Playboy turns 50 with Bunny-inspired art

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The Independent Culture

In 1960, Hugh Hefner opened the first Playboy Club in Chicago, Illinios, beginning the expansion of the Playboy lifestyle, established through Playboy magazine. To celebrate this 50th anniversary, Playboy Enterprises will throw a big worldwide party, open two new clubs, and kick off the year-long festivities with an art exhibit in honor of its iconic Playboy Bunny.

Appropriately, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will mount the show, including Warhol's 1985 "Playboy Bunny" painting, March 27-June 19.

The exhibit titled Playboy Redux: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Iconic Playboy Bunny includes works by more than 20 contemporary and street artists commissioned by the museum and Playboy to do a makeover for the Bunny of the future.

In a variety of media from photography and painting to sculpture, illustration and video, the new looks are created by artists Gary Baseman, Scott Anderson, Jeremy Kost, Tara McPherson, Kalup Linzy, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Chitra Ganesh, Ludovica Gioscia, Yumiko Kayukawa, Hiroki Otsuka, Vadis Turner, Saya Woolfalk, O Zhang, and more.

The opening celebration is a "Playboy Pajama Party" from 9 to 11:45 pm, which will emulate the famous Playboy Mansion events. Other events will be scheduled during the run of the show.

Known for her satin bunny suit, cotton tail, collar, cuffs, and rabbit ears, the Playboy Bunny's getup was patterned after the company's tuxedo-clad rabbit mascot. The waitresses served cocktails at clubs through 1988.

Former Bunnies included Deborah Harry (singer Blondie), model/actress Lauren Hutton, Monty Python comedian Carol Cleveland, and feminist author Gloria Steinem, who became part of the circle working as an undercover journalist for a 1983 book.

Though the Playboy Bunny went out of favor, the reopened Playboy Club at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas in 2006 resurrected the Bunny with a new uniform designed by Roberto Cavalli.