Porn News

Florida Financier Takes Over Penthouse

Boca Raton- Boca Raton financier Marc Bell, a former Internet wunderkind turned real estate investor, has found a new pet project: publishing Penthouse magazine.

His plan is to soft-pedal the now bankrupt Penthouse’s notoriously X-rated content and relaunch it as a young men’s magazine akin to Maxim and FHM.

”We want to realign the magazine and take it to the center,” he said. “It’s got very hard-core and lost a lot of readership because of that.”

Bell, who heads private equity firm Marc Bell Capital Partners, is leading an investment group that has amassed 89 percent of the magazine’s approximately $45 million in bonds.

The group plans to invest up to $50 million to turn around the magazine, whose parent company, General Media of New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last August when it could not meet its bond payments.

Last month, a judge approved Bell’s reorganization plan for General Media, which also owns several Penthouse spin-off magazines and adult-entertainment businesses. They include subscription Internet sites, video and DVD production and distribution, and licensing of the Penthouse brand on products such as gentlemen’s clubs.

”There’s a lot of value there,” Bell said.

Under Bell’s plan, Penthouse’s flamboyant but aging publisher, Robert C. Guccione, would continue as publisher emeritus for the next decade.

Guccione now lives largely as a recluse in an opulent Manhattan town house with a multimillion-dollar art collection. He owns almost all of General Media’s parent company, Penthouse International, which did not file for bankruptcy protection but no longer controls the magazine.

Guccione, 71, founded Penthouse in 1965. To gain an edge over competitor Playboy, his strategy was to make the magazine’s photos and content more hard-core, running increasingly explicit pictorials — sometimes photographed by himself.

Circulation during the magazine’s salad days hit 5.2 million copies, but in recent years with competition from the Internet, porn satellite and cable channels, and the saucy but softer young men’s magazines, it has sputtered badly. Circulation is now about 460,000, Bell said.

Analysts said the investment group faces a huge challenge to whitewash a brand whose image is so entrenched in raunchy nudity.

‘When I say `Playboy,’ what do you think of, even if there’s not one naked picture in it?” said Samir Husni, a University of Mississippi magazine analyst. “It’s going to be an uphill battle to attract a new audience and not lose the existing one. But Penthouse as it is, completely pornographic since December 1998, is not salvageable.”

Playboy, whose circulation is still fairly robust at about 3.2 million, took the opposite track from Penthouse to carve out a niche against today’s 24/7 porn availability. ”It’s more erotic than pornographic,” Husni said.

Advertisers may also have a tough time taking to a new Penthouse simply because of the perception, said Steve Cohen, editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter.

”Penthouse has a very negative image for a lot of people,” he said. “Mainstream advertisers won’t touch them.”

Another option is to focus on leveraging the Penthouse brand through other products, Husni said. ”Print is not the medium of choice for porn anymore,” he added.

In 1989 at the age of 21, Bell founded Internet firm Globix, one of the first Silicon Valley high-tech companies. He now invests in real estate and specializes in buying distressed companies’ debt and turning them around, he said.



Related Posts

Blake Blossom, Skye Blue Headline ‘Lesbian Superstars 3’

Blake Blossom and Skye Blue headline "Lesbian Superstars 3," the newest chapter of the acclaimed series from Lesbian X.

Will Ranscombe of Love Not War to Speak at RSVC

LONDON — Will Ranscombe, CEO of British pleasure brand Love Not War, will speak at the Reimagine Sexuality Virtual Conference this weekend. Taking place Oct. 1, Ranscombe's presentation, titled "Pleasure Should Not Cost The Earth: Sustainability in the SexTech Industry,"…

Eldorado, Exsens Partner for Virtual Training Event

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Eldorado has partnered with Exsens for a virtual private training event on Oct. 4. The hour-long live event will be hosted by Exsens Senior Sales Manager for North and South America Rebecca Pinette-Dorin, and will focus on “the…

Sierra Banxxx Returns to Porn With Elegant Angel Scene

After a 10-year break, Sierra Banxxx is returning to porn with "Sierra Returns," a new scene available now from Elegant Angel.

Emily Willis Speaks About Mainstream Feature Debut ‘Divinity’

LOS ANGELES — The much anticipated new science fiction thriller “Divinity,” co-starring Emily Willis in her mainstream feature debut, will finally premiere in theaters next month. The film, written and directed by Eddie Alcazar and executive produced by acclaimed filmmaker Steven…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.