Flynt's Sexy Gifts Closes in Fla. After Zoning Kerfuffle
NAPLES, Fla. — Jimmy Flynt's six-month's-old store in North Naples, Fla., Flynt's Sexy Gifts, quietly closed last week after a judge sided with its corporate landlord, which sued to evict the boutique.
Flynt, when reached for comment Thursday, called the closing of the store the result of a "perfect storm."
"The county was after me, the landlord was after me and the lawyers eat you up," Flynt told XBIZ. "Everybody thinks that just because you have the Flynt name, that you have Larry's money."
Flynt's Sexy Gifts, which opened in May, had a rough start from the get-go.
Collier County officials told him right off the bat that Flynt's Sexy Gifts was a sexually oriented business and wasn't permitted to operate at its strip mall location.
But Flynt jumped into the kerfuffle and told county officials that the business wasn't the average, garden-variety sex toys and novelty shop, emphasizing that the shop was purely a "classy boutique" that just sold lingerie, shoes, oils and marital health-and-wellness devices.
Flynt also told officials that the ordinance was outdated and antiquated and that the county should amend it or scrap it altogether.
Flynt's business, however, kept getting inspected by zoning officials who disagreed with his contention over what was sold, finding the store noncompliant with the county's sexually explicit business location ordinance during six inspections.
Flynt this past summer even got some local support in an editorial from the Naples Daily News, which said that it is skeptical over the contention made by county officials that the shop is just as sexually explicit as a strip club.
"Good grief," the paper said. "Is this store really worth all the fuss. Is the store causing crime, diseases, urban blight and decreased property values .... Is there anything in the store that is not available at stores with adult, sexually oriented merchandise — some of the stores are nationally known chains — elsewhere in the city of Naples and Collier County. "
Flynt remained defiant with local zoning officials over the inspections, telling XBIZ prior to one visit that "they are going to come in here doing the Nazi walk pointing out what's offensive, and they are going to ask me to remove certain merchandise. Well, I won't."
Collier County' s Sexually Oriented Business Location and Regulation Ordinance was placed into law in 1991 after the then-local chapter of Morality in Media wanted to prevent a gentlemen's club from opening up in Naples. The ordinance outlaws videos, novelties and books that include depictions of genitalia, buttocks and nipples. And, no more 25 percent of its inventory can be sexually oriented.
During the inspection process by zoning officials, Flynt's landlord, commercial real estate owner Hovland Inc., sued to evict him after receiving threats from the county of $1,000 daily fines, as well as misdemeanor prosecution.
A judge finally agreed with Hovland Inc., and the Naples store closed up shop on Oct. 31.
Flynt told XBIZ on Thursday that he's determined to open up another outlet of Flynt's Sexy Gifts shortly in the nearby community.
Flynt's Sexy Gifts continues to operate online, with brick-and-mortar stores in Cincinnati and Florence, Ky.
In related news, Larry Flynt and LFP Inc. dropped litigation efforts last week against Jimmy Flynt over the use of "Flynt" in the title Flynt's Sexy Gifts.
Larry Flynt and LFP Inc. had filed a federal suit against Jimmy Flynt over allegations of trademark infringement. The suit was seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction, unspecified damages — including treble and punitive damages — and attorneys fees.
Jimmy Flynt, according to the now-dismissed suit, traded off on the "goodwill, fame and secondary meaning associated with the famous 'Flynt' marks."
Jimmy Flynt said that he wasn't clear why his brother dropped the suit, and Larry Flynt, through his spokesman, declined comment over the suit's dismissal but did offer an explanation.
Larry Flynt voluntarily dismissed the case in Florida without prejudice, the spokesman said, because Jimmy Flynt had in fact vacated the Naples location following the eviction and represented through his counsel that did “not intend to open another retail store” or “ do business anywhere in the state of Florida” all prior to his deadline to respond to the lawsuit.
However, earlier this week Larry Flynt initiated contempt proceedings against Jimmy af federal court in Ohio arising out Jimmy Flynt's alleged violation of the federal court’s injunction barring Jimmy Flynt from using any of the trademarks owned by Larry Flynt, the spokesman said.
Specifically, Larry Flynt is asking the court to hold Jimmy Flynt in contempt for his use of the website FlyntSexyGifts.com to market adult products and his retail locations and by prominently marketing his store in Florence, Ky., as Flynt Sexy Gifts, the spokesman said.
The legal drama between the Flynt brothers had been going on for years, perhaps set off by LFP's termination of Jimmy Flynt in 2009 after his sons, Dustin Flynt and Jimmy II Flynt, decided to compete with LFP in the adult video market under the name Flynt Media Corp.
In 2010, however, a federal judge in Los Angeles granted Larry Flynt's request for permanent injunction against Jimmy Flynt's sons that prohibited them from using "Flynt" without including their full name and prominent disclaimer of any connection to Larry Flynt.
Later, Larry Flynt successfully sued Jimmy Flynt and his Ohio company, Hustler Cincinnati Inc., for trademark infringement.