Our Retro 80s Fourth

Article by Amie Wee and Team Penthouse

Penthouse has been in the minds, mouths and hands of people since its debut on British newsstands in 1965. The first issue sold out in mere days, and the magazine’s quick success led Penthouse founder Bob “The Gooch” Guccione to launch the first U.S. issue in 1969.

Technically we should explain that this opening comes from an article in a recent issue about how Penthouse has shown up in various movies and tv shows over the years. Since the social media promo they put together for the 4th of July this year also has a retro feel, we decided to just put them together for you. Naturally we start with the moving pictures, but when you get on to the ‘80s article, remember that intro. Or not. That’s the beauty of Retro: You do not have to experience it all in a linear fashion as you did the first time around.

Back to the ‘80s

The magazine’s raunchier-than-Playboy full-frontal content, bawdy humor and balls-to-the-wall journalism made its stamp on society and ensured that by the ’70s, Penthouse was on its way to becoming a household name. But by the ‘80s, Penthouse was firmly ingrained in pop culture.

Everyone was talking about Penthouse.

It might have had something to do with The Gooch’s ballsy approach to publishing, and the fact that during the ‘80s, Penthouse printed the unauthorized nudes of Madonna and a reigning Miss America — Vanessa Williams — and featured the likes of Debbie Harry and a controversial shoot with porn star Traci Lords.

As a result, Penthouse was referenced in a lot of movies that came out during the ‘80s.

One of these films was the 1984 fishy fairy tale Splash, an unlikely love story between land dweller Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) and a hot blonde mythical mermaid (Daryl Hannah). In the film, Allen’s cringeworthy brother, Freddie (John Candy), rocks up in his red sports car at the family business with a stack of Penthouse magazines. Freddie brags the mag ran the erotic story he wrote before handing out the issues to his colleagues and customers, who read them right there in public. In another scene, Allen is overwhelmed by a mob of reporters, and Freddie asks, “Is anyone here from Penthouse magazine?” When the reporters say “no,” he responds, “Then we ain’t talkin’.”

Then there’s the 1989 American comedy Troop Beverly Hills, directed by Jeff Kanew, in which a scout troop visits a retirement home to help the elderly in pursuit of a Wilderness Girls patch. The girls offer a resident a few different magazines, which he declines, before they randomly produce a Penthouse, which he gladly accepts and immediately flips open to the topless centerfold before the shot cuts.