Skip to main content
Select Source:

penthouse

penthouse subsidiary structure attached to the wall of a main building, esp. one with a sloping roof. XIV. ME. pentis, rarely pendis — AN. *pentis, aphetic of OF. apentis, apendis — med. use of late L. appendicium appendage, f. L. appendere hang on, attach in a dependent state, f. AP- + pendere hang; refash. (late XIV) by assoc. with HOUSE, as if ‘sloping house’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"penthouse." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"penthouse." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse-1

"penthouse." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

penthouse

pent·house / ˈpentˌhous/ • n. 1. an apartment on the top floor of a tall building, typically luxuriously fitted and offering fine views. ∎  a structure on the roof of a building housing machinery or equipment. 2. archaic an outhouse or shelter built onto the side of a building, having a sloping roof.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"penthouse." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"penthouse." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse-0

"penthouse." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

penthouse

penthousedouse, dowse, Gauss, grouse, house, Klaus, louse, Manaus, mouse, nous, Rouse, souse, spouse, Strauss •Windaus • madhouse • cathouse •Gasthaus • guardhouse • farmhouse •glasshouse • bathhouse • almshouse •penthouse • guesthouse • warehouse •playhouse •bakehouse, steakhouse •alehouse, jailhouse •gatehouse, statehouse •treehouse • wheelhouse • greenhouse •clearing house • meeting house •counting house • ice house •lighthouse, White House •doghouse • dollhouse •chophouse, flophouse •dosshouse •hothouse, pothouse •poorhouse, storehouse, whorehouse •courthouse • malthouse • Bauhaus •town house • outhouse • coach house •roadhouse • smokehouse • boathouse •oast house • schoolhouse •Wodehouse • cookhouse • clubhouse •nuthouse • beerhouse • powerhouse •summerhouse • barrelhouse •porterhouse, slaughterhouse, Waterhouse •workhouse • lobscouse • woodlouse •field mouse • titmouse • dormouse

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"penthouse." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"penthouse." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse

"penthouse." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/penthouse

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Penthouse

Penthouse ★★★ Crooks in Clover 1933

Baxter is a corporation lawyer who, for a change of pace, defends a gangland boss (Pendleton). His success loses him his high-society clientele but wins him Pendleton's respect and protection. But Baxter then gets involved in a further series of gang-related crimes, which nearly cost him his life. Also aiding Baxter is Loy, playing a smart-cookie gun moll, who would take her wisecracks to “The Thin Man” the following year. Good combo of melodrama, suspense, and humor. 90m/B Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Nat Pendleton, C. Henry Gordon, Mae Clarke, Charles Butterworth, Phillips Holmes; D: Woodbridge S. Van Dyke.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Penthouse." VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Penthouse." VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/penthouse-0

"Penthouse." VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/penthouse-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Penthouse

Penthouse

Penthouse is a monthly men's magazine primarily devoted to printing sexually explicit photos of women. Among American mainstream pornographic magazines, Penthouse is one of the first, largest, and most enduring and has had a lasting effect on the American sexual and pop cultural landscape.

Penthouse was launched in 1965 by Robert "Bob" Guccione as a more risqué alternative to Hugh Hefner's "girl next door"-style mainstream Playboy. Guccione, an American expatriate living in England at that time, had trained himself as an artist and painter while living in various European cities during the 1950s and early 1960s (Heidenry 1997). Using his knowledge of lighting and borrowing compositions from Degas (Colapinto 2004), he photographed the first issue himself.

After experiencing great success in England, Guccione launched Penthouse in the United States in 1969. The most obvious difference from Playboy was that in April 1970 it became the first commercial magazine to show pubic hair, whereas Playboy, taking a hit in the so-called Pubic Wars, still airbrushed models' genitals. Penthouse remained more explicit by being the first to show "split-beaver" shots and male erections and by popularizing "girl-on-girl" pictorials. Guccione also constructed the dynamic of the viewer-model relationship in a different way. He instructed his models not to smile or even look at the camera: "We followed the true philosophy of voyeurism" (Colapinto 2004, p. 61).

The editorial style was edgier, leaning toward controversial investigative journalism rather than essays and commentary. The features were also more sexual (Heidenry 1997)—for example, "Penthouse Forum," an allegedly unexpurgated section of readers' actual sexual experiences, and "Call Me Madam," former madam Xaviera Hollander's racy sex advice column.

