Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Penthouse R. I. P.

Guest post by Baloo.

I never could sell a cartoon to Penthouse.  Or Playboy, for that matter.  I did sell to Hustler, and to a great many other 'girly' magazines, as they're called in the cartooning trade.  Oh, as a gagwriter, I wrote a lot of cartoons for other cartoonists who sold them to the first two, but my 'cute' style never really fit into the two big girly magazines.  I've actually sold quite a few such gags to Playboy, almost all as gags for the great Doug Sneyd to draw up.  And I also sold a few to Penthouse, mostly drawn up by George Dole. But, I guess my heart was never in it all that much.  I do very few "adult" cartoons, and the one here is about as x-rated as they get, i. e., not very.  If you want to see them, though, I have a few HERE and HERE. I think my all-time biggest market for such cartoons was Easyriders.  But now, Penthouse is gone, alas.  Or maybe not so alas.  Kathy Shaidle writes:

Playboy With Pubes

When Penthouse went bankrupt last week, the overwhelming reaction was, “Penthouse was still around?”

For those too young to remember, Penthouse was part of the unholy trinity of mainstream porn magazines of the 1960s and 70s. In the liquor cabinet of lust, Playboy aspired to be the Single Malt Scotch, and Hustler was most definitely a can of Coors. Penthouse was a rosé: Like that alcoholic afterthought, it was soft focus, pastel—some Sammy Glick’s idea of “classy.”

The magazine’s founder, Bob Guccione, was one such striver, a failed painter whose early ambitions, fortunately, were focused on pussy rather than Poland. Penthouse arrived on American newsstands in 1969, sixteen years after Playboy, and mimicked its popular predecessor’s “tasteful” nude spreads as well as its pretensions to serious journalism and its espousal of liberal causes.

Penthouse was the first to cross the Pubicon, though, daring to leave fuzzy vulvas unretouched, thereby risking obscenity charges. When none materialized, Playboy entered the muff race, and the “Pubic Wars”—as Hugh Hefner dubbed them—were on. (And this being the hirsute seventies, boy, were they ever.)

But all the short and curlies in the world couldn’t help Penthouse overtake Playboy’s long head start and ingenious branding. Turning Guccione into a celebrity icon—with his trademark tight leather pants and gold medallion (barely) peeking out from beneath jungles of chest hair—succeeded merely in making the gauche, twitchy Hefner look like a veritable Cary Grant.

In pre-Internet America, though, Playboy‘s sloppy seconds still totaled tens of millions in revenue, and Guccione, as one friend put it, “went directly to the last act of Citizen Kane.”

In the introduction to Guccione’s unpublished autobiography, we’re informed that he’s not just one of the richest men in America, he owns the largest private home in New York City and an enviable art collection:

His other enterprises include real estate, television, motion pictures, hi-tech cattle breeding with a herd of 5,000 premium cattle, a fleet of block-long, ocean-going tugboats on long-term leases, and a company which manufactures powdered milk for third world countries.

Two spectacularly bad investments sucked up most of Guccione’s fortune: a “still-born” Atlantic City casino and a “cold fusion” venture. Perhaps the same scientists behind the latter had a hand in Guccione’s infamous Caligula, too—a movie that brings together Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren naked, yet somehow throws off the erotic charge of a Three Stooges short.  (Read the rest HERE.)

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