Playboy Club

The Playboy Club was initially a chain of nightclubs and resorts owned and operated by Playboy Enterprises. The first club opened at 116 E. Walton Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, United States, on February 29, 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. On October 6, 2006 a new club was opened in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino Resort,[1] and in 2010 new clubs were opened as well in Macao[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]

Playboy Club
FoundedFebruary 29, 1960 (1960-02-29)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
FounderHugh Hefner
United States
ParentPlayboy Enterprises

On September 12, 2018 a new Playboy Club was opened in Midtown Manhattan at 512 West 42nd Street, New York City.[10] [11] Many questioned the wisdom of opening a Playboy Club in the era of #Me Too.[12] [13] On November 14, 2019, after just over one year in operation, the owners of the club announced the club had closed and the space would be re-branded as a steak house and other entertainment venue.[14]


The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960, and later there were clubs in Miami, New Orleans, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, Des Moines, Kansas City, Phoenix, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Dallas, Buffalo, St. Petersburg, FL, Lansing, San Diego, Columbus, Lake Geneva, WI, Omaha and St. Louis. There was also a Playboy Club in Canada, in Montreal. 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 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)[15] was required for admission to a club.[16] They were presented to the Door Bunny. Through most of the years, a strict dress code was enforced.

In 1965, Hugh Hefner sent Victor Lownes to London to open Playboy's British casinos, following legalization of gambling in the United Kingdom. In 1981, the casino at 45 Park Lane (now a luxury hotel, 45 Park Lane) was the most profitable casino in the world,[17] 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. 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 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin featured architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright[18], operated from May 1968 until 1981, had a ski slope, and was one of the first to install a chair lift.[19] The facility is now operated as the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.[20] Its "Playmate Bar" featured the Russ Long Trio and its showroom was managed by Carlo Cicirello. The 32-piece house orchestra was headed by Chicago pianist, Sam Distefano, who also conducted for such artists as Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Anthony Newley, Tony Bennett, 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 Club after 25 years.[21] The Lighter Side Trio entertained at all of the Playboy Clubs from 1972 to 1975, led by Joe DiPietro, with Douglas Brett and Charles Raimond.

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.[22] The club closed in June 2012.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25][26] The 17,000 sq ft property, spread over two floors, was designed by London-based architects Jestico + Whiles.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29] In April 2013, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar refused the application on "technical grounds".[30] Parrikar said only individuals, not corporations, were eligible to operate a beach shack style club. The law did not preclude opening a night club.[31] After the Goa club, PB Lifestyle planned to open clubs in Hyderabad and Mumbai.[32] India's obscenity laws ban material deemed "lascivious or appealing to prurient interests".[33] 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.[34] 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 new Playboy Club was opened in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[35] On November 14, 2019, after just over one year in business, the owners of the Playboy Club announced the club had closed.[36]

  • 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.[37]
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • The film, Hefner: An Unauthorized Biography, includes leotard-wearing women being trained as hostesses in a Playboy Club.[38]
  • In 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.
  • In season one, episode two of Swingtown, the characters visit the Playboy Club.
  • 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. A competitive 10:00 PM Monday slot contributed to low ratings and led to the show's cancellation on October 4, 2011.[39]
  • The December 2015 Novel Series Rude Boy USA[40]features an African American bunny, Celia Jones who works at the New York Club in 1969 and later joins a mob group. She later on takes on the moniker "Bunny" as her official Mob name in the series.
  • In the popular video game Grand Theft Auto V, players can find the playboy mansion on the outskirts of the city. It looks identical to the real life counterpart. It also includes the tennis courts and the famous grotto.

See also


  1. "Playboy Club Las Vegas". Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  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.
  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.
  16. "Playboy Club 40th Anniversary Celebration". 1960-02-29. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  17. "Luxury Hotels Mayfair, 45 Park Lane, Hotels Hyde Park London". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  18. "Hugh Hefner connection to Wisconsin: Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel". 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  19., JILL TATGE-ROZELL. ""A different time:" Hundreds attend Lake Geneva Playboy Club 50th anniversary celebration". Kenosha News. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  20. "A History of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa". Experience Wisconsin. 2016-09-01. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  21. "Sam Distefano, Talent Exec for Hugh Hefner and Meshulam Riklis, Dies at 88". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  22. "Playboy Club Opens in Las Vegas".
  23. "Playboy Club at Las Vegas' Palms Casino Closes". USA Today. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  24. "Playboy Club Sands Macao Bunny Auditions In Sydney".
  25. "New Playboy club to open in London". The Daily Telegraph. October 19, 2010.
  26. Milton Bayer. "Exclusive Members' Club with Casino, Cocktails, Playboy Bunny Hosts and more". Playboy Club London. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  27. "Playboy bounces back into London". UK Construction magazine. 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011.
  28. "Playboy Club London – The Bunny Ears return". The Handbook. May 12, 2011.
  29. "India to get First Playboy Club in Goa". BBC News. November 1, 2012.
  30. "Playboy's first India club rejected in Goa". BBC News. April 16, 2013.
  31. "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.
  32. Vasant, Khushita (November 2, 2012). "Bunny Hop: Playboy Comes to India". Wall Street Journal.
  33. "India gets ready for first Playboy club, with bunnies". NDTV. November 1, 2012.
  34. "India Gets Ready for First Playboy Club". CNN. December 21, 2012.
  37. "The Playboy Show" on IMDb
  38. "Hefner:Unauthorized" on IMDb
  39. "The Playboy Club". NBC. NBC. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  40. Rude Boy USA
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