Penthouse can regain the ground between lads’ mags and men’s lifestyle monthlies, according to the new editor of its relaunched UK edition. Stuart Messham said the title, now owned by Trojan Publishing, would be returning to its 60s roots, but would remain adamantly top-shelf material.
‘It’s not wall-to-wall grot – you can get that on the internet – and it’s not a men’s lifestyle title. It’s not exploiting or objectifying women but offering a sophisticated take on sexuality.’But he added: ‘There is still full frontal nudity, it is still top shelf; it’s for men fed up with lads’ mags and the pretentious men’s lifestyle titles.’The title’s turbulent history saw it most recently change hands from Q Media to Trojan, which has been on a shopping spree since its establishment last June. It bought Erotic Review, food title Fresh and men’s mag Ice magazine – where Messham was deputy editor. Messham said Penthouse would strive to recapture a Britishness typified in its early years when it was first launched by American Bob Guccione in the UK in 1965, and featured cover stars such as Twiggy.
The relaunched issue will include interviews with Howard Marks and Germaine Greer as well as its lifestyle features and nude photoshoots. The title will have an initial print run of 50,000, and will be priced £4. 75.
Messham dismissed the online proliferation of porn – which has seen the top shelf’s popularity crash – as a threat to Penthouse because they were chasing different audiences.
He described what is left on newsstands as ‘photos of women in bad trainers with their legs behind their heads”. He added: ‘Penthouse is still topical, relevant and collectable, it’s not a flash in the pan porn mag”.
Messham admitted that a stigma may be attached to the brand. ‘This is a magazine for blokes reaching for the top shelf. Why should a man of 35-45 be reading the same material as 16-18 year olds? Why should there be a stigma attached to reaching for the top shelf? Penthouse wants to break that down – it’s not like you’re picking up Readers’ Wives, Penthouse is a iconoclastic title.”