Penthouse (magazine)


Penthouse (magazine)
Penthouse Magazine

The first U.S. issue of Penthouse, September 1969
Chief Executive officer Marc H. Bell[1]
Categories Men's
Frequency Monthly
Publisher FriendFinder Networks
Total circulation
(2011)
137,744[2]
First issue 1965
Company Penthouse
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Website www.penthousemagazine.com
ISSN 0090-2020

Penthouse, a men's magazine founded by Bob Guccione, combines urban lifestyle articles and softcore pornographic pictorials that, in the 1990s, evolved into hardcore. Penthouse is owned by FriendFinder Network. formerly known as General Media, Inc. whose parent company was Penthouse International Inc. prior to chapter 11 restructuring. Although Guccione was American, the magazine was founded in 1965 in the United Kingdom, but beginning in September 1969 was sold in the United States as well. At the height of his success, Guccione, who died in 2010, was considered to be one of the richest men in the United States. He was once listed in the Forbes 400 ranking of wealthiest people (982[3]). An April 2002 New York Times article reported Guccione as saying that Penthouse grossed $3.5 billion to $4 billion over the 30-year life of the company, with net income of almost half a billion dollars.[4]

Contents

Innovations

For many years, Penthouse fell between Playboy and Hustler in its explicitness and general attitude toward sexual depictions, with Playboy being visually softer and less focused on female genitals and with Hustler going for a raunchier look and content often consisting of toilet humor. Almost from the start, Penthouse pictorials showed female genitalia and pubic hair when this was considered by many to be obscene.

Up until 1973, the depiction of female genitalia offered fuzzy portrayals of the pudenda, without the inner labia parted, after which sharper views of the vulva were shown.

Simulated sex, but not penetration or male genitalia, followed; then, several years later, male genitalia, including erections, could be seen. In addition, Penthouse attempted to maintain some level of reading content, although usually of a more sexually oriented nature than Playboy.

During the 1970s and 80's and into the early 90's Penthouse was often regarded as the main rival against Playboy in terms of circulation and popularity. (There were a few times during the 70's and 80's where Penthouse was even ahead of Playboy for subscriptions and sales.)

Move from softcore to hardcore pictorials and back

In 1998 Penthouse decided to change its format and began featuring sexually explicit pictures (i.e., actual oral, vaginal, and anal penetration), beginning with photos from the famed Stolen Honeymoon sex tape featuring Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. It also began to regularly feature pictorials of female models urinating, which, until then, had been considered a defining limit of illegal obscenity as distinguished from legal pornography.

A different approach to restoring sales was attempted by the UK version of the magazine in 1997. Under the editorship of Tom Hilditch, the magazine was rebranded as PH.UK and relaunched as middle-shelf "adult magazine for grown-ups". Fashion photographers (such as Corinne Day of The Face magazine) were hired to produce images that merged sex and fashion. The magazine's editorial content included celebrity interviews and tackled issues of sexual politics. The experiment attracted a great deal of press interest but failed to generate a significant increase in sales. PH.UK closed in late 1998.

The new owners (see below) significantly softened the content of the magazine starting with the January 2005 issue. Penthouse no longer showed male genitalia, real or simulated male-female sex, or any form of explicit hardcore content. (It does still feature female-female simulated sex, at least on occasion.) While this change allowed the return of a limited number of mainstream advertisers to the magazine, it has not significantly raised the number of subscribers; total circulation is still below 350,000.[5] (Many insiders feel that the softening of content may have hurt the magazine.[citation needed])

Financial history

In an effort to raise cash and to reduce debt, Penthouse sold its portfolio of several automotive magazine titles in 1999 for $33 million cash to Peterson Automotive, the national automotive-publishing group. While these titles were successful, it is widely reported that the science and health magazines Omni and Longevity cost Penthouse almost $100 million, contributing to its eventual financial troubles.

Bankruptcy

On August 12, 2003, General Media, the parent company of the magazine, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Immediately upon filing, Cerberus Capital Management entered into a $5 million debtor-in-possession credit line with General Media to provide General Media working capital.[6][7] In October 2003, it was announced that Penthouse magazine was being put up for sale as part of a deal with its creditors. On November 13, 2004, Guccione resigned as Chairman and CEO of Penthouse International, the parent of General Media at the request of U.K. Royal Family.

Penthouse Mobile and Penthouse HDTV for cell phones

Since January 2003, Penthouse International has been working with FCC, DISA and various agencies as well as several academic universities to offer Penthouse HDTV on cell phones using regular the United States TV broadcaster and Internet Service Providers.[citation needed]

Controversies

Lawsuit over La Costa Resort & Spa article

In March, 1975, Penthouse published an article headlined "La Costa: The Hundred-Million-Dollar Resort with Criminal Clientele," written by Jeff Gerth and Lowell Bergman. The article indicated that the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California was developed by Mervyn Adelson and Irwin Molasky using loans from the Teamsters Pension Fund and that the resort was a playground for organized crime figures. The owners, along with two officials of the resort, Morris B. Moe Dalitz and Allard Roen, filed a libel lawsuit for $522 million against the magazine and the writers. In 1982, a jury absolved the magazine of any liability against the lawsuit from the owners. The plaintiffs appealed, but in December 1985, before a new trial could begin, the two sides settled. Penthouse issued a statement that they did not mean to imply that Adelson and Molaskey are or were members of organized crime. In turn the plaintiffs issued a statement lauding Penthouse publisher Guccione and his magazine for their "personal and professional awards." Total litigation costs were estimated to exceed $20 million.[8][9]

Traci Lords and Vanessa Williams

The September 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine would eventually become controversial because of its centerfold, Traci Lords. Lords posed nude for this issue at the beginning of her career as an adult film star. It was later revealed that Lords was underage throughout most of her career in pornography and was only 15 when she posed for Penthouse.

The same issue also caused controversy with nude pictures of Vanessa Williams that caused her to be stripped of her Miss America crown.

International versions

As of October 2010

  • Australian edition
  • Bulgarian edition (discontinued)
  • Dutch edition
  • German edition
  • Greek edition
  • Hungarian edition
  • New Zealand edition
  • Portuguese edition[10]
  • Russian Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Thai edition
  • United Kingdom edition

Auto Racing

A Hesketh 308E in 1977's Penthouse Rizla Racing livery.

Penthouse sponsors the 1X car of driver Randy Hannagan in the World of Outlaws sprint car series. Much controversy from fans has surrounded the sponsorship with many claiming to outright boycott any event Hannagan is entered in[citation needed]. The sports sanction body, DIRT Motorsport however will not prevent Penthouse from their sponsorship role. There is a section of Penthouse's official site that can only be accessed through a link on Hannagan's website and when accessed offers a special discount for a one year subscription to the publication.

The magazine previously sponsored cars in the Formula One circuit from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Teams included Hesketh Racing and RAM.

3D HD Porn Channel

January 2011, Penthouse announced the first 3D HD Porn Channel which will be available in second quarter 2011. They shoot using dual lenses, and it will be complement of available Penthouse HD Channel lineup covering over 30 platforms in more than 15 countries.[11]

See also

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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