Penthouse becomes Treehouse!

Venerable stroke book offers high-gloss hand candy for tree huggers.

Published March 15, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

Penthouse magazine today announced a major redesign that is intended to boost the magazine's circulation while satisfying a growing lust among American readers. Now called Treehouse magazine, the venerable stroke book will keep many of its traditional features, skewing them to fit a lucrative new niche: nature porn.

In a press conference, editors conceded that sex-driven content has been so widely available on the Internet that fondlers of glossy girlie mags are becoming extinct. But, the editors insisted, as the new scorched-Earth environmental policies of the Bush administration get off the ground, a new Nature-starved readership has come lusting. "Treehouse magazine will deliver hardcore hand candy for tree huggers without trees," said new editor Carl Pope, rumored to be leaving the Sierra Club for a six-figure deal with the Guccione clan. "We will publish Nature red in tooth and claw."

Pope scoffed at early warnings that oil industry heavies and other corporate friends of the coal-fired president will oppose the magazine. Indeed, the comments of at least one proponent of fossil fuels, who wished to remain anonymous, cheered the Treehouse effort: "I'm happy to finally see Nature where it belongs -- in magazines! Just don't put it where my kids can buy it."

Pope promised to keep certain favorite features of the old Penthouse, including the centerfold, which will feature double-truck spreads of wide open spaces -- steamy rain forests, full-frontal glaciers, big trees, big wet lakes and big big skies. Look for the monthly Treehouse Pet, a bodacious species of flora or fauna that is scheduled for extinction. Treehouse will capture the comely critter in its natural habitat, and if more than one is left, they'll be mating.

Readers will be invited to send in their most detailed Nature fantasies to Treehouse Forum: Think romping baby wolves velvety to the touch, bathing snow monkeys with soulful eyes, stampeding elephants, blooming deserts, meerkats. And guest columnist Julia "Butterfly" Hill will answer questions about living with Nature, giving advice to those who wish to have meaningful relationships with vanishing greenery but have become awkward in the face of dwindling natural resources. Where do you find virginal tracts of open space? And how do you get comfortable with their untamed behavior and appearance? Any advice for hair-trigger spouting of John Muir quotations?

Each month, says Pope, in a feature called Green Piece, Treehouse will turn the lens on a saucy little mountain range, wetland or tundra and detail its super-hot vitals and multiple organisms. Scratch-and-sniff tidal pools, 3-D reef shots, triple XXX pullout posters of snow -- Pope said he won't hold back in the face of ravenous fresh-air fiends.

Expansion plans extend to videos ("Den of Cubs," "Naked Bobcats," "Potable Water in the Wild") and "green" toys (powdered pond scum for the bath, inflatable charismatic mega-fauna and Chia underpants). No word yet on Hef's retaliatory moves, but Larry Flynt has offered $1 million to the first person who can document an incidence of Christine Todd Whitman backpacking.

By Jennifer Foote Sweeney

Jennifer Foote Sweeney, CMT, formerly a Salon editor, is a massage therapist in northern California, practicing on staff at the Institutes for Health and Healing in San Francisco and Larkspur, and on the campuses of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.

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