Some 35 years ago, my wife and I were invited to lunch at the New York mansion of Bob Guccione, the publisher of
Penthouse magazine. A limo whisked us uptown to his address in the Upper East Side, where a security guard checked our credentials. We were then ushered in to what could have been a Florentine palazzo. Roman columns and plinths abounded, and I halfexpected a sunken swimming pool. Sure enough, there it was, just to the right of the private cinema.
We were led up a staircase past a succession of Old Masters to a landing archway. To the left hung a Blue Period Picasso, to the right a Renoir. Inside the drawing room was more Italian art, and a grand piano said to have been used by Judy Garland.
Champagne was served in gold flutes by the Penthouse Pet of 1993, Julie Strain, all 6ft 2in of her. Apart from ankle-length boots, she wore just two articles of clothing: a low-cut, white, silk blouse designed to show off her magnificently enhanced bosom, and gossamer-thin black slacks, as tight as peach skin. Lunch was hosted by Guccione’s wife, a former Miss South Africa, who ate nothing but vitamin pills washed down with mineral water, all the time making a robust defence of South African politics pre-mandela.
I worked in the wine trade; this surreal experience came our way as our advertising budget for Cockburn’s Port had included a couple of insertions in Penthouse. As we got up to leave, someone pointed out a Botticelli on the wall. I’m afraid by then the only ‘botty’ I thought worth looking at was Ms Strain’s.
By Peter Cobb, who receives £50. Readers are invited to send in their own 400-word submissions about the past
Julie Strain, 1993’s Penthouse Pet