May 27, 2022 12:08 pm

Murder attempts, sex and drugs: the dark war of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler for the empire of porn

Updated:

The eighties were years of change and steering wheel blows. While our Spain, the one with the skirt down to the ankles, mutated towards uncovering and overcame the ravings of a lieutenant colonel with a prominent mustache, the United States lived through the arrival of the first woman to the Supreme Court and the boiling of video cassette tapes . And do not think that the latter was unimportant. What some called the generalization of culture through the small screen was also the chronicle of a slow and little announced death: that of adult content magazines. The ‘Playboy‘, ‘Penthouse‘ Y ‘Hustler‘ strictly.

And, as you know, rough storms cause the agitation of the sailors.

As revealed by ABC in a series of news published in that decade, the tension between headers lit up a fight of machete and earth in the eyes in the porn industry whose zenith was the hiring of a hit man by Larry King, owner of ‘Hustler ‘, to end the lives of his opponents. At least, that is how the then New York correspondent, José María Carrascal, reported it: «A plot to assassinate the editors of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Penthouse’? That is what the Los Angeles sheriff assures, presenting a check for a million dollars as evidence.

publishing disaster

The porn war germinated in 1982 with a drastic reduction in the number of copies sold. «Among the many businesses that are going down in these lean years are magazines dedicated to sex, more or less explicit, more or less elegant, more or less perfumed. All, without exception, have experienced casualties, as if sex were one of those luxury items that are dispensed with when things start to go wrong, ”said this newspaper.

The fuse that set off the explosive was ‘Playboy’, once capable of throwing out almost seven million copies, and then less than five. Its main rival, ‘Penthouse’, was already at four million. Those anemic runs corresponded, to make matters worse, with a drop in advertising, the muscle that still drives the machinery of magazines today: 1% in ‘Playboy’, 6% in ‘Penthouse’.

+ info

The detachment was suspected, as Christie Hefner, at the head of the porn empire after having inherited it from his father, the more than popular Hugh Hefner, correctly stated to this newspaper: «That expansion at the beginning of the seventies, characterized by an almost childish curiosity for everything sexually explicitly displayed, it’s over.” The thirty-year-old assumed that it was time to “offer something more than skin in the publications”; other types of entertainment that would attract the public. And he confirmed that he would take it to publication in the following issues.

ABC did not entirely agree with Christie Hefner. More than the public’s lack of interest in sex, this newspaper attributed the slowdown to the arrival of new technologies: “Today these much stronger manifestations can be found in movies, video cassettes and cable television channels, specialized in the matter”. Although he did not look badly at the twist that the owners of ‘Playboy’ had decided to give to their products. “The Hefners begin to orient their publications towards a ‘lifestyle’ type of publication, branching out into current affairs, fashion and electronics.”

The one who did see the change of course in a terrible way was the boss of ‘Penthouse’, Robert Guccione. Also a multimillionaire –don’t think he paid for the mansions with his sympathy–, the founder of a publishing empire that orbited around the nude declared that he did not intend to deviate one step from the path he had traced since he had launched his magazine to compete with Hefner. “Curiosity about sex does not diminish. The videocassettes may share it with us, but that only indicates that the interest is still there. And it will continue as long as ours continues to be a repressive society, which it is, and a lot. Ultimately, it’s what keeps us alive,” he said. Two strategies face to face, waiting to draw what a cheap ‘western’ duel.

Sex, drugs and murder

In the following years, the situation became more heated than a teenager acquiring this type of magazine. The high point came in 1988, when the Los Angeles sheriff, Sherman Block, made public an extravagant story that mixed the heavyweights of the sex and pornography industry in a cocktail shaker. Let the words of the law enforcement officer go ahead: «Larry Flynt phoned an afternoon in November of that year to an individual named Michael Werbell, telling him to come to his house. Once there, he offered him a million dollars to arrange for the removal of Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione and Walter Annemberg». The proposal was made in the form of a check.

According to the newspapers of the time, Flynt would have made that call after having consumed large amounts of drugs. “Werbell was a former international trafficker, soldier of fortune, and security adviser who, for some time, operated in a paramilitary camp near Atlanta,” explained José María Carrascal. Many others affirmed that he had collaborated in the training of the Green Berets of the United States and that he had some experience as a contract killer. But it didn’t take long for the plan to fizzle out. As soon as the guy walked out the door, Flynt’s manager voided the payment.

+ info

That check canceled by the administrator was the one that the sheriff presented as evidence for the prosecution. Although that surreal story had not been born from his mind, but had been aired before by a station in Los Angeles. Block took it seriously and, shortly after starting to investigate, he found the proof. “After studying the case, I have come to the conclusion that Larry Flynt has a propensity to harm all those he sees as enemies. Be it in business, be it in any other aspect of life,” the law enforcement officer revealed. He was right… Already in 1978, the constant altercations of the owner of ‘Hustler’ with his competitors caused him to be the victim of an assault that relegated him to a wheelchair.

At that time, ABC stated that Werbell also did not have time to carry out the assignment, as he was arrested with a gun in his possession and sent to prison. “There he said that he had been hired as a bodyguard for Flynt,” Carrascal said. He died shortly after being released from a heart attack that, to many researchers, was strange. In fact, one theory suggested that he had been poisoned by the publisher of ‘Hustler’. But there is no mystery. A few years ago, the FBI released the autopsy report, and its conclusions were crystal clear: heart failure due to chronic lung disease.

See them
comments



Reference-www.abc.es

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.