On October 20, Penthouse magazine founder Bob Guccione succumbed to lung cancer at a suburban Dallas hospital. The 79-year-old entrepreneur shook up both magazine publishing and Hollywood. Like many people, he also enjoyed video games.
Founded in the mid-1960s, Penthouse would go on to become one of the most controversial (and widely read) adult magazines in America. Guccione challenged morals by pushing the envelope with increasingly explicit photos, and he did it with style and in soft focus.
At its peak, Penthouse gave Playboy a run for its money and turned Guccione into one of the richest men in America. His money was spent on fine art and one of the biggest private residences in Manhattan. He dabbled in film by investing in Roman Polanski's Chinatown and spearheaded the X-rated epic Caligula. He also enjoyed video games.
According to a 2004 piece in Rolling Stone, Guccione never went out much. Occasionally, his wife would drag him to a country mansion in upstate New York. According to Joe Brooks, Penthouse's Art Director, "He'd go for the weekend, sit around, watch TV, play video games, cook, get in the limo and drive back."
During the late 1970s and through the 1980s, bad investments in things like a Penthouse hotel and a nuclear reactor (a nuclear reactor!!) as well as $US45 million in back taxes and increasingly sluggish magazine sales took their toll.
"People said it was pornography," Guccione said about the magazine's early days, "and I argued with them. I said, 'What's pornography?' Censorship is pornography. Repression is pornography. I wasn't just a businessman rationalising his business. I was a believer!"
The Twilight of Bob Guccione | Rolling Stone Culture [Rolling Stone]