa Del Rio in the gift shop. He wanted to compliment her on her enormous clit but he didn't think it was appropriate and so he said nothing on that score.

Mark did a 1998 cover story for LA Weekly called "The Last Ride" about the industry's HIV problem (five tested positive that year). Max Hardcore was on the cover. Mark later did a story for the Weekly on Tony Montana's testing HIV positive. Then, in 2001, he did a long piece for the Nation magazine (an intellectual weekly on the Left) on the Bush administration's planned war on porn and the Cambria List response.

We did a conference call late Tuesday afternoon. I called Bruce first. I wondered why all negative references to them on the Mike Albo-written site Adult Stars News.com suddenly disappeared today.

Bruce and Mark called me back. They said they couldn't say much about Albo.

I wanted to know why Bruce and Mark didn't move against Mike a lot earlier. He'd been bagging on them for months.

Bruce: "We'd like to talk to you but we don't want to say anything right now other than, more to come."

Mark: "In the immortal words of Pierre Trudeau (former prime minister of Canada) when he declared marshall law and destroyed his opposition [he did?], and was asked, how far are you prepared to go? He said, watch me!"

Luke: "You guys have been taking a pounding for a long time."

Mark: "I was unaware of it until recently. I guess that was the case."

Bruce: "Once we became aware of this, we started..."

Mark: "To do what was necessary."

Luke: "I was amazed it only happened today."

Bruce: "We weren't aware of it for a significant amount of time because nobody reads Albo's site. It was juvenile prattle."

Mark: "When I went through it, I can't say I was horrified. It was Mark on Gilligan's Island. It was like something that could've been done in seventh or eighth grade."

Luke: "It was going on a camping trip and seeing 'Bruce David is a retard' carved into a tree."

They chuckle.

Bruce: "I didn't see that one."

Mark: "We did what we had to do and we have other things pending."

Luke: "How's everything with Hustler Magazine?"

Bruce: "It's a vast improvement over what the previous editor was doing. It now has material you might want to read after you finish jerking off. It has a lot more journalism and I hope it is a lot more entertaining and a lot more fun.

"The magazine my predecessor did was boring and predictable, everything from art direction to editorial content. There were two articles in every issue. Now we have five or six."

Mark: "The reason you are going to have a lot more journalism in the book is because Bruce is at the helm now."

Bruce: "Mark is my lieutenant. He has extensive contacts in the journalist community."

Luke: "Mark, why did you come on board as features editor?"

Mark: "Because the opportunity to work with my friend Bruce David was not something I wanted to pass up. He's got Greg Palast in the book now. He's got interviews with Chris Hitchens. Hustler is going back to its journalistic roots when it had a certain cachet."

Former Hustler features editor David Buchbinder, last I knew, was reporting from Afghanistan for such outlets as the Christian Science Monitor.

Luke: "What are some stories we can look for in forthcoming issues of Hustler?"

Mark: "We have an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author David K. Johnston. Also, an expose of the last year of Wu-Tang Clan [hip hop group that reshaped the genre]. Their last album is due out this year."

Bruce: "We're adding a lot of fun sex stuff. We have an artist named Gourd who ties women to cars. That will be a photo feature in an upcoming issue. The whole idea is to surprise and entertain and engage the reader."

Luke: "Any reaction in newsstand sales yet?"

Bruce: "When my predecessor was running things, sales were sinking. They were sinking so rapidly that Larry felt he had to terminate him. Now sales have levelled off and we're seeing an uptick. It took a while but you have to signal people that things have changed. The previous editor poisoned the well. It took a while to signal the readers to come back."

I remember a false report in the New York Post about six months ago that Bruce was going to be fired from Hustler.

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XXXScribe writes:

Dearest Duke:

I read, with a bitter chuckle, your item regarding Bruce David's efforts to dictate the contents of AdultStarsNews. How odd and pathetic that Hustler, a magazine that ceaselessly touts itself as a beacon for Free Speech, should be helmed by a clown with such jackboot leanings.

I further notice that the October 2004 Hustler, currently on the stands, deems Disney CEO Michael Eisner Asshole of the Month for attempting to quash Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. This commentary is further bolstered by a parody cartoon on the same subject. I wonder how it is that Mr. David is able to delude himself into believing that his tactics are are substantially different from Eisner's. Certainly, Bruce is a far cry from spring chickendom at this point, but presumably he at has at least a couple of years before full-bore senility kicks in.

