The first U.S. issue of Penthouse, September 1969
|Chief Executive officer||Marc H. Bell|
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). 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.
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.
Some of Penthouse's secondary publications, such as Girls of Penthouse, continue to feature occasional images of explicit sex, most of them reused images from the 1990s issues.
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.
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. 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.
Penthouse filed for bankruptcy protection on September 17, 2013. The magazines owner FriendFinder’s current common stock will be wiped out and it will no longer be traded on the open market. In August 2013, FriendFinder’s stock was delisted from Nasdaq because it failed to trade for more than $1.
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.
Traci Lords and Vanessa Williams
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2013)|
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.
As of October 2010
- Australian edition
- Bulgarian edition (discontinued)
- Dutch edition
- German edition
- Greek edition
- Hungarian edition
- New Zealand edition
- Portuguese edition
- Russian Edition
- Spanish edition
- Thai edition
- United Kingdom edition
Penthouse sponsors the 1X car of driver Randy Hannagan in the World of Outlaws sprint car series. 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 consist of available Penthouse HD Channel lineup covering over 30 platforms in more than 15 countries.
- List of Penthouse Pets of the Month
- List of Penthouse Pets of the Year
- List of men's magazines
- Oh, Wicked Wanda!
- Pubic Wars
- GMCI Internet Operations, Inc., Marc H. Bell - Chief Executive Officer, Penthouse Media Group Inc. corporate officers, 2006
- Munk, Nina. "Don't Blink. You'll Miss the 258th-Richest American". The New York Times, September 25, 2005.
- Carr, David. "Cybersmut and Debt Undermine Penthouse". The New York Times, April 8, 2002.
- Latest figures from the Audited Bureau of Circulation
- SEC Filing
- Media Life, August 13, 2003, Guccione files for bankruptcy, Creditors shove pornster up against the wall
- "Penthouse magazine owner files for bankruptcy". LA Times. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Court Revives La Costa Spa's Penthouse Suit http://articles.latimes.com/1985-05-23/local/me-8091_1_la-costa
- Penthouse, Resort End Legal Battle in a Draw http://articles.latimes.com/1985-12-21/local/me-3043_1_la-costa-resort-owners
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Penthouse magazine.|