The two other magazines commonly compared to Penthouse in terms of content are Screw and Hustler, both of which generally are considered much more explicit and, according to some, vulgar.

The relationship of Penthouse to feminism is multi-faceted. It often was singled out by 1970s and 1980s feminists as an example of the objectification of women. A 1984 issue featuring bound Asian women particularly upset antipornography activists. However, Penthouse was "one of [all of] publishing's most female-friendly shops" (Colapinto 2004, p. 62). Regular writers included porn reviewer Susie Bright (1987–1989), who went on to become a figurehead of the "sex-positive" feminism movement of the 1980s. The staff also included some first-rate businesswomen, including Dawn Steel, who later became head of Paramount Pictures, and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, who worked on the Penthouse spin-off Viva, a softcore sex, art, and fashion magazine for women.

Penthouse has been the center of several scandals over the years, most notably the 1984 Vanessa Williams scandal, in which Penthouse published third-party erotic photographs of the reigning Miss America, and the 1986 Traci Lords scandal, in which the Penthouse model subsequently was discovered to be underage. Penthouse also produced the 1980 film Caligula, a star-studded flop that Guccione promoted as the first sexually explicit first-run mainstream film in history.

In the 1980s circulation began to decline with the end of the sexual revolution—the rise of AIDS, the aging of the baby boomers, and a shift to conservative politics in particular—as well as the availability of VCR filmic pornography (Colapinto 2004). In the 1990s it fell even farther, pressured by cable and pay-per-view competition, followed by the rise of the Internet. Penthouse responded by becoming much edgier, adding depictions of acts such as vaginal fisting (penetration of the vagina with a hand and/or arm), cum shots (external male ejaculation), and urine play.

In 2003 Penthouse declared bankruptcy. The next year it was bought by external investors who stated their intention to soften the sexual nature of the magazine and reposition it as a competitor to "lad" magazines such as Maxim. As of 2006 the ownership, control, and style of the magazine were still in flux.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Colapinto, John. 2004. "The Twilight of Bob Guccione." Rolling Stone 945: 58-67.

Heidenry, John. 1997. What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Talese, Gay. 1980. Thy Neighbor's Wife. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

                                              Jennifer Lyon Bell

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Penthouse." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Penthouse." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/penthouse

"Penthouse." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/penthouse

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Penthouse

Penthouse

Penthouse, "the international magazine for men," became a household name along with its number one competitor, Playboy, during the 1960s and 1970s era of "free love" and sexual revolution. Following the 1953 debut of Hugh Hefner's erotic magazine, Bob Guccione rightly sensed that men might prefer to see a bit "more flesh" than was being offered by Playboy. In 1965, Guccione launched the London-based Penthouse, with slightly racier pictorials as well as investigative stories.

In 1969, the magazine was moved to the United States, where it expanded into a publishing dynasty that included Forum (1975), Penthouse Letters (1981), and several non-erotic ventures, such as Omni, a consumer science magazine (1978), Compute (1979), and Longevity (1989). Although Penthouse (a subsidiary of General Media Publishing) continued to grow and diversify over the next three decades, the company remained privately owned by Guccione and his companion, Kathy Keeton, whose operation was something of a Mom-and-Pop arrangement, staffed by several members of Guccione's family. Working from the nine-story mansion he shared with Keeton on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Guccione became known for his gold chains and lavish lifestyle.

Guccione's enterprise was anything but smooth sailing during the 1980s. Throughout the Reagan era, Penthouse was ravaged by attacks from Christian right-wing conservative groups such as the National Federation for Decency. One of the more damaging campaigns came in 1986 when Attorney General Edwin Meese and an 11-member Commission on Pornography sought to intimidate retailers by publishing a blacklist of pornography distributors. Sending its warning on Justice Department stationary, the Commission advised several large booksellers and retail chains that they would be named. Bowing to the pressure, Southland Corporation, parent company of 7-11 convenience stores, announced that it would no longer sell either Penthouse or Playboy in its 4,500 outlets. By the end of the campaign, some 20,000 retail and convenience stores had been dissuaded from carrying the adult titles.

