The super special September issue of VICE was exclusively culled from the archives of Bob Guccione Sr.—the legendary magazine publisher, provocateur, and entrepreneur who built a media empire that started with Penthouse. At its inception in 1965, Penthouse was a magazine like none other that championed the First Amendment to the extreme with dreamy, tastefully shot spreads of nude women and investigative journalism that aimed its sights squarely on the hypocrisy of big government, religion, and all other means of authority. Guccione’s empire soon grew to include dozens of magazines, most notably the now-defunct but soon-to-return science and science-fiction magazine OMNI, and later came to encompass such exotic ventures as investments in an Atlantic City casino and a nuclear-fusion power plant. Unfortunately, these last two projects failed spectacularly—as if Guccione would fail any other way—and he went bankrupt in the early 2000s before dying of cancer in 2010 with hardly a penny to his name.
Recently his legacy was resurrected thanks to entrepreneur Jeremy Frommer, who randomly discovered a portion of Guccione’s archives last year within a lot of storage units he purchased in Arizona. From there, he teamed up with childhood friend and film producer Rick Schwartz to buy the entirety of Guccione's life-spanning archives from the former mogul's bankruptcy liquidators. It was a treasure trove that included thousands of unpublished photos, art, illustrations, and articles in various stages of completion, as well as dozens of Guccione’s paintings. (Before starting Penthouse at age 35, he worked as a struggling oil painter in Europe.)
The Guccione Archives Issue—"guest edited" by Bob Guccione himself—barely scratches the surface of a collection that took VICE's editors months to go through, carefully whittling down a selection that best represented the legacy of a man who was misunderstood by the public at large during his lifetime. The issue harkens back to an era when magazines were published using an entirely analog process, presenting what a mock-up might've looked like halfway through completion.
Want more specifics on how VICE gained access to the archives? Read Claire Evans’s piece here.
No idea who Bob Guccione even was? Read the summary of his unpublished autobiography here for a good overview of what made the man tick.
Want to see some gorgeous illustrations from some of the best sci-fi artists of all time? Yes, you do.
Wondering what a disgruntled employee thought of the Playboy Mansion in the 1980s? Here’s a transcript of an unpublished interview that a scorn butler gave to a Penthouse reporter in the 70s.
Or maybe you're more into the skin?
Unpublished Penthouse Pets
The Gucci Girls, Then and Now
Rejected Penthouse Pets
For even more unpublished archival material, please visit The Guccione Collection website, which is devoted to illuminating all the varied corners of Bob's legacy and creating new content in the spirit of the Guccione empire.