Premature Ejection

When Penthouse editor-in-chief Mark Healy first quit and was then ignominiously escorted from the building at One Penn Plaza in Manhattan this October, his departure raised a few eyebrows. No, nobody was surprised by the nature of the tossing — “You can’t quit; you’re fired” is nothing new in the publishing world — but the short duration of his tenure and his return to the Condé womb has got insiders pointing to an unpopular practice of the Nasties’ HR dept.

Healy left GQ, where he was an articles editor, less than a year ago to take the reigns at Penthouse and soften its content, only to return to GQ now with the inflated rank of editorial projects director. One publishing insider made the claim that Condé Nast has a prohibition against making that sort of promotion from within, and that there is a pattern of editorial people leaving the nest only to wing their ways back a short time later with some outside experience at a more senior position. Reps at Condé Nast would neither confirm nor deny that this policy, even tacitly, exists.

Healy told WWD he left in part because he was unhappy with the more explicit direction the mag is planning to go in. But Penthouse Media Group President and Publisher Diane Silberstein maintains there are no plans to change the pictorials and says, “We are certainly not going back to the old Penthouse.” In light of this, one must wonder if Healy had planned a temporary engagement with the Pets all along — a sudden bout of prudishness seems an unlikely culprit in his decision to jump.

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