Bob Guccione, the founder of the very popular men’s magazine, PENTHOUSE, has died. He was 79 and had been battling cancer in recent years. Founded in 1965 in England, PENTHOUSE positioned itself as revolutionary among mainstream men’s magazines because of more explicit pictorials of beautiful women than competitors such as PLAYBOY. And, PENTHOUSE aimed for more sensationalist journalism as well than PLAYBOY. At one point, PENTHOUSE had hoped to overtake PLAYBOY in sales, but the aftermath of the controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decision on obscenity created rocky times for the entire adult entertainment industry, where many retailers removed magazines such as PENTHOUSE from sale at stores. As late as 1998, two store clerks in Oklahoma were arrested for selling PENTHOUSE, although the magazine is considered to be constitutionally protected free speech in most parts of the U.S.
Guccione actually had many other magazines and business interests beyond PENTHOUSE, however some of those ventures such as a casino business badly failed and sapped the PENTHOUSE empire of much of it’s wealth. Further, the growth of harder content magazines, videos and free Internet porn only further eroded the PENTHOUSE empire even more. Guccione, eventually sold the magazine which was famous for it’s soft focus crotch shots, and reportedly, the content softened up under the new ownership, getting away from some of the more graphic trends of the magazine in the late years under Guccione.
Guccione’s son was set up as the manager of music and other special interest magazines at one point, but the financial problems since the failed casino venture only continued to haunt the family business.
Strangely, Guccione considered becoming a Catholic priest at one point. However, life carried him in a whole different direction, where at one point, where he was one of the most wealthy men in the world at one time. Who would have ever guessed that there’s big money to be made taking pictures of breathtaking women? Guccione himself, often photographed the women. Some guys sure have to work hard to make a buck, huh?