Penthouse, a magazine that started off as a soft-core adult magazine for men in the mid nineteenth century, evolved into a truly hardcore adult magazine by the 1990s. The magazine, founded by Bob Guccione, saw its fair share of controversies and legal disputes but still made its founders rich and richer. The magazine’s success was not just attributed to its racy contents and adult covers, but also to the writers who offered sensational revelations about scandals and cover ups; and to the birth of the concept of ‘Penthouse Pets’, of course!
Each month, the Penthouse magazine selects one gorgeous woman (who is not squeamish about showing some serious skin) as that month’s Penthouse Pet. These ladies get some serious viewership, not just as part of the magazine’s cover but also as a complete feature. Additionally, or rather as a consequence, they even go on to get successful careers as celebrities, models and actresses, or as the current trend goes, web cam stars and porn celebs. So here is a list of Penthouse Pets that were ‘made’ into successes due to their stints as 'Pets' of the month and 'Pets' of the year!
10 Traci Lords
Traci Lords, or Nora Kuzma if you are particular about real names, duped the entire porn industry when she moved on from nude modeling and shot her first pornographic video in 1984. She was just 16 then, though she produced several fake documents to deem her as an adult. Yet, it was after she was made a part of the Penthouse family in September 1984, that her career really took off. She later went on to B grade movies and then television too. Between the two year span of 1984 and 1986, Traci made somewhere between 80 to 100 adult movies and became a celebrity phenomenon of her time. It is a shame that her mainstream movie career never quite got over her pornographic start, or she really would have given several contemporary actresses of her time, a run for their money!
9 9) Kyla Cole
Born as Martina Jacova, Kyla Cole won the Monticello Runway Pageant before she debuted as a nude model for Hustler. Despite her shapeliness and beauty, this did not give her the overnight success card that she had hoped for. When she became the Penthouse Pet of the Month in March 2000, however, her career set off to a flyer. She won more beauty contests, graced more magazine covers, made several adult movies and has even run her own modeling agency after her Penthouse stint.
8 Tera Patrick
Tera Patrick, real name Tara Patrick, is a pornographic actress who is also a microbiologist, now that’s something, right? The lady became coveted property for magazine covers, adult films and videos and even books, (yes, you did read it right!) once she had appeared on both Playboy, as well as Penthouse (both in 2000). She has never looked back since.
7 Sunny Leone
Karenjit Kaur Vohra, better known as Sunny Leone, is many things, one of which is a porn star. She was Penthouse’s Pet of the Month in 2001, and Pet of The Year in 2003 and she was hand picked by Bob Guccione himself! If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what does. Destined for success, Sunny achieved great heights in the porn film and video industries. Though no longer an adult film actress, Sunny is now establishing herself in the Bollywood Indian film industry.
6 Jamie Lynn
American pornographic actress, Jamie Lynn (not to be confused with several other celebrities with the same name) made it as the Penthouse Pet of the month in 2005 and then as Pet of the Year in 2006. Though she was still an adult film actress before her Penthouse stints, it was really after the 'Pet" status that her career got the real thrust. She soon started her career with FTV (First Time Videos) and she has over 70 films to her credit. Additionally, she has also been named High Times magazine’s ‘Ganja Goddess’.
5 Heather Vandeven
Heather Vandeven was, believe it or not, a trained US Army enlistee, but her love for acting and modeling made her give it all up and make forays into the Los Angeles industry. She had already made a name for herself on television and in independent and studio films, before Penthouse decided to cast her as Pet of the Month in 2006 and later in 2007, as Pet of the Year! The Penthouse publicity did her a whole world of good, as she went on to become a successful television and film brand, post this fame. Heather has also worked with celebrity singers stars such as Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani and she has also had several big screen opportunities since then.
4 Audrey Bitoni
Audrey Arroyo, or Audrey Bitoni as she is better known as, is a famous porn actress and model. She has several pornography related awards to her name, including, but not limited to, several AVN awards! Yet, when she was yet to make her own place in the pornographic industry, Audrey appeared on the Penthouse 2008 magazine cover and skyrocketed to fame with her sultry looks. Being featured as Penthouse’s Pet of the Month got Audrey the big boost she required within the industry and the visible exposure enabled her to gain several fans. Later that same year, in fact, she even made it on the cover of Club International.
3 Taylor Vixen
With Taylor Vixen, it was a clear case of finding her calling. After she watched the Penthouse Pet of the Year announcement on television in 2008, Taylor always knew she would make a career shift from restaurant girl to adult star! She took up adult modeling and kept sending assorted photos of herself to various popular magazines. She started performing in hardcore movies in 2009. Her big break came in the form of Penthouse Pet of the Month feature, in 2009 and later a Penthouse Pet of the Year, in 2010. These launched her career onto a whole new stratosphere and the lady bagged centerfold features on several other racy magazines. Vixen announced her retirement from the industry last year.
2 Nikki Benz
2010 Penthouse Pet of the Month and 2011 Penthouse Pet of The Year starlet, Nikki Benz was always attracted to the adult movies industry. She started off in the industry in 2003 and made several movies, as well as videos, even before she grabbed her Penthouse fame. What Penthouse did for her is a little different from what you’d expect though. After her Penthouse popularity, the lady has hosted shows, produced content for her own website and owned and operated her own company; but what’s more, she recently (last month in fact) announced her candidacy as a mayoral candidate for Toronto City. Get that! It seems like there’s nothing Penthouse can’t do for you! After all, what you need most is fame, no?
1 Lexi Belle
Lexi Belle is the latest Penthouse Pet of the Year (2014), though she was Penthouse Pet of the Month last year, and has indeed got a taste of the kind of popularity this entails. Lexi started working in the porn industry at the age of 18 in 2006, and has done several videos and movies to date. She has also won a lot of popularity based awards from entities such as CNBC, AVN and XBIZ. In fact, her popularity is such that her website has already grown to the largest in the industry. Since her Penthouse awards are so recent, what they will do to her career cannot be accurately gauged just yet. But considering her pre-existing popularity and talent, we are sure enough of her meteoric rise, that we can confidently put her name in this list.