Penthouse Magazine: A History
by Lisa James
The Birth of Penthouse Magazine
In 1965, Penthouse Magazine started its colorful history in the world of media communications. Sensing that the sexual desire of man is a good marketing niche, Bob Guccione founded the Penthouse Magazine in London, United Kingdom. Bob Guccione or Robert Charles Joseph Edward Sabatini Guccione by birth was born on December 17, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York.
The sexually explicit contents of the magazine paved its way to the common households and stayed on top with its rival, Playboy Magazine in terms of sales and popularity. Four years later, Bob Guccione expanded the operations of Penthouse Magazine to the United States.
Bob Guccione together with Kathy Keeton and some family members managed the privately owned company over the years. With the rise of Penthouse magazine, Bob Guccione also rose to fame and was known for his lavish lifestyle and spending including the Penthouse Mansion in Manhattan, gold chains, dream of building a portable nuclear device and casino without a gambling license. The empire that started from Penthouse Magazine was earning Bob Guccione a fortune.
With the kind of business the Penthouse Magazine is in, attacks and condemnation from several groups were to be expected. The National Federation for Decency, a Christian conservative group now known as American Family Association, threatened to boycott stores that carry adult materials. In 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese and an 11 member Commission on Pornography also sought to publish a blacklist of pornography distributors. About 20,000 retailers and convenience stores withdrew support to the magazine after the campaign, causing a decline in sales.
In 1992, an issue between Penthouse Magazine and United States Navy surfaced. The United States Navy reacted negatively on the issues of Penthouse Magazine being circulated and distributed around the military base. Distribution and sale of Penthouse Magazine, a magazine explicitly pornographic in nature, is said to be inconsistent with the rules and regulations concerning sexual harassment and human dignity.
The Military Honor and Decency Act signed by President Clinton in 1996 stated that the Secretary of Defense may not permit the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on property under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department. Also, a 1998 Supreme Court ruling held that a military base is not a public forum. Bob Guccione lost the battle.
Videocassettes gaining popularity and the steady rise of Internet users are some reasons that caused the steady decline of Penthouse Magazine circulation and other pornographic magazines like Playboy Magazine and Hustler Magazine. The Internet provided a cheaper and multiple avenues of satisfying the desire of a man. Also, a different level of satisfaction is achieved watching the glossy pictures come to life. Bob Guccione finally announced in April 2002 that Penthouse Magazine was going out of business.
Bankruptcy of Penthouse Magazine
On July 2003, Bob Guccione lost his famous Penthouse Mansion. The Penthouse mansion was composed of two townhouses built in 1879. Rebuilt in 1920s by Jeremiah Milbank, it was one of the largest private residences in Manhattan. At the height of prestige, Bob Guccione bought the mansion in 1975. On August 12, 2003, General Media, asubsidiary of Penthouse Magazine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was thought that this move would help salvage the magazine.
Penthouse Magazine in Recent Times
In October 2003, announcement of the sale of Penthouse Magazine circulated. Later in 2004 General Media was renamed the Penthouse Media Group by owners Marc Bell a real-state developer and founder of the Globix corporation and Daniel Staton, an investor with diverse portfolio. Penthouse Magazine was repackaged.
Starting with the January 2005 issue, Penthouse Magazine no longer showed female genitalia, simulated sex scenes, or male genitalia. The change improved the declining sales but was still way below the original sales numbers of Penthouse Magazine during the heyday of the magazine.
In 2005, Penthouse Media Group had a total circulation of 326, 358 copies. Penthouse Magazine continues to increase sales as it works to become a competitor of the adult entertainment genre.
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