Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story (2013)

(On Cable TV, June 2014) Bob Guccione will forever remain famous as the publisher of adult magazine Penthouse, but for me he was first and foremost the mad genius who put together the now-legendary OMNI magazine in all of its blended fact/fiction science/speculation glory. Filthy Gorgeous takes us through Guccione’s full life, spending a lot of time on the more scandalous aspects of his career, while not forgetting the way in which he tried to move beyond adult magazines and create something new: The infamous exploitation movie Caligula, the launch of OMNI and other magazines, the ill-fated investments in fusion power reactors and Atlantic City casinos. Guccione remains a compelling figure throughout, as artist, businessman and dreamer, first-amendment fighter and social nexus for high-powered visionaries and supermodels alike. Guccione’s role in expanding the limits of allowable discourse is also carefully explained here, cementing his place alongside Larry Flynn and Hugh Hefner. (Ironically, though, the most infamous Penthouse issue, featuring a nude pictorial of then-Miss America Vanessa Williams, eventually proved a costly crest for the magazine, which suffered significant consequences from the episode and so may have started its own downfall.) As a documentary, Filthy Gorgeous is a fairly standard assortment of talking heads and archival footage, albeit with a bit of tasteful nudity in accurately portraying Guccione’s artistic pursuits. A fascinating subject makes for a fairly interesting documentary film, and it’s hard to ask for more than that.

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