Pros: Well written erotica that appeals to both men and women, cheaper than most adult magazines
Cons: The stories and letters are often cliché
Note: This review is of PENTHOUSE VARIATIONS, not PENTHOUSE. I shall repost this review when Epinions creates a separate category for PENTHOUSE VARIATIONS. Also, this review contains a frank discussion of sexuality and paraphelias. If such topics offend you, even when described in a tasteful way, you are not sophisticated or worldly enough to be part of my target audience and should probably stop reading now.
PENTHOUSE VARIATIONS is a monthly sister publication of PENTHOUSE magazine, featuring erotic stories and readers? letters. VARIATIONS is distinguished from PENTHOUSE FORUM in that the content of VARIATIONS is more kinky, while FORUM tends to be more ?vanilla.?
The writing style is much better than that of most erotic magazines or websites. These stories are written by superb fiction writers with a gift for descriptive language. Some debate whether the readers? letters are real, in large part because they appear written by skilled, professional writers. I have no reason to doubt the truthful content of the letters, as sociological and psychological research indicates that millions of people engage in the described activities. I am, however, certain that the letters are edited by professional writers for style and grammar.
The types of kink described in VARIATIONS are, as the name of the magazine implies, quite varied. Common topics include female domination, spanking, bondage and discipline, foot fetishism, erotic wrestling, transvestitism, group sex, outdoor sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sex in unusual places, partner swapping, golden showers, phone sex and casual sexual encounters in everyday life. For a serious treatment of the sexual practices described in VARIATIONS, I recommend THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNUSUAL SEX PRACTICES by BRENDA LOVE. You can view my review of this book at http://epinions.com/book-review-57C1-8BDE1EA-397DD081-prod1.
Although lesbian encounters are a staple of VARIATIONS, stories of male homosexuality are rare, but do appear every now an then. I assume this is because the majority of VARIATIONS readers are heterosexual men, most of whom are turned on by lesbians. The homosexual stories tend to be of the bi-curious variety, in which a previously straight man discovers his latent homosexuality and has his first gay experience.
Seriously taboo subjects are absent from VARIATIONS. There are no stories involving incest, bestiality, infantilism, pedophilia, castration, scat, acrotomophilia (the sexual attraction to amputees), necrophilia or death and dismemberment. Therefore, despite its focus on kink, VARIATIONS can rightly be considered a main stream adult magazine. That is why it can be found in convenience stores and not just adult book stores.
The stories and letters generally are accompanied by pictures related to their contents. While PLAYBOY models tend to have the wholesome look of sorority girls or beach babes, PENTHOUSE models have the bad girl look of strippers and porn stars. Personally, I like the PENTHOUSE models better because they are more voluptuous and thick than the skinny PLAYBOY models.
I don?t find VARIATIONS nearly as arousing as I did as a virginal, geeky teenager. I eventually developed the social skills needed to get girlfriends and pick up girls for casual sex. I?ve had many sexual partners and experiences and have engaged in all kinds of kink. Perhaps it is because I, and many people I know, have engaged in many of the activities described in the magazine that I now find it rather mundane. Many of the scenarios are simply repeated, with subtle differences.
As an illustration of the repetitive scenarios, I?ll use the female domination stories as an example. Here are some typical cliched scenarios in the female domination stories and readers? letters: 1) A secretary turns the tables on her boss and makes him her sex slave, 2) a peeping tom is caught by his angry female victim who overpowers, degrades and humiliates him, 3) a wife or girlfriend discovers her husband or boyfriend is cheating or has a hidden stash of porn and exacts her revenge by sexually dominating him and humiliating him, 4) a college boy is gang raped, degraded, dominated and humiliated by sorority girls as part of a sorority ritual, 5) a male chauvinist makes disparaging comments about the physical strength of women, and then is overpowered and humiliated by a much stronger, athletic woman, 6) a dominant woman introduces a female friend to female domination by loaning her male slave to her, 7) a dominant woman or submissive man describes various activities he or she does with his or her partner. The aforementioned scenarios probably account for about 90% of the female domination stories and letters in VARIATIONS.
I would highly recommend VARIATIONS to young people coming of age and discovering their sexual identity, or older people who did not discover their kinky side until later in life. On the other hand, I would not really recommend VARIATIONS to seasoned kinksters, as they will likely find it banal and filled with cliches.