Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse Magazine and the man whose spectacular flop Caligula introduced hetero movie audiences to fisting, has died at the age of 79.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930, Guccione started Penthouse in the mid-1960s. By the 1980s, he had created a $300 million media business and Penthouse had a circulation of 4.7 million, according to the New York Times. Marc Bell, chief executive officer of FriendFinder Networks Inc., which now publishes Penthouse and runs adult websites, called the death “very sad” in an e-mailed statement. The company plans to release a statement today, he said. Penthouse’s first issue hit newsstands in the U.K. in 1965 and went on sale in the U.S. in 1969, according to Biography.com. The magazine challenged the popularity of Playboy, a men’s magazine that had gained widespread following, by featuring photos and content that were intended to be more explicit and provocative.
Back in one of my writing classes in college, students held an unauthorized Penthouse Forum contest. All entries were required to contain the rote phrases “much to my surprise” and “needless to say,” which appeared in almost all every issue. Much to my surprise, when I opened the door there stood two buxom blond twins! Needless to say, I invited them in. I recall arguing for the inclusion of the equally overused “endless gobs of ropey cum,” but I was denied.
I still miss Guccione’s excellent science/sci-fi title, Omni Magazine.