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The Playboy Club



The Playboy Club was initially a chain of nightclubs and resorts owned and operated by Playboy Enterprises. The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960. Each club generally featured a Living Room, a Playmate Bar, a Dining Room, and a Club Room. Members and their guests were served food and drinks by Playboy Bunnies, some of whom were featured in Playboy magazine. The clubs offered name entertainers and comedians in the Club Rooms, and local musicians and the occasional close-up magician in the Living Rooms. Starting with the London and Jamaica club locations, the Playboy Club became international in scope.




The Playboy Club



In 1991, the club chain became defunct. Thereafter, on October 6, 2006, a Playboy Club was opened in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino Resort,[1] and in 2010 clubs were opened as well in Macau[2] and Cancun.[3] In time, the Las Vegas club closed on June 4, 2012,[4] the Macao club closed in 2013,[5][6] and the Cancun club closed in 2014.[7][8] In May 2014 the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles opened a Playboy-themed lounge consisting of gaming tables and Playboy Bunny cocktail waitresses.[9] In September 2018 a Playboy Club was opened in Midtown Manhattan but permanently closed in November 2019 after just over one year in operation.[10]


The first club opened at 116 E. Walton Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, United States, on February 29, 1960. It relocated to Clark and Armitage in Lincoln Park in 1980 and closed in June 1986.[11]Eventually many clubs were established across the United States:


During the last three months of 1961, more than 132,000 people visited the Chicago club, making it the busiest night club in the world. Playboy Club membership became a status symbol. Only 21% of all key holders ever went to a club. At $25.00 per year per membership, Playboy grossed $25 million for every 1,000,000 members.


On October 6, 2006, Playboy opened a new Playboy Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. The new club at The Palms, with its prominent neon bunny head, had casinos, bars, and a restroom with pictures of Playmates on the walls.[19] The club closed in June 2012.[20]


In October 2010, it was announced that a new Playboy Club in London was to be opened on the site of the old Rendezvous Mayfair Casino 14 Old Park Lane. It was opened on June 4, 2011.[22][23] The 17,000 sq ft property, spread over two floors, was designed by London-based architects Jestico + Whiles.[24] The club features a casino, cigar terrace, gentleman's tonic, sports bar ("The Player's Lounge"), night club ("The Tale Bar"), cocktail bar under the direction of Salvatore Calabrase, and a fine dining restaurant under the reins of Iron Chef Judy Joo. Along the stair-walls, a row of lenticular portraits are hung winking and smiling at guests as they walk by.[25]


In November 2012, spokesman Sanjay Gupta announced that PB Lifestyle, the company in India with rights to the brand, would be opening its first club in India at Candolim, Goa in December 2012. It was planned as a 22,000 square feet (2,000 m2) beach location.[26] In April 2013, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar refused the application on "technical grounds".[27] Parrikar said only individuals, not corporations, were eligible to operate a beach shack style club. The law did not preclude opening a night club.[28] After the Goa club, PB Lifestyle planned to open clubs in Hyderabad and Mumbai.[29] India's obscenity laws ban material deemed "lascivious or appealing to prurient interests".[30] Adult magazines such as Playboy are banned in India. Designer Mohini Tadikonda has altered the original Playboy Bunnies uniform to satisfy India's obscenity laws.[31] In 2nd half of 20th century, Spain, a local Hostess Bar businessman in the Valencia community registered the name: 'Club Playboy' and the rabbit icon. Several of this kind exist under the name.


On September 12, 2018, a Playboy Club was opened in New York City at 512 West 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan.[32][33] Many questioned the wisdom of opening a Playboy Club in the #MeToo era.[34][35] On November 14, 2019, after just over one year in operation, the owners of the new Playboy Club in New York City announced the club had closed and the space would be re-branded as a steak house and other entertainment venue.[36][37]


