Bob Guccione was the founder, editor, and routine contributor to Penthouse magazine, a major rival to Playboy magazine. When I once told my friends that Bob Guccione is my favorite author, I received disapproving looks. My best friend Stacey pulled me aside and said, “Jill, you can’t say that, stupid.
“You seem like a decent person, though, so let me confide in you. In the 1960s and 1970s, Guccione’s Penthouse magazine pushed the envelope on what is acceptable in Britain, the US, and beyond. He did this not just in pornography but also in other forms of literature.
It is this boldness in challenging cultural norms and Guccione’s impact on pop culture that make him incredibly intriguing.There are numerous examples of Guccione challenging cultural norms. The first is the bush wars between Playboy magazine and Penthouse magazine, not to be confused with the Bush wars. Penthouse magazine became the first US “men’s” magazine to show pubic hair alongside articles about sexuality. Guccione did this despite the advice of lawyers, and it accelerated changes in Western culture, pushing Western culture from being quite prudish by today’s standards to being much more highly sexualized.However, Guccione’s literary impact is even more significant. Alongside Guccione’s own work, Penthouse published lesser known authors at the time, and gave them a launch pad to stardom.
For example, in March 1977, Penthouse was the first to publish Stephen King’s short story “Children of the Corn.” It also helped re-launch the career of Anne Rice, author of ‘Interview with a Vampire’, as a mainstream author, publishing parts of her erotic novel ‘Beauty’s Punishment’ in 1984.Guccione’s leadership also saw Penthouse magazine earn awards for its investigative reporting.
In 1975, Brandeis University honored the magazine for bringing attention to critical cultural issues, such as the welfare of Vietnam veterans and criminality in society. The reputation and earnings power of Penthouse magazine also allowed Guccione to expand into producing other magazines like Omni, a science magazine first published in 1979. Omni magazine was a pioneer of cutting-edge science at the time and served as inspiration for many of today’s tech magnates.Bob Guccione may not be your favorite author, but he’s certainly intriguing. His willingness to challenge what’s acceptable in society have had a major impact on our lives. It may be hard to swallow, but there’s a lot that business school students could learn from Guccione as a writer, businessman, and cultural influencer.