Friday, September 28, 2018

The Last Word: A Tribute To Women, Omni and Terry Runté

Little be it known that one of the most illuminating and inspirational magazines with regard to science and the beyond was also the publisher of an adult pornographic magazine none other than Penthouse.

Penthouse was pursued by many in the public eye, either attempting to follow their lead, to innovate where they'd failed or to have them closed as a violation of morality. Their adversaries included Playboy, who sought to lead the upper edge in terms of erotic photography and exposé, surpassing their bravado for the appreciation of the female form. It is ironic to note that many of the photographic works in Penthouse were close in form to iconic nude paintings of the past such as those by Van GoghRenoirMonet or even Michelangelo (with the majority of Michelangelo's nude work being of males). Ironically much of the criticism directed towards Guccioné was by proxy directed at those and other visionary artists of the past.

Renoir - Sleeping Woman (1897) c/o
The only derision that can perhaps be drawn from this idea is that nudity is perfectly natural (and pure), but of a social aspect that must be learned, appreciated and understood in context over years of time for most people feel embarrassed their own sexuality. As such, despite the fact that there is nothing more natural than the human form (to humans), the human body has to other people a natural (pure) context and a sexual context. Depending upon the society from which you originate, the openness of the exposure to  nudity is of varying differences and degrees sometimes according to age and sometimes irrespective of it. It was as if Guccioné was taking on and in favour of the Eve of the Garden Of Eden in terms of its social representation with regard to Women not suffering the social pressures and oppression afforded them for their sex or their bodies. Likewise though not so nearly as oppressively for Men and the masculine.

Guccioné was pressing upon a theme that would eventually confront society much later on though from another form of social oppression. It would seem that in order for society's global liberation to progress that the Women's liberation must be realized and procured. The same sexual oppression that resulted in the Women's Suffrage is also the same oppression that faced the world's LGBTQ community as well. The acknowledgement of a community's feelings with regard to having the say over what happens with their bodies, while not being penalized for their sex or sexuality in any way that set their rights differently from those of any other sex. Both Guccioné and Hugh Hefner were essential instruments in opening the doors beyond the Women's vote, and this has nothing to do with objectifying Women as sex objects but arriving at the point that a Woman has the full say over what she does with her body. Rights that stand and are important for every Woman as they are for every human being.

During the reign of Bob Guccioné as an artist and photographer in appreciation of the profound beauty of a Woman's form, he proved himself a dreamer and philosopher, dining and debating with the likes of Isaac Asimov, Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clark and many other scientific and literary visionaries. What a wonder of food and conversation that must have been to sit at such a table keeping in mind that both Guccioné's wife and other models would also dine with them for dinner. None trying to steer their topic of conversation in any way so as to limit their expression of ideas or to win some hidden or secret social game. Perhaps the more subtle and distinguished flavours of food were present as were the topics, averting the need for the extreme bitter or sweetness of flavour or word and a quick thrill. Rather food and word that left you both satiated and pondering long after the meal. Perhaps an art that is rapidly being sacrificed in place of immediate gratification and extreme short lived flavours and subject matter.

Publishing Penthouse was not enough for this visionary genius and he continued his upward trend by introducing the magazine Omni, a speculative science and fiction magazine which to this day has both published and inspired generations of innovators who appreciated the beauty of the human body as much so as the human mind and capacity for innovation regardless of which sex from which those dreams hailed.

Personally one of my favourite authors of all time has to be one of the recurring writers for Omni magazine. He would be of course none other than the legendary Terry Runté. During his time he published many a story upon which was founded the fame of Omni's Last Word column. The last article of every issue usually of surprising insight and humour only found in the writings of one like Terry. Unfortunately Terry was murdered in 1994 while away researching for a script. Terry left a lasting impact upon my life that has stayed with me until today and is a worthy part of Bob Guccioné's legacy. I can honestly say that I love Penthouse in more ways than the one that you're likely thinking and I am writing this as myself, Brian Joseph Johns and not Eugene Francois with all due respect.

Brian Joseph Johns