My Story, Yours Too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Origins Blogfest and Penthouse Magazine Fame

Today I'm participating in the Origins Blogfest, the brainchild of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude. Co-sponsors include Alex J. Cavanaugh, Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE. We're sharing the origins of our writing dreams.

I've been writing ever since I could hold a crayon. Instead of boring you, though, I'll cut to a highlight: my Penthouse Magazine fame. 

For my graduate research project, I explored Anti-Semitism on the UC Berkeley campus. In the process, I interviewed several professionals in Bay Area Jewish organizations and naively gave one of them a copy of my paper. In turn, and without my permission, she forwarded my work to Penthouse Magazine. Next thing I knew, I received a call from a Penthouse reporter for a phone interview. 

Thus, I'm  featured, no clothes (or picture) in Penthouse Magazine's 1994 Collector's Edition - the big 25th anniversary issue. I can't provide the direct link to the article, but you can purchase the magazine for as low as $5 through Amazon. Warning: copies have been "used," so handle with care.

“I’m um only buying this because I’m published in it,” I told the cashier the day it hit the shelves. She shot me a blank look that said, “I don’t give a crap. Just hand over your money and scram, lady.” But you didn't even ask for my ID, I thought, highly disappointed that (1) I looked my age and (2) I was committing blasphemy with such ease. 

Upon flipping it open, I was shocked to find that my main quote was taken out of context. Further, the lettering was magnified to about 24 point font, with the quote centered in a humongous text box and my full name in boldly legible but smaller letters below. Still, I was excited. Everyone I knew was happy to buy a copy too, in support of my research. (The Journal of Jewish Communal Service published my work in the Summer of 1994, and I was interviewed by several other publications. Nobody expressed interest in those articles, though.) 

Over the years, the tone and substance of my writing have shifted subtly. I’ve gone from investigating sociological phenomena that set the foundation for genocide to dating, sex, and celibacy. Around the time I began blogging (Spring of 2009), a couple of my pieces about dating were accepted for publication in Being Single Magazine. An incredibly exotic, dark, sexy woman's face graces the first page of my article, Single Livin', just above my name. I proudly announced, "If this doesn't help my dating life, nothing will." ...Nah, it didn't help.

It did, however, motivate me to keep writing about my miserable romantic life. It seems my dating turmoil brings others happiness and this makes me happy. The more I date and fail at romance, the more I spread laughter. It's a lose-win-win.

I'm currently struggling to write my first book, Woman on the Verge of Paradise. I don't know how to write a book, and I just hope to finish it someday. Moreover, I hope that, if I do finish it someday, I finish it before I die. And if it attracts a minuscule fraction of the Penthouse "readership," I'll deem myself successful. Especially if I'm still alive. Regardless, the journey's always interesting. Isn't it?

PS Tomorrow I'll post the winners of the Anti-Valentine's Day Chocolate Giveaway.


  1. You hope to finish it before you die? Is that versus finishing it after you die??? Not sure anyone has ever done that... although it could be a very good draw, LOL, but wouldn't that bite!!!

  2. I'm very impressed that you went to Berkeley, and love your Penthouse story! Of course your first article would appear in the 25th Collector's Edition! I would love to see a copy, and thumb through a gently used edition with a pair of tongs. You will complete your book in plenty of time to enjoy its success. Julie

  3. I'm impressed that your first article is still easily available, subject to condition! The mag my first short story was in folded a couple of years later. I still have it though - probably the only one in existence!

  4. That's amazing that your article was your first publication in a magazine that was celebrating it's 25th anniversary Robyn, that's a seriously awesome achievement!

  5. The irony – first published in Penthouse, now writing about celibacy!
    Congratulations on finding your niche – such an important step in a writer’s “journey.”

  6. That is a *fabulous* claim to fame, and probably excellent cocktail party discussion! Good luck with your book!

  7. The smut gets one tons of readers, all you need is a naked butt and other Great though and hope you get your book done before you die might be hard to do otherwise, I hear zombies don't write so well.

  8. Nice, being famous for Penthouse without taking off your clothes! Don't worry about finding love: I was in the same boat, and when I stopped trying is when it happened.
    Good luck with your book.

  9. Wow. How strange and awesome at the same time.

  10. New opening line on a date - "I've been in Penthouse?"

  11. Good luck with your book. And no matter what, getting that article published in Penthouse is quite an achievement.

  12. Oh baby....too bad they didn't pay you the price of a penthouse for it...The book as soon as it gets one in a year or two needs just....some steamy picture to attract the old crowd back...Impressive credentials to possess.

  13. MsA, I might suspect Edgar Allan Poe of it. And what an amazing writer he was (or maybe still is??) An eerie thought.

    Empty, thanks so much for your sweet encouragement. Yes, a rather lengthy pair of tongs at that. Good idea.

    Annalisa, glad you still have it. I don't have the Penthouse Mag. I have the article somewhere but just didn't care to hold onto the magazine. It wasn't even "used."

    YW, yeah, and I had no idea it'd be their big Collector's Edition.

    Beth, it's humorously ironic. I sometimes think these things happen to me only for the sake of a good story. Thank you.

    Sarah, thank you so much!

    Pat, I've thought about hiring a zombie ghostwriter, but maybe that's a bad idea. Thanks.

    Stuart, yes, I kept my clothes on for Penthouse. Thanks for your pick-me-up comment about love and for visiting.

    Matthew, strange and awesome is right. It got creepy, too, when a strange man called from Georgia to ask about my research. I've been unlisted ever since. Thank you.

    LaughingMom, that would make for an interesting conversation. I'll have to try that. Then again, maybe not.

    Thanks, everyone, and especially my new followers!


