Penthouse magazine founder and pornographer Bob Guccione has died, but The Washington Post seems to think "pornography" is too ugly a word to apply to a man who aimed to be explicitly sordid. From the beginning, as T. Rees Shapiro wrote, he aspired to offend:
Penthouse's first issue was numbered, not dated, because Mr. Guccione, an American expatriate, was not sure how the British public would receive his magazine. But to ensure success, he sent graphic promotional materials to the clergy and every member of parliament.
The ensuing uproar landed Mr. Guccione on the front page of every English newspaper, and Penthouse's first printing sold out in two days.
From those controversial roots, Mr. Guccione, who died of lung cancer Oct. 20 at age 79 at a hospital in Plano, Tex., built a worldwide erotic empire.