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CEOs Gone Wild: Bob Guccione, Jr.


Ann Coulter's arm candy finds himself between projects.


Bob Guccione Jr. already knows what he wants on his tombstone: "Had a Weakness for Tall Blondes."

At first glance, this might suggest he's just a chip off the old pornographer's block - his father and namesake, Bob Guccione Sr., founded Penthouse, the well-known academic journal.

But the woman the Gooch was thinking of when writing his epitaph was Ann Coulter - the ultraconservative talking head whose tall blondness is more Dolph Lundgren than Claudia Schiffer.
Minyanville's CEOS Gone Wild

Coulter, with her characteristic tact, denies that she was ever "arm candy for Bob Guccione Jr. The Gooch was my arm candy - my boy toy whom I regretfully had to replace with a much younger man."

Guccione Senior's taste, of course, ran rather more to porn stars than pundits.

Gooch Junior, however, is famously more circumspect: After the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue outsold Penthouse, he advised the old man "to put the clothes back on the girls." Not surprising from a son and heir who's modestly said that he "only dated 3 Penthouse models in [his] whole life."

Poor Gooch. Only 3? It's a wonder he's able to drag himself out of bed in the morning.

Perhaps that's why, when Guccione was still at Spin -- the music magazine he founded in 1985 with $2.5 million borrowed from his father -- Axl Rose slammed him in a song for being "pissed of that [his] dad gets more [women] than [him]." Given the fact that the Gooch's first publication was a homemade magazine entitled A Step-by-Step Guide to Kung Fu, this was a mistake: Gooch promptly challenged Rose to a face-to-face battle royale. When Rose declined, Gooch called him "a cowardly dirt man."
After selling Spin in 1997, for $40 million, Gooch launched his next venture, Gear, in 1998. Gear, a men's glossy that attempted to cash in on the lad-mag craze, was described by Guccione as "the most sophisticated of them all." Articles about such topics as the social and technological implications of a suit that electrically stimulated the wearer's genitals more than bore out this claim.

Tragically, despite bringing us pictures of a barely legal Jessica Biel wearing nothing but a thong, Gear folded in 2003. Guccione blamed advertisers' inability to appreciate the magazine's matchless sophistication.

Somehow, in between dating the daughter of Imelda Marcos, Candace Bushnell, and -- at least according to the Gooch himself -- both "Brooke Shields and her mother," he found time to buy and helm Discover. Naysayers who said Guccione was ill-equipped to run a science glossy were, well, right: He found himself ousted by his financial backers in 2007, after less than 2 years at the company.

Despite the fact that Guccione pere and fils had a decade-long falling-out after Gooch the Elder tried (and failed) to take over Spin, the two men's careers are weirdly similar.

Penthouse tried to occupy a market niche between "highbrow" Playboy and the rabble at Hustler; while Gear tried to play middleman between the venerable Esquire and relentlessly laddish titles like Stuff and Maxim.
Of course, Gear folded and Penthouse is no longer in Guccione hands (he resigned in 2004). And Gooch Junior's botched Discover venture resembles nothing so much as the old man's OMNI magazine. The latter, "an original if not controversial mixture of science fact, fiction, fantasy and the paranormal" seemed to be the model for the unpopular changes Guccione Junior instituted at Discover, which included stories on such scientific topics as stigmata and "wonderment."

Sadly, as Junior has been "between projects" since leaving Discover, we'll have to wait for the next masterwork to come out of the House of Gooch.
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