Your interview with David and Mark Cromer was equally guffaw-worthy, particularly Cromer's macho bluster about destroying one's enemies and puffery about his vast journalistic experience. If Cromer is such a tough guy with such solid credentials, one has to wonder why he continually needs to hitch his star to whatever soon-to-fail wagon Bruce is commandeering. Rather than an uptick in sales, once can only anticipate that Hustler will soon go the way of Jail Babes, Brown Sugar and other David-led, Cromer-abetted flops. Cromer should lay off the chest-thumping and stick to his primary task: namely, keeping his facial hair neatly trimmed so that Mr. David's rectum doesn't get too scratched up.

But, back to the original matter. A protest is being organized, to take place sometime next week in front of the Flynt Building at Wilshire and La Cienega, in order to voice public outrage over Mr. David's hypocritical thuggery. Anyone who is concerned about the current state of Free Speech in America is strongly encouraged to attend. Further details to come, as the specifics are firmed up.

Take care for now, Duke.

10/4/04

Hustler's Bruce David Declares War On KPFK Host Aura Bogado

Bruce writes:

We at Hustler can accept being rejected by certain elements of the progressive community. Sure, we are disappointed; we would like as much support as possible for the positions we are taking in print, especially since these progressive views have cost us at least some loss of readership. (You are right to point to the survival of our democracy and the survival of the planet itself as the real issues.) But, as Rick Nelson said, "You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself." We are pleased to have presented the views of Dr. Helen Caldicott, Janine Jackson (FAIR), Greg Palast, Karl Grossman (nukes in space), Howard Lyman (mad cow disease), George Monbiot, Peter Coyote, Carol Picou (Gulf War illness), Craig Unger, Christian Parenti, David Cay Johnston and others to the very people who most need to be reached.

What we will not abide, however, is being called rapists and being accused of fostering assaults on women and children, even by implication. People like Aura Bogado make these accusations so freely because the voices of reason remain silent in the face of such nonsense. Hustler's editors will not remain silent when attacked in this fashion. You can all expect to see a rather forceful series of responses in print, starting with Hustler's February issue. This, of course, will distract us from our attacks on Bush, Cheney, et. al., but then, that's of no concern to Bogado, is it?

Jamie Lee, organizer, L.A. Not In Our Name, writes:

Mr. Cromer, You do not have my permission to post or publish the e-mail I just sent to you nor do you have the permission of Los Angeles Not In Our Name to print, publish or post on any site any of the e-mails that you have received with regard to this issue. Please immediately remove all e-mails that you received from and through LA NION from the larryflynt.com website.

Hustler features editor Mark Cromer replies:

To the contrary, we have every right to engage in this debate and to do so as others have, via new media postings. Not only are we personally subjects of this debate, but Aura Bogado has made this anything but a 'private' discussion. To that end, we intend to continue posting these emails and viewpoints on our associated websites and you can be sure we will be covering this debate in upcoming issues of Hustler magazine. It appears you are uncomfortable with public scrutiny. Given your stated positions, that's understandable.

Part One–FLYNT TOUCHES OFF PROGRESSIVE RANGE WAR

Anthony writes on Nina.com:

It's a stark reminder of how some liberals really still don't get it about defending the full agenda of sexual liberty..and how deep the MacDworkinite/Jensen antiporn mentality runs amongst far too many progressives these days. (Not that the responses by Hustler editors Bruce David and Mark Cromer weren't as caustic and problematic as the original anti-Flynt blasts were, but the exchange does not bode too well for Pacifica Radio's commitments to free speech and genuine progressive principles...especially when it comes to sex.)

10/22/04

Scott Fayner says: "Then Allan [MacDonnell] got fired. Bruce [David] took over. I like Bruce but Allan pushed me a lot. I'd hand him in stuff and I'd have to redo it. With Bruce, not as much."

Hustler Fires Features Editor Mark Cromer

10/31/04: LFP sources allege a sexual impropriety. Behavior unbecoming a pornographer.

Bruce David, Hustler Editor, replies 11/2/04 to my email of inquiry: "He resigned. I would like to tell you the whole story but company policy prohibits that. You can talk to Cromer if you like but his version of events is likely to be inaccurate. I don't really think he knows what happened even though he, no doubt, believes he does. It was with deep regret that I felt compelled to accept his resignation. For me, it's not just the end of a professional relationship but the end of a friendship as well."

A Statement From Mark Cromer's Lawyer

Los Angeles, CA November 3, 2004

Statement by Nancy Gray, Esq. on behalf of Mark Cromer
re: termination of employment at Hustler.

We are very disappointed in the comments made by Hustler’s Editorial Director, Bruce David, concerning Mark Cromer’s departure from Hustler. Our goal is to set the record straight and resolve our differences with Mark’s employer, LFP Inc.

Mark was working on a book when he was entreatied by Bruce David to return to Southern California to become Features Editor for Hustler in July of 2004. On November 1, Hustler sources reported that Mark was fired as a result of misconduct. Hustler now claims that Mark resigned.

