Playboy Club

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Playboy Club
Company typeSubsidiary
FoundedFebruary 29, 1960; 64 years ago (1960-02-29), Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
FounderHugh Hefner
United States
ParentPlayboy Enterprises

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.

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. The opening acts were comedian Dick Gregory and then 17-year old singer, Aretha Franklin. Chicago jazz pianist, Sam Distefano, was the Musical Director. It relocated to Clark and Armitage in Lincoln Park in 1980 and closed in June 1986.[11] Over the next two decades, over two dozen clubs had been established across the United States:

Location Opened Closed
Chicago, Illinois February 29, 1960 June 1986
Miami May 20, 1961 1985
New Orleans October 13, 1961 1974
St. Louis October 16, 1962 September 25, 1975
New York December 1962 June 1986
Phoenix December 1962 June 1983
Detroit December 27, 1963[12] October 29, 1972[13]
Detroit 1974 1978
Baltimore 1964 1977
Cincinnati 1964 1983
Kansas City June 13, 1964 ~1972
Los Angeles December 31, 1964 June 1986
Atlanta March 1965 1975
San Francisco November 13, 1965 July 10, 1976
Boston February 1966 1977
Denver December 9, 1967 1977
Lake Geneva, WI May 6, 1968 1981
Buffalo March 1975 1990s
Buffalo April 24, 1981 1985
Dallas 1977 1982
St. Petersburg, FL 1980 1983
San Diego December 1981 July 1982
Columbus 1982 1985
Lansing September 17, 1982 July 1988
Omaha May 18, 1984 1988
Des Moines December 3, 1984 April 1988

There was also a Playboy Club in Montreal Canada. Playboy Clubs operated in Japan, under a franchise arrangement, in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Sapporo. There were Playboy Club resorts in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Great Gorge at McAfee, New Jersey, and at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, as well as Club-Hotels such as the Playboy Plaza in Miami Beach, Florida and Playboy Towers in Chicago. The last American location before Playboy Club Las Vegas opened was Lansing, Michigan, located in the Hilton Hotel, which closed in July 1988.

International Clubs existed until the 1991 closing of the Manila, Philippines Club located in the Silahis International Hotel. In 2010 International Clubs were opened in Macao and Cancun but in time the Macao Club closed in 2013 and the Cancun Club closed in 2014. Manila was the only Club ever to be featured in Architectural Digest.

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.

The Rabbit-headed metal Playboy key (supplanted by a metal key-card in 1966)[14] was required for admission to a club.[15] They were presented to the Door Bunny.

In 1965, Hugh Hefner sent Victor Lownes to London to open Playboy's British casinos, following legalization of gambling in the United Kingdom. Playboy's Musical Director, Sam Distefano, set up the entertainment policy for the London Playboy Club and Casino. In 1981, the casino at 45 Park Lane (now a luxury hotel, 45 Park Lane) was the most profitable casino in the world,[16] and the British casinos contributed $32 million to the corporation. Later, Playboy also operated British casinos in Manchester and Portsmouth. In 1981, Playboy opened a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with an 800-seat showroom designed by Playboy's Vice-President of Entertainment, Sam Distefano. However, the New Jersey gaming regulators denied Playboy a permanent gaming license, and Playboy sold its interest in the unit to Elsinore Corporation, its partner in the venture, in 1984, at which time the hotel and casino were renamed The Atlantis.

The Playboy Club's Douglas DC-9 jet airliner executive aircraft at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in 1975. It was used for transporting guests and staff.

The Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin featured architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright,[17] operated from May 6, 1968, until 1981, had a ski slope, and was one of the first to install a chair lift.[18] The facility is now operated as the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.[19] The 32-piece house orchestra was headed by Chicago pianist, Sam Distefano, who conducted for performers such as Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Liza Minnelli, Sonny & Cher, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Anka, Dionne Warwick, Wayne Newton, Vic Damone, Diahann Carroll, Bette Midler, Anthony Newley, Vikki Carr, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer and Ann-Margret. Distefano went on to serve as Playboy's Vice President of entertainment for all Playboy Clubs and Hotels worldwide until he left Playboy after 25 years.[20]

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.[21] The club closed in June 2012.[22]

Australian women were invited to Sydney to audition for the iconic Playboy Bunny role and for positions as singers and dancers at the Playboy Club. A minimum of five women were chosen to travel to Macao for a six-month contract as a Playboy Bunny. The Macao Playboy Club opened on November 24, 2010.[23]

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.[24][25] The 17,000 sq ft property, spread over two floors, was designed by London-based architects Jestico + Whiles.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28] In April 2013, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar refused the application on "technical grounds".[29] Parrikar said only individuals, not corporations, were eligible to operate a beach shack style club. The law did not preclude opening a night club.[30] After the Goa club, PB Lifestyle planned to open clubs in Hyderabad and Mumbai.[31] India's obscenity laws ban material deemed "lascivious or appealing to prurient interests".[32] 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.[33] 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.[34][35] Many questioned the wisdom of opening a Playboy Club in the #MeToo era.[36][37] 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.[38][39]

