Reports that Penthouse boss Bob Guccione may throw in the towel and literally stop the presses at his venerable strokebook are alarming: Can it be that glossy print pornography is headed for oblivion, like "burlesk" and 8-page dirty comics? Guccione claims his year-old publication is millions of bucks in the hole and selling only , copies each month -- down from a high of 5 million back in the good old days of print onanism. He recently told the New York Times that "there is no future for magazines such as Penthouse. Call me sentimental, but I'm gonna miss Penthouse. Not that I buy it anymore.
What Penthouse taught us
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Pornography used to mean Playboy or Penthouse or another of the hundreds of glossy magazines kept on high shelves and purchased furtively. In the not too distant past, Playboy and Penthouse each sold five million or more copies a month, and were so much a part of the culture that in a federal judge ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of Playboy violated their First Amendment rights. But traditional pornographic magazines have been hit hard, falling victim to boundless quantities of nudity online and rapidly declining print sales. Last summer, Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler, acknowledged that the print version of his magazine was not going to be around much longer.
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Hustler is a monthly pornographic magazine published by Larry Flynt in the United States. Introduced in , it was a step forward from the Hustler Newsletter , originally conceived as cheap advertising for his strip club businesses at the time. The magazine grew from a shaky start to a peak circulation of around 3 million; it has since dropped to approximately , It shows explicit views of the female genitalia, becoming one of the first major US-based magazines to do so, in contrast with relatively modest publications like Playboy. Today, Hustler is still considered more explicit and more self-consciously lowbrow than such well-known competitors as Playboy and Penthouse.