Members of the Playboy Club cast and crew have stated they believe the series, and the concept of the Playboy Bunny in general, is empowering to women.[38][39] One of the show's taglines spoke to this theme: "The men have the keys, but the women hold all of the power."[39] During a Television Critics Association press tour, Amber Heard discussed past Bunnies who had gone on to successful careers and did not regret their past experience working at Playboy clubs, including Lauren Hutton, Debbie Harry, Kimba Wood and Polly Matzinger.[38] Heard said she believed the female characters in The Playboy Club were making free choices about their sexuality, and thus they were not being exploited,[16][39] adding, "I think it's just as chauvinistic to deny a woman her sexuality."[39] Naturi Naughton said she believed the women who worked as Playboy Bunnies were intelligent, self-reliant women who went to school, bought homes and accomplished things other women during their time could not.[38] Likewise, Chad Hodge said he did not believe there was anything wrong with a woman using her sexuality to get what she wants if she so chooses, adding: "There are different brands of feminism and I don't think it should be boxed into any one version."[35] Hodge later stressed, however, that despite his comments about the empowerment of women, he did not believe The Playboy Club conveyed any strong political convictions or intellectual ambitions, but rather was meant to be entertaining.[35]


The subplot involving the Mattachine Society focuses specifically on the growing gay rights movement in the United States in the 1960s and what it was like to be gay or a lesbian during a time period that was still repressive of that culture.[17] The Playboy Club also touched upon changing thoughts with regard to racial diversity during the 1960s. One of the supporting characters, Brenda, seeks to become the first African American Playboy Bunny.[20] Her role in the series illustrates Hugh Hefner's decision to integrate his clubs, both by hiring black women and allowing black key-holders and performers, which was considered unusual at the time.[16] Brenda was loosely based on the model Jennifer Jackson, the actual first Black Playmate of the Month, although neither Naughton nor the Playboy Club producers contacted Jackson in preparing the role.[40]


The Playboy Club was heavily advertised on NBC and elsewhere in the weeks leading up to the series premiere.[54] Laura Benanti appeared on a retro style cover of Playboy magazine released on September 16, 2011. The magazine had a 1961 theme, which included an old-fashioned visual style, photos of 1960s Playboy Bunnies and clubs, and the same 60 cent price as that time period. Benanti wore a black Bunny costume and held a tray with drinks on the cover photo.[69] NBC also entered into a cross-promotional deal with the Bloomingdale's department store. The Walton Street store in Chicago included display windows inspired by the series,[70][71] which were unveiled in September 2011 by The Playboy Club stars Benanti, Naturi Naughton and Wes Ramsey.[70] Chosen for the storefronts due to its close proximity to the original Playboy Club, the Walton Street store allowed visitors to take virtual photos with the show's stars, view photos of the real-life clubs and the show's set, and enter into a contest to win such prizes as a walk-on role on the show and a $5,000 Bloomingdale's shopping spree.[70]


Marilyn Miller, who spent six years working in as a Playboy Bunny in real-life clubs, told Vanity Fair that the series was unrealistic, particularly in its portrayal of the Bunnies dancing with and dating the customers. Miller said, "I thought it was cheap, it was degrading, it was demoralizing.... Not one Bunny I know liked the show. Everyone is hoping it gets canceled."[95] In contrast, former Playboy Bunny Jennifer Jackson said she enjoyed the show, particularly the storyline, the casting and the set design.[40]


The club's creative and marketing directors, however, see it as a welcome revival of the brand. Richie Notar, the creative director of the club who is an alum of Nobu and Studio 54, and Nicole Levinson, who handles marketing and communications for the brand, say the club has always been ahead of its time and defend it as inherently empowering for women.


The bar area of the club is open to the public, but memberships for exclusive access and perks start at $5,000 a year and go up to $100,000. Those who buy a top-tier membership will get perks that include chauffeur services to and from the club, 10 complimentary nights at a local boutique hotel, 10 VIP sports tickets a year in the Playboy seats for either Giants, Jets, Knicks, or Rangers games or the US Open, and a VIP table with bottle service at all Playboy events. The club sold more than 200 memberships as of mid-October, about 40% of them to women, a representative told me.


The club was an extension of the Playboy magazine Hefner, a Steinmetz High School graduate, created out of his Hyde Park apartment in 1953. Clubs eventually opened all over the U.S. and in international spots like Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, England and Canada.


Bunnies that worked their tails off before jumping into wider fame include Kate Moss, Debbie Harry and Lauren Hutton. But as women were empowered, the Bunnies were left behind. The New York and Los Angeles clubs closed in 1986 with the last shutting its doors in 1991.


Playboy Enterprises relaunched a club within the Sands Casino in 2006 and they started multiplying into Asia. All have since closed but for a bar in Mumbai and another as a casino in Mayfair, London that is owned by Playboy Enterprises and managed by Caesars Entertainment where among other chores, Bunnies serve afternoon tea. 041b061a72


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