It's a sad day in the land of magazine pornography, which is already a dying industry. First, Angela Dorian, the 1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year, was charged with the attempted murder
of her boyfriend. Then we heard the news that master pornographer and Penthouse
founder Bob Guccione passed away due to complications of lung cancer.
Guccione's 40-year career began in 1965 in Britain, but really kicked into high gear when the first American issue of Penthouse
appeared in September 1969. His magazine went on to earn a reported $4 billion in its semi-successful attempt to offer a racier version of Uncle Hef's Playboy
In the interim, Guccione married four times, was sued for forcing Penthouse Pets to offer themselves to his business prospects and gambled away hundreds of millions of dollars on art, houses, Atlantic City casinos and, most famously, the 1979 porn-sploitation film "Caligula
," which died a more violent death at the box office than the Roman emperor himself.
Over the decades, however, Penthouse got one thing exactly right: its sexy covers. Not all were perfect (some, sadly, even featured shirtless men), but many are memorable and for all the best reasons: boobs, butts and babes
Keep reading for the10 best covers we dug up from the Penthouse archives.
The magazine was still in its infancy -- but no longer jailbait -- when it featured this lovely model without pants or, apparently, a bra. Hugh Hefner must have been shaking in his bathrobe when he saw this cover. Soon, Playboy would crank it up a notch with its own sexy spreads.
"Oh my, would you look at that? The guy doing my ass makeup forgot to cover this one part of my butt that looks off-white. Well, I guess I'll just stand here in this position until most of the world's men die of a heart attack."
Susan Ryder's Penthouse cover is legendary ... but not necessarily for the right reasons. It's been claimed that her shoot was the first to feature published photos of female pubic hair
, although that arguably started with a 1973 issue. Nonetheless, Ryder's cover is tantalizing, dimly lit, vaguely Native American–themed and altogether hot.
Little-known Pet Dawn Shaw was the cover girl for this one, and it's clear she's been unfairly forgotten by history. Head thrown back, grabbing her boobs, this Penthouse star should have gone on to bigger (not necessarily) better things besides just starring in our late-'70s fantasy sequences.
Here it is, the champion of all Penthouse covers. Starring Vanessa Williams (yes, that Vanessa Williams
) and George Burns
, this issue earned the magazine a reported $14 million and caused Williams to resign her title. (The photos were taken as a test for a photographer friend and were never meant to be seen in public. Shame on Guccione.)
Angela Nicholas, the cover girl here, radiates deadly sex in her Pet of the Month cover appearance. Forget Book of the Month, this is the monthly club we want to belong to.
Penthouse went through a rough period in the early '90s, which featured far too many consecutive covers starring dudes, bands and women with dudes in bands. Luckily, it started the decade on the right track: with stories about Joan Rivers
and Mike Tyson
. No, nevermind all that. Pay attention to the glorious cover model's glorious top falling down. That's what it's supposed
It's shocking to think that it took until the 21st century for Penthouse to realize it didn't always need nudity to sell its issues. (Nor did it need "huge Navy health scandals," snooze you very much.) All it needed was a tied-together top, cut-off jean shorts and a pet of the year playoff. Sign us up for the judging, please!
Shawna Lee and the top 40 sex scenes of all-time (as voted by obviously super-smart and well-versed Penthouse Pets
) made the March '09 Penthouse one of the few we actually remember from the last 10 years. The issue may blame this on Rio, but we blame it on Guccione selling the magazine years earlier and vanishing to Texas. May he rest in peace.