Neither of these claims is true. Mark was the victim of false and malicious rumors while he was at Hustler. Ironically, Mark’s boss, Bruce David, was the person responsible for spreading this gossip in the first place, in violation of Company policy.

Mark was threatened, personally and professionally, and was then retaliated against after he reported the problem to Human Resources. This kind of corporate behavior violates California law, violates the rights of Mark as an employee, and Hustler is responsible for the conduct of management and its employees. We intend to discuss Mark’s departure with his employer in the hope of resolving this matter amicably.

Trevor, a porn source who knows both men, writes: "Bruce David has tanked Hustler sales...while bloating the budget. Circulation's down about 100,000 copies. I would bet cash that Cromer's version is going to be more accurate than Bruce David's."

War Declared On Hustler Editor Bruce David

Tiger Lilly writes 1/5/05:

Greetings. This is to announce that Hustler's 'Declaration of War' has been answered.

We are a group of women and men, both presently and formerly employed by Larry Flynt Publications, who can no longer tolerate the sick and violent direction that Bruce David has driven the magazine.

As Editorial Director of Larry Flynt Publications and Hustler magazine's self-styled resident tough guy, Bruce David used the February 2004 issue (apparently still on stands) to eviscerate a group of feminist critics of porn's violent edge. As Editorial Director, it is Bruce David who guides the magazine's direction, and he brags openly that he writes Larry Flynt's 'Publisher's Statement' in each issue since, according to Bruce David, "Liz Flynt keeps Larry too loaded on Lithium to write his own name."

Targeting Aura Bogado and Diana Russell in particular, Bruce David ordered a three-page pictorial of women tied to the bumpers of trucks and being dragged behind farm equipment. This is not surprising, as Bruce David's tenure at Hustler has been marked by an extreme fascination with violence against women in particular, which explains its plummeting circulation and loss of newsstands across the nation. A magazine that once celebrated women sexually in a healthy manner has been handed over to Bruce David, who feels women being dragged behind tractors with tools shoved into their mouths is "hot."

As alarming as his penchant for supporting the brutalization of women is, it pales compared to Bruce David's sick use of children in the magazine. Bruce David featured his own pre-teen boys in a Hustler Ad parody in the 2003 Holiday issue. This creep put his own children in a magazine that is loaded with pedophile-friendly ads that boast "My Parents Aren't Home, Give It To Me Quick" and "Is This Where You Put It?" and others that pander to freaks into children. Bruce David has vowed more children will be depicted in the magazine.

Consequently, we are providing Aura Bogado, Diana Russell and a cadre of young, motivated and highly sophisticated women with a full dossier on Bruce David, including pertinent background information, current data, photos and other relevant material.

Additionally, a public awareness and education campaign is being planned for residents in Bruce David's...neighborhood, who need to protect their own children.

Bruce David has declared war, and it is war that he shall have. His tough guy swagger may play well in the pages of Hustler, at home with his terrified family and among the Flynt employees who cower in the face of his thug bullying, but lets see how it plays in the face of public scrutiny.

This is just the beginning.

It is all for The Front! All for Victory!

Mark Cromer writes me March 27, 2005:

Following an extensive court hearing, an administrative law judge has rejected the false claim of Bruce David and LFP that I resigned as Features Editor of Hustler. Judge Stephen B. Chan ruled that "[My] separation did not result from any willful or wanton breach of an important duty or obligation owed [LFP]. Rather, [my] employment ended due to [LFP's] invalid acceptance of [a] purported resignation."

I am hopeful that after losing this first round in court, LFP will now resolve the matter amicably. If not, I am prepared to pursue further remedies.

7/20/05

Inside info on LFP/Hustler

I sent this letter Wednesday night to Hustler magazine Editor Bruce David, Caroline Sinclair, and various sources at LFP as well as former employees of LFP. To the best of my knowledge, the substance of the below is accurate.

The Hustler Tattler writes:

Dear Luke:

I read with great interest Mark Cromer's interview with you. As someone who works at LFP currently, I would have to dispute his statement about Carolyn Sinclair being a "young and talented contributor" prior to her ascent to Features Editor.

Prior to assuming Cromer's position, Carolyn worked delivering Dominoes Pizzas in Ireland. Hardly a seasoned journalist by any stretch of the imagination, she contributed a few weak freelance articles to Hustler which were published because of Bruce David's insistence (Tim Keneally and Dan Kapelovitz opposed publishing her, with good reason) and his affection for a girl nearly 40 years his junior. There were several more qualified candidates for the features position, such as Ed Rampel, but Bruce isn't trying to get into Ed's pants.

