New Playboy club to open

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

When Hugh Hefner announced back in the early sixties that his Playboy bunnies were coming to London, there were howls of derision from some detractors who prophesied that Britain would never fall for the fluffy-tailed hostesses in the way that America had.



How wrong they were. For much of the late 1960s the Playboy Club London was one of the hottest venues in the most swinging city of the time with regular patrons such as Michael Caine, George Best, Jack Nicholson and Muhammad Ali.



Now, more than 29 years after the original club’s closure following a police raid, the bunnies are returning to London as the Playboy empire begins a newfound love affair with casinos.



Mr Hefner, who even at the age of 88 is still rarely seen without his coterie of pneumatic platinum blondes, announced today that Playboy