Friday Reads: Hold Fast: The Unadulterated Story of the World’s Most Scandalous Website by Trevor Aaronson, Sam Eifling, and Michael Mooney

Hold Fast is the uncompromising story of, the world’s most scandalous website, and the rise and fall of alternative weekly newspapers nationwide.

Over four decades, Michael Lacey and his business partner James Larkin built the largest, most influential company in alternative media—a colossal chain of muckraking newspapers that included The Village Voice, LA Weekly, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Miami New Times, and others. These alternative newspapers published writers who were fierce investigators, stylish storytellers, and astute cultural critics. These papers also published loads and loads of ads, including page after page of so-called “adult ads”—ambiguously written ads that appeared to offer illegal sexual services, but were nonetheless protected by the First Amendment.

As lucrative classified ads moved to the internet, cutting a hole in the money bag of newspapers everywhere, Lacey and Larkin founded, a classifieds website that would become synonymous with sex ads and scandal. The Justice Department alleges that Lacey and Larkin weren’t just newspapermen. They were, prosecutors say, the biggest pimps in the history of the world.

Reported, written, and hosted by three writers who once worked for Lacey’s newspaper chain—Trevor Aaronson, Sam Eifling, and Michael Mooney—Hold Fast is a romp through the weird history and boundary-pushing culture of alternative newspapers; the controversies surrounding and the government investigations; and fraught frontiers of free speech in America.


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