Ironically, Carolyn Sinclair had dated Mark Cromer prior to stealing his job (she had also gone out with Ed Rampel for a short time). The dimunitive, flat-chested, deep-voiced, bowl-haircut brunette once bragged that she learned how to manipulate men from her days working as a waitress as at strip bar in Texas. Speaking of Texas, she has a shakey history at best, including time in a mental hospital.

As someone who sees her on a daily basis, I cannot tell you how insufferable she has become since becoming Features Editor. The 20-something know-it-all loves to lecture co-workers, especially those who are older than she is. We are routinely told how much better Europe is, how much better Europeans are, and how "having a career is wrong." Mother Superior gives this all-knowing lecture with a straight face as she smugly sits in her office (living out her career) in Beverly Hills.

Now married, she also spends a good deal of company time advising others on relationships, a frightening prospect indeed, as her own love life is rife with failed trans-atlantic trips to meet European loser-lotharios and abortions. Do we really need HER advice to fuck up our lives?

But she gives Bruce David what he demands, loyalty to the point of disregarding reality. Completely rewriting history, she actually stated recently that the mass firings at LFP that Mark Cromer described never took place. You might wonder where exactly she was when the firings took place? Spain, so there. She should know, not Cromer, who was at LFP.

She also has done Bruce's bidding in asking about LFP employees and trying to gather info. Fortunately, the staff was highly suspicious of her from day one. Copy Editor Valerie Valdez even quit because of the absurd appointment of Sinclair to Features Editor. She knew it was a sham as we all did.

However, as loyal as Carolyn appears to be, there are cracks in the armor as she has been seen with some enemies of Bruce and has been heard chatting about him. His fetish for bondage is a sore spot for her, pardon the pun. She was sickened by the Jan. 2005 issue that had pictures of women tied to cars, courtesy of performance artist Gord.

Mark Cromer responds:

I never "dated" Carolyn Sinclair, but I did indeed hang out with her pleasantly--and platonically--on a few occasions, including dinner one night on the patio at Cat & Fiddle and an afternoon jaunt through the LA County Fair in my home town of Pomona. I actually met Carolyn, as irony would have it, in Bruce David's backyard during a party he threw for Greg Palast in late 2003.

The irony is that Hustler Features Editor Dan Kapelovitz was also at that party. A few months later, Bruce fired Kapelovitz during a mass of retalitory terminations designed to wipeout what remained of Allan MacDonnell's old crew and anyone else who Bruce thought might be sympathetic to them. He then brought me in as Features Editor. A few months later, Bruce fired me after I filed a complaint against him with Human Resources. He then tapped Carolyn Sinclair to be Features Editor of Hustler.

So there we all were, three generations of Hustler Features Editors partying in Bruce's backyard. Now if he fires Carolyn and hires his pool boy, the circle will be complete.

But no, I never romantically dated Carolyn and I indeed stand by my assessment that she shows strong promise as a young writer honing her chops. As such, it was not pleasant to learn from a variety of credible sources that she--at Bruce David's encouragement--has disparaged me to other writers. It's poor form. A cheap shot apparently undertaken to impress her boss, not to mention an illegal act evidently sanctioned by Bruce and LFP. But we'll be sorting that out soon enough.

Also, I don't believe that Hustler Copy Editor Valerie Valdez's departure had anything to do with Carolyn Sinclair. I believe Val was leaving before Carolyn ever got there, so I don't think that is accurate.

As far as the comments about Carolyn being a "diminutive, flat-chested, deep-voiced, bowl-cut brunette," I completely disagree. I would describe her rather as a lithe chick with a Suzanne Pleshette voice radiating an occasional high-voltage wit that makes her very attractive. Which is why I enjoyed her company. But hey, like art and obscenity, it's all in the eye of the beholder.

If Carolyn actually has claimed that the mass firings that I described in my interview with you last month never took place, I can only assume that she is following some Maoist-like script issued from the Dear Leader on the Third Floor. I almost hope its true because it is such a lovely Orwellian touch, devoid of any troubling semblance of reality. I would love to know how she would explain the emails that I gave you--and you published in the interview--or perhaps she might suggest those incidents never really happened either, even though Bruce was commenting about them? Well, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The assertion that Carolyn is opposed to the style of photo "art" that Bruce is fond of running, such as the Gord pieces depicting women being dragged behind trailers and tied like dried venison on the front of pickup trucks. That is true, as Carolyn and I discussed it over dinner and I recall telling her how I had made the case against running the set-to which Bruce responded by increasing the size of the layout.

I remember Carolyn pointedly noted "What the hell is he thinking?"

Now there's a question.

I hear from LFP employees that they are getting satirical emails almost daily (probably from ex-LFP employees).