  14. Robyn, you win! We need a first prize award for that entry.
    And have you read Rek's entry yet? You will LOVE it.

  15. YOU are interesting--and I'll tip you over the Verge....cept I'm married and only live 3,000 miles away!

    Love ya tons Robyn-- (handle with care--LMBO!!!)



  16. Boy, I'm so jealous! I wish I had a column in Penthouse. I wouldn't write about anti-Semitism, nor even anti-Simianism. I never realised they were interested in such topics.

  17. If you finished it after you died, would that make you a ghostwriter?

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Robyn, Try the pick up line, then you can blog about the results.

  20. Thanks, dear readers.

    I should clarify that Penthouse didn't publish my paper. They reported on a phone interviewe based on my research. (Still an interesting story, though.)

    Alex, I really appreciate that and your having sent me to Rek's site. Yes, I LOVED it A LOT. I'm flattered I was featured (in a very realistic way too). Fun stuff.

    John, thanks. LYMI. Handle with care. xo

    GB, it's so random that they'd write about the topic. I'm just now wondering if the woman who passed my paper to them had a personal connection with Penthouse. (She was a bit odd and unethical.)

    Ruth, I believe it would. Good point.

    Teri, good idea. I'm guessing my celibacy streak would quickly cease if I went with that line. Hmmm...

    Thank you, everyone.

  21. PS phone "interview," not "interviewe". Where's spellcheck when you need it? =0>

  22. HI robyn,
    I'm dropping by from the Origins Blogfest. Loved reading about how you got started. HOpe you do finish your book soon!

  23. That's crazy that you got unintentionally published in Penthouse! Awesome (and I about spit out my tea laughing when you said it was available used on Amazon but to beware, after all, it is used).

    Your wry humor in your writing reminds me of Anne Lamott! Keep writing, I want to read more! (new follower)

  24. Your story sure takes the cake for the most unusual, I think. Love your story, and love your voice. Count me in as your newest follower.

  25. Wonderful post!! I hope you do finish your novel. I'd love to read it. Following back. :)

  26. That was an awesome ORIGIN story! I might have even seen that Penthouse issue..for the articles of course! :) Keep working on that book!

  27. Now I have to get a copy of it. Where can I hide it so others won't see it? Hmm...

  28. Did you hear me scream just now? Sorry to shatter your eardrums but I just made 500 followers. THANK YOU, TONJA!!! WOOHOO! AND THANKS TO DL AND THE CO-HOSTS OF THIS GREAT BLOGFEST.

    Nutshell, thanks for dropping by.

    Margo and Susan, it's great to meet you through the blogfest.

    As for Penthouse, looks as though I can refer you (Sarah and others) to DL if you have questions about its content.

    Thanks, friends.

  29. "Used"? In what manner? I'm kinda confus....ohhhhhhhh, now I get it.
    Name and address withheld by request.

  30. Write on, my friend. Keep writing and you'll get there. :) Thanks for sharing your story!

  31. What a story!!!!
    "Warning: copies have been "used," so handle with care."
    Ok I just have to say EWWWWWWWWWW! ok I got it out of my system.
    I have no doubt that you will finish and Publish your book. I look forward to reading it someday.
    Blessings, Joanne

  32. Oh I have complete faith that you will finish it - just try to do it while you are still alive ( That's the same thing Penthouse says to all of its writers and models)! W.C.C.

  33. Great story.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today too and leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

    Follower 501

  34. Your journey is very interesting! Lol. I'm sure you are going to finish and publish your book! Good luck!

  35. Oh Em Gee, you my friend are awesome. I mean we all knew that already, but wow!
    Oh, you will write that book and sell more than Penthouse and Playboy combined!!!!
    Love you lots
    keep kickin' a$$
    gi gi

  36. The journey is always the most interesting part.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  37. That's a unique story! It's great you're using your dating pain to make others laugh. Hopefully you will soon find what you're looking for.

  38. Penthouse has words in it? I never noticed...
    That's a pretty cool start, now work on that book! I'm so pathetic about writing. I need medication!

  39. Robyn, Love your title, 'Woman on the Verge of Paradise'!

    Penthouse, Celibacy, single on the verge of *paradise*... THAT'S irony.

    I've been to paradise, the frozen custard kind, and I'm here to tell ya, marriage ain't it.

    "Lose-win-win" ~ Brilliant!!

    So glad I finally found you in the Fest! Your voice is contagious.

  40. That's a great story... I had no idea you were in Penthouse... lol - brilliant..can you scan the article and put it up? I'd love to see it..

    ..adn you went to Berkely too.. not that I know anything about the place, but have heard of it...

    Looking forward to reading your book.. I have a strong feeling that one day I will be...



  41. Thanks, Anthony. I have a strong feeling I may ask you to read it before publication. And I'll send you some links asap.

    Scarlett, there's all sorts of gems in that comment. Thanks so much. I'm glad to follow you in return.

    Pat, the words about my research did take up a full page. It was probably the one solid page of writing in the mag's history.

    Km and Arlee, thank you. I appreciate your stopping by.

    Gigi, LOL, love you lots too. Thanks, doll.

    Ashley, thanks for cheering me on. I really appreciate it.

    Michael, woohoo! Welcome, #501. Thanks so much!

    WC, good point! Thanks for the laugh.

    Joanne, thanks for shouting "EWWWW" for us all. Blessings back to you.

    Lynn, I appreciate your kind words.

    Al, sweetie, we don't need to have "that talk" - do we?

    Thank you, everyone.

  42. Fabulous claim to fame. I will buy your book just finish it.LOL

  43. Featured in a 25-year retrospective issue? And you got to keep on your Peter Pan collar? You are probably the only attractive contributor whose MIND they respected! Fabulous achievement, babe.

  44. Hey, you're famous!! That's really cool about your article. :)