Penthouse retaliated, along with Playboy and the American Booksellers Association, by filing a suit against the Commission, charging it with violating the First Amendment. Although a Federal District Court eventually forced the Commission to retract its letter, it denied the plaintiffs financial relief; in a strange footnote, Edwin Meese was later reported to have said that he did not consider either Playboy or Penthouse to be obscene.

Penthouse's constant legal battles throughout the 1980s and 1990s cost it millions of dollars in annual litigation fees, but the magazine had another, more threatening problem: videocassette distributors, who now boasted that some ten percent of their sales were in the category of erotica. "People are simply reading less," noted Guccione. "They're into other media."

Overall, Penthouse witnessed a steady decline in circulation and never recovered its 1979 high of 4.7 million. By 1987, the numbers had fallen to 3 million; by 1995, circulation was just over the one million mark. That same year, the magazine actually lost money for the first time in its history. Playboy's numbers were also steadily declining, but remained slightly higher than those of Penthouse.

To recoup profits, Guccione's team experimented with a range of strategies, including a cover story on celibacy as "the new hot lifestyle." It also launched headlong into three new ventures in the 1980s, including Spin, a music magazine to be run by Bob Guccione, Jr., New Look, which survived less than six months, and the unexpected Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Technology, which targeted defense industry personnel.

Never one to back down from a First Amendment challenge, Penthouse found itself under siege yet again in 1990; this time, by the American Family Association, a Christian group which planned to picket 400 Waldenbooks and K-Mart stores for carrying Penthouse and Playboy. In response to the threat, Ed Morrow, President of the American Booksellers Association, and Harry Hoffman, President and CEO of Walden, took out advertisement space in 28 daily papers, in which readers were asked to respond by "voting" for freedom of expression. The campaign was a success: over 50,000 Americans returned ballots in support of First Amendment rights within the first seven days of the appearance of the advertisements. In contrast, less than 100 picketers showed up for the American Family Association's planned protests.

In 1992, Penthouse faced yet another challenge from the United States Navy, which found the distribution and sale of adult magazines on naval bases to be inconsistent with rules and regulations concerning sexual harassment and human dignity. Guccione responded rhetorically, asking, "How do you put a man in uniform, teach him to kill, expose him to images of war and all sorts of inhumanity and in the same breath tell him he is not sanctioned to buy a magazine that shows people making love?" This, however, was a battle that Penthouse would lose. In 1996, President Clinton signed The Military Honor and Decency Act, stating that "the Secretary of Defense may not permit the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on property under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department." Although Guccione won an appeal, citing the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the decision was overturned in a 1998 Supreme Court ruling which held that a military base is not a public forum.

So as not to be left behind in the technological race, Penthouse went on-line in 1995, and quickly became one of the 25 most frequently-visited web sites. The magazine also found something of a new niche in the early 1990s with unauthorized celebrity sex photos. During this period, it won court battles to publish explicit materials of Tonya Harding (sold to the magazine by ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly), Paula Jones (also obtained from a former boyfriend), and Pamela Lee Anderson and her husband Tommy Lee.

In 1995, Penthouse received additional publicity from an unlikely source when the Unabomber named the magazine as his third choice—after The New York Times and The Washington Post —for publication of a manuscript advocating an anti-technology revolution. Guccione offered the terrorist—who was linked to 16 bombings since 1978—an unedited monthly column in return for his agreement not to strike again; the offer was nullified, of course, by the Unabomber's subsequent capture.

Peter Bloch, Penthouse editor since 1983, once claimed that Guccione's publication, unlike Playboy, had never been ashamed to portray explicit sexuality in its pages. Indeed, Penthouse broke barriers, said Bloch, by being "the first to show full frontal nudity." In 1997, the magazine ventured a step further into carnality, announcing that it would no longer shy away from depicting copulation. It remains to be seen, of course, what the anti-pornography forces will make of this.

—Kristal Brent Zook

Further Reading:

Flora, Paul. Penthouse. New York, Abrams, 1978.

Reese, Diane. "Penthouse: When Sex Doesn't Sell." Folio. January 1987.

The Wonderful World of Penthouse Sex: Radical Sex in the Establishment. New York, Penthouse Press, 1975.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Penthouse." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Penthouse." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/penthouse

"Penthouse." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/penthouse

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.