Straight to Hell began publication is unknown; the earliest number known is issue 3, from 1973. At its onset, it was focused briefly on foreskin fetishism.
Publication was irregular, and issues were not always dated nor copyrighted, although sometimes an approximate date can be inferred from advertisements or news items mentioned; for example, issue 53 contains an ad for Cum, so it was about 1983. It was published (under McDonald's editorship) "from the early seventies through the mid-eighties".
McDonald edited and published STH from a series of transient furnished rooms in Manhattan, in one of which he died. He typed the stories, editing while he typed, in the sizes needed by the layout of STH; he was thus its compositor. Pages were mimeographed (by McDonald), later copied at a neighborhood shop; they were hand-assembled, folded, and stapled. McDonald himself did everything during most of its run, and his work has been compared with samizdat publishing. At its peak, it had a circulation of ten thousand, and provided him with a small amount of income, to be spent on male prostitutes. He moved his attention and energy to his series of STH compilation books (with titles such as, "Filth", "Cum", "Sex", and "Raunch"), and turned over the editorship of the original chapbook series to first Victor Weaver in the mid-1980s, then finally to Billy Miller in 1989.
The latest issue published, as of 2017, was 68, edited by Miller.