ACES 2012 | New Orleans

What it’s like to edit at Hustler magazine

NOTE: This post contains explicit language.

When Eric Althoff answered a Craigslist ad for a copy editor for a publication with adult content, he had no idea that he’d soon work for one of the most famous (or infamous) magazines in America: Hustler.

But that’s exactly what Althoff did for four years, editing copy for the pornographic magazine and doing some reporting for it as well. He met porn stars, rock stars and publisher Larry Flynt. Althoff shared his experiences at a session at the ACES conference titled “Even Porn Needs Style.”

In some ways, Althoff said, working at Hustler was like working at any other magazine, dealing with page layouts and production deadlines. Larry Flynt Publications had what he called a “conservative corporate environment.”

The content of Hustler, of course, is hardly conservative. The copy that Althoff worked with contained what he called “the saucy language and colorful terms” of porn that also popped up often during the session.

“Images of a salacious nature have always included words,” he said. Those words may appear in headlines, captions and story text. That’s why, he said, porn needs editing like anything else.

Hustler’s stylebook is similar to others, Althoff said, offering guidance to writers and editors at the magazine on word choice for its readers. Among those at Hustler:

— blow job vs. blowjob
— porno vs. porn
— phone-sex vs. phone sex
— girl next door vs. girl-next-door
— cover babe vs. coverbabe

In each of these examples, Hustler prefers the latter usage. On occasion, the magazine would update its stylebook. For example, it now uses “hos” rather than “ho’s.”

Indeed, Hustler will bend its style rules on occasion. Althoff said that the magazine prefers “come” as a verb and “cum” as a noun in references to ejaculation. But on the magazine’s cover, it would allow “cum” in either situation to get the attention of potential buyers. “‘Cum’ is going to jump out at consumers,” he said.

Althoff stressed the need for porn editors who edit such content to keep a distance between their professional work and their personal lives. He did that, he said, but after four years, he had had enough of Hustler for personal and professional reasons.

Althoff went into consulting work for a Web company and then to Brides magazine. He’s now freelancing and said that potential employers always ask about his Hustler experience.

Regardless of the type of content, Althoff said, it’s important for editors to keep in mind how language evolves. “The English language is very elastic,” Althoff said. “Change it if you need to.”

— Contributed by Andy Bechtel

5 comments on What it’s like to edit at Hustler magazine

  1. Eric Althoff
    April 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm (979 days ago)

    Fantastic writeup Andy! So glad you were there to capture it all. Cheers! :)

  2. Anna Ngo
    April 14, 2012 at 9:40 am (978 days ago)

    Eric!

    I, too, was a copy editor at Hustler from 1998 to 2000! You stayed four years? You poor, poor thing. I remember the cum versus come thing! I still think about it to this day, actually, as people always type “cum” to me (yes, I get a lot of obscene IMs), and I have never seen come used that way ever again since leaving Hustler. I have often said that Hustler (or, rather, LFP) held me to the highest editorial standard I’ve ever had in my career, and that remains true to this day.

    Is Philip Sanguinet still there? I wouldn’t be surprised if he was.

    • Eric Althoff
      April 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm (977 days ago)

      Anna,

      Thanks for your note. Yes, I made it one complete Olympic cycle, which was about one year too many–one of *many* reasons I finally left. Of course PS, my former boss (and yours), is still there–he’s a lifer like many other characters who aren’t going anywhere whom I’m sure we both worked with (and for). Phil will die at his desk, as will Morgen and certain others.

      Thanks for the kind words. You should join us at ACES next year in St. Louis!

      Cheers,
      EFA

      Eric!

      Is Philip Sanguinet still there? I wouldn’t be surprised if he was.

      • Anna Ngo
        April 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm (977 days ago)

        Hi Eric,

        I got that sense about him even back then, as I knew that LFP was the first and only place he’d worked.

        The friend of mine who sent me this post had an interesting idea I’d like to bounce off you, if you want to take this conversation offline.

        You can e-mail me at anna.ngo@gmail.com. Plus, it would be fun to “reminisnce.” ;-)

        • Anna Ngo
          April 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm (977 days ago)

          Er, reminisce. I am a decent copy editor, I swear! Just not a very good typist. :-/