10 Things You Didn't Know About Penthouse

You've heard of Penthouse. For some of us, it was our first foray into the world of forbidden nudity. For the older generations, Penthouse was a source of frustration and disgust. Founded in 1969 as an attempt to compete with Playboy, the magazine offered more sexually explicit content alongside sensationalized editorials, defining (and crossing) the lines of obscenity. When it was introduced in the U.K., Penthouse sold 160,000 copies in five days and still remains a porn giant all over the world. Here are some things you may not have known about the magazine. 

1. Their founder was kind of a prude 

Believe it or not, Bob Guccione left seminary school to start his famous smutty magazine — but he was always kind of a priest at heart. While Hugh Hefner was busy throwing wild parties at the Playboy Mansion, Guccione's lifestyle was notoriously quiet. He reportedly once had his bodyguards eject a local DJ for jumping into his pool naked. 

2. Penthouse Started The Pubic Wars

In February 1970, Penthouse published a profile shot of Ada Grootenboer—against the advice of everyone’s lawyers—which presented a subtle, but unobstructed view of pubic hair, becoming the first major U.S. men’s magazine bold enough to bare the bush. This would be the start of what would become known as the “The Pubic Wars.”

3. They discovered unknown authors 

Penthouse Variations was the first magazine to publish an “unknown” erotica writer named A.N. Roquelaure — a.k.a Anne Rice — running an excerpt from the now-classic BDSM book Beauty’s Punishment in March 1984.

4. In fact, they’ve gotten ahold of some pretty famous authors, too

Stephen King’s short story “Children of the Corn” was first published in Penthouse in March 1977. That guy’s doing pretty well nowadays, right?

5. They also published some legendary artists

The late, legendary artist H.R. Giger of Aliens fame was featured in Penthouse with his drawings of—what else—hardcore penetration. 

6. They dominated the celebrity game early on

The first Penthouse celebrity cover was Donna Summer in July 1979—plus they were the first and only magazine to publish nudes of Madonna. You know…back when people still wanted to see Madonna naked.

7. They produced a movie written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author

The infamously pornographic Caligula, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Gore Vidal, was produced by Pentouse founder Bob Guccione. The X-rated movie stars Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, and Helen Mirren, and was hailed as "sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash" by Roger Ebert. 

8. They’ve never feared controversy 

Penthouse was the first magazine to publish the Unabomber Manifesto by legendary nutcase, Ted Kaczynski. Studies show most readers found the psychotic scribblings very hard to masturbate to. 

9. They pushed the nudity envelope…a lot

In March of 1970, Penthouse showed the first glimpse of a nipple on the cover. Scandalous. The following November in 1971, they shot the first pictorial/cover of a Penthouse Pet wearing thigh-high stockings. Yowza. Then, in December 1971, they presented the first bare ass on a magazine cover. Boi-oi-oi-oing.

10. They sure do love their black holes

Penthouse is the first and only magazine to hold a wager over black holes. Theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne, won a one-year subscription to Penthouse when he bet Stephen Hawking that black holes existed. Turns out they exist and Thorne got a year’s worth of smut.

No one will ever forget their first porn magazine. Jeremy Glass' was a Penthouse from around 1998. It was epic.

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