Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, he came from a middle class family. Although he had big dreams of becoming a world famous painter, Guccione managed to paint the pornographic world instead with the introduction of Penthouse Magazine. The irony of Guccione’s success was that he created the magazine as an income stream to support himself while becoming a painter, but the demands of the magazine business soon began to occupy all of Guccione’s time. Due to lack of money he had to wear many hats including that of photographer, cartoonist, sales rep and editor. A voyeur at heart, it was his unique voyeuristic approach to photography that made Penthouse so popular. The girls rarely posed for pictures, but instead where photographed as if they were unaware of the camera. THE BUYING PUBLIC LOVED IT.
His net worth soon ballooned to 500 million and with this small fortune he continued to finance other ventures. Other magazines like Omni, Longevity and Viva were soon launched. He also financed Hollywood films with his most infamous project being “Caligula”. He made plans to open a Penthouse Casino in Atlantic City, but that project was doomed because he was never able to secure a license from the gaming commission. A true man of enterprise, he was unfazed by this failure and instead looked to the future. He personally financed the creation of the world’s first nuclear-fusion reactor. If that project would have succeeded, it would’ve made him the richest man in the world. However, it too failed.
Guccione’s blind ambition may have indirectly led to his financial downfall. He was totally invested in Penthouse and while this was great when the money was rolling in, when sales began to dip in the more conservative 1980’s, this affected his ability to fund these other outside projects. No matter-Penthouse still exists along with Playboy and Hustler as the triumvirate of pornographic magazines.