In the vibrant landscape of men's magazines, Penthouse emerged as a provocative contender in 1965, shaking up the UK scene before taking on North America in 1969. Crafted from the ambition of Bob Guccione, it was positioned as a daring rival to Hugh Hefner's Playboy, pushing boundaries with a blend of sensational editorial content and hard-hitting investigative journalism—digging into government cover-ups and scandalous revelations.
From its modest inception, Penthouse was a product of Guccione's personal touch, his own lens capturing the early models due to budget constraints. A self-taught visionary, he infused his photographic technique with his painting acumen, cultivating a signature aesthetic of ethereal, soft-focus imagery that would become synonymous with the Penthouse brand. His dedication to the craft was such that he would spend days perfecting a single photoshoot.
Penthouse boldly redefined the visuals of men's publications, pioneering the explicitness of its pictorials. It was the trailblazer in presenting female pubic hair, escalating to full-frontal displays and eventually, unabashed images of vulva and anus. The magazine didn't shy away from celebrity intrigue either, featuring both sanctioned and unsanctioned photographs of stars such as Madonna and Vanessa Williams—images that only gained infamy after the subjects had risen to fame.
As the years progressed, Penthouse ventured into more niche territories, showcasing content that catered to various "fetish" interests, from urination and bondage to "facials," charting a new, albeit controversial, course in the chronicles of adult entertainment.