Deep Threat: Bob Guccione Makes Himself a Target
Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives. July 26, 1973, Vol. XVIII, No. 30
Deep Threat by Lucian K. Truscott IV
Penthouse magazine, in the person of editor Bob Guccione, is out to challenge the recent Supreme Court decision on obscenity. "We are making ourselves a target," said Guccione last week at a press conference. "There will be a lot of sheriffs waiting out there in the hinterlands to show me who's the boss."
Does that mean, Guccione was asked, that the magazine plans to continue publishing full frontal nudity?
"We intend to continue to do what we've been doing," said Guccione, who was attired in white patent leather boots, brown leather bell-bottoms, a brown lace shirt open to the waist, white leather jacket, several necklaces, two large gold rings, and a gold watch. "And if the definition of that is pushing back the boundaries of permissiveness, then that's the way it's going to be."
Guccione cast a defiant look at the tv cameras, and with a slightly curled lip -- in the manner of Elvis Presley - proceeded to outline the Penthous Five Point Plan:
"We're gonna give full legal support to every news agent prosecuted for sale of Penthouse magazine, no matter where he is, no matter how small he is.
"We'll set up an agency to mail magazine and books to harassed areas on a cost plus mailing basis. And if that means somebody in Nebraska can't get a copy of Playboy and they write us, well he'll get one, that's all.
"We're gonna have a student army that will hopefully be sufficiently motivated to go into harassed areas with petitions and questionnaires, so when a guy comes up for trial out there we can say this is in fact the community standards.
"Penthouse is establishing its own lobbyist in Washington.
"And finally, we will continue funding our own investigation to discover and prove that the clean-up of the press along with Watergate is in fact a part of a giant conspiracy, which Nixon may now appear to be at the head of, but will eventually be shown to be a mere pawn."
Asked just what he meant by the "giant conspiracy," Guccione explained: "There have been the assassinations and attempts to change the first, third, and 14th and 22nd amendments, so Nixon can run again. But I don't think Nixon is strong enough or smart enough to wield the kind of power which appears to be afoot in this country."
Guccione was asked for an example of what the Penthouse conspiracy investigation has unearthed. "Well, just one thing we've uncovered is the fact that in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot a certain individual was picked up by the police because he was in the wrong place at exactly the right time and was questioned for many hours, and it turns out this individual was one of the original Watergate seven. All of this type of information is being collated through our own files. What kind of money are we willing to spend on this? Whatever it takes."
Guccione, who appeared to be surrounded by a small army of secretaries and assistants, went on to posit his theories on the "giant conspiracy." When you want to control the press, he explained, you go at its weakest point. Hitler did the same thing when he eliminated "smut" in Germany in the '30s.
Does this mean, Guccione was asked, that he sees no difference between publishing nudity, and printing facts on Watergate?
"None whatsoever," he replied. "What is at stake here is that Americans can no longer select what they want to read or view. Somebody else is going to do the selecting for you. A government which couldn't control liquor, can't control drugs, and refuses to control guns now wants to control literature."
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
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