Skip to main content

Bob Guccione Has Died

As a Catholic feminist it might raise some eyebrows to say the following, but, like St Augustine, I was not always thus; there were days of stolen pears, so to speak, in my youth.  So, let me briefly say, that, apart from my father, and my Uncle Jack, and perhaps Oscar Wilde, Pierre Trudeau and Alistair MacLean, I can think of no man more influential to me before the age of 14 than Bob Guccione (not even Hugh Hefner).  It was - no longer I imagine - a boyhood rite of passage in Canada, in the 1970s and 1980s, to steal and swap copies of one's Dad's Penthouse magazines, and, frankly, to enjoy them.

Guccione's aesthetic had a great impact on my teen imaginary - he had wanted to be an artist, and had a strange overlush taste, and photographed his nudes both provocatively, but, in the early days, with a respect that placed the solitary women in picturesque settings - the Penthouse sublime involving pearls, and nylons, and peacock feathers, and wrought iron beds, and big pillows.  It was, of course, pornography - which has its faults that needn't be discussed here (that's a longer conversation and one worth having).  For, despite and because of what it was (I knew it when I saw it) I was drawn to Guccione's vision of a decadent world of voluptuous available women.  Guccione's magazine became increasingly shocking, trying to compete with Hustler's outright misogyny, and some of its experiments with iconography and iconoclastic imagery (Nazi lesbians, for instance) were taboos too far.  Guccione's own life was tragi-comic.

He had many kids and wives, and lived, at one point, in the biggest house in Manhattan, a multimillionaire and (in America at least) a household, notorious, name.  Penthouse was synonymous with middle-class evil - it penetrated our lives excitingly but we knew it was wrong.  The Internet killed that, as did some other business dealings, and Guccione died a failed artist, basically penniless, of a dreadful cancer - but, it should be added, at almost 80 years of age.  He was, if not an artist, a key public bohemian of his age - an aesthete of questionable taste, but an aesthete nonetheless.  I briefly worked for his company, GMI, some thirteen years ago, and though in his offices once in New York, didn't meet him.  Apparently he kept to himself.  The limousines, the swings, the antebellum outfits, the bad puns - "any pet in a storm" - the infamous Letters - Penthouse was the Stones to Playboy's Beatles.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…