Playboy Club Bar at the Palms in Las Vegas

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Dick Van Dyke Show Season 5, Episode 6: Rob’s Uncle’s desk has a Bunny Key that Laura quickly takes from Rob.
  • In the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Bond replaces his wallet with that of the recently killed diamond smuggler Peter Franks to confuse his contact, Tiffany Case. When she opens the wallet she finds Bond's Playboy Club Member Card, which she uses to identify the man on the floor.
  • A 1976 episode of the TV show Charlies Angels entitled Lady Killer sends the angels to work undercover at the Feline Club, an obvious spoof of then still open Playboy Clubs.
  • In a 1982 episode of the TV show Laverne & Shirley entitled "The Playboy Show", guest-starring Carrie Fisher, Laverne takes a job as a Playboy Bunny at The Playboy Club despite her father's wishes.[40]
  • The 1985 TV movie A Bunny's Tale, starring Kirstie Alley, was based on writer and future feminist leader Gloria Steinem's 1963 article for Huntington Hartford's Show magazine, a critical account of her time working as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club.
  • The TV movie Hefner: Unauthorized (1999) includes leotard-wearing women being trained as hostesses in a Playboy Club.[41]
  • The 2000 TV movie, A Tale of Two Bunnies (aka Price of Beauty) starring Marina Black and Julie Condra, tells the story of two girls working as Playboy Bunnies in 1961.[42]
  • In season one, episode two of the TV show Swingtown, first aired in 2008, the characters visit the Playboy Club.
  • In a 2010 episode of the TV show Mad Men (season 4, episode 10 "Hands and Knees"), Lane Pryce (who is a member) takes his father and Don Draper to dinner at the Playboy Club in New York City and introduces them to his "chocolate bunny" girlfriend, Toni.
  • September 2011 saw the premiere of NBC's The Playboy Club, a television series focusing on the employees and patrons of the first Playboy Club, located in Chicago. The series was cancelled after airing three episodes.[43]


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  2. ^ "Playboy Bunnies Land in Macau". The Wall Street Journal. November 22, 2010.
  3. ^ "Playboy Club Cancun Brings Exciting Nightlife and Gaming to One of the World's Most Popular Travel Destinations" (Press release). Chicago. PR Newswire. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. June 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Wilson Ng (2 October 2013). "Playboy Club Sands Macao has closed down". Places and Foods. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Phil (30 April 2014). "Mexican Ministry closes six casinos including Playboy Cancun". G3 Newswire. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Cancun Casino - Review of Playboy Casino Cancun, Cancun, Mexico - TripAdvisor". Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Lucky Rabbit Party Pit Playboy Poker Room". The Commerce Casino. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  10. ^ "NYC Playboy Club bunnies to hang up tails and ears after just one year". 14 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Last three Playboy Clubs close". UPI Archives. 30 June 1986.
  12. ^ "Detroit Free Press 28 Dec 1963, page Page 3".
  13. ^ "Detroit Free Press 26 Oct 1972, page Page 29".
  14. ^ "IMG_8534". Playboy Online Museum. 15 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Playboy Club 40th Anniversary Celebration". 1960-02-29. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  16. ^ "Luxury Hotels Mayfair, 45 Park Lane, Hotels Hyde Park London". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  17. ^ "Hugh Hefner connection to Wisconsin: Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel". 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  18. ^ TATGE-ROZELL, JILL. ""A different time:" Hundreds attend Lake Geneva Playboy Club 50th anniversary celebration". Kenosha News. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  19. ^ "A History of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa". Experience Wisconsin. 2016-09-01. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  20. ^ "Sam Distefano, Talent Exec for Hugh Hefner and Meshulam Riklis, Dies at 88". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  21. ^ "Playboy is back in the nightclub business". NBC News. The Associated Press. 1 October 2006.
  22. ^ "Playboy Club at Las Vegas' Palms Casino Closes". USA Today. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  23. ^ "Playboy Club Sands Macao Bunny Auditions In Sydney".
  24. ^ "New Playboy club to open in London". The Daily Telegraph. October 19, 2010.
  25. ^ Milton Bayer. "Exclusive Members' Club with Casino, Cocktails, Playboy Bunny Hosts and more". Playboy Club London. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  26. ^ "Playboy bounces back into London". UK Construction magazine. 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Playboy Club London – The Bunny Ears return". The Handbook. May 12, 2011.
  28. ^ "India to get First Playboy Club in Goa". BBC News. November 1, 2012.
  29. ^ "Playboy's first India club rejected in Goa". BBC News. April 16, 2013.
  30. ^ "Playboy denied licence to open beach club in India's party state of Goa". The Guardian. Associated Press. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  31. ^ Vasant, Khushita (November 2, 2012). "Bunny Hop: Playboy Comes to India". Wall Street Journal.
  32. ^ "India gets ready for first Playboy club, with bunnies". NDTV. November 1, 2012.
  33. ^ "India Gets Ready for First Playboy Club". CNN. December 21, 2012.
  34. ^ Thompson, Kara (13 September 2018). "Hugh Hefner's Legendary Playboy Club Has Reopened in New York". Town and Country.
  35. ^ Vianna, Carla (12 September 2018). "Playboy Club Is Back And Sounds Just as Ridiculous as Ever". New York Eater.
  36. ^ Eichner, Sam (14 September 2018). "NYC's Playboy Club Is Reborn in the #MeToo Era, Bunnies and All". The Daily Beast.
  37. ^ Gabbatt, Adam (10 September 2018). "'Tone deaf' Playboy Club opens in New York, defying the #MeToo era". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Weiss, Lois (14 November 2019). "NYC Playboy Club bunnies to hang up tails and ears after just one year". New York Post.
  39. ^ Weiss, Lois (14 November 2019). "NYC Playboy Club bunnies to hang up tails and ears after just one year". New York Post.
  40. ^ "The Playboy Show" at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  41. ^ "Hefner:Unauthorized" at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  42. ^ Parish-Perkins, Ken (2000-03-20). "Monday Best Bets". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 12D. Retrieved 2024-05-29 – via
  43. ^ "The Playboy Club". NBC. NBC. Retrieved 9 October 2014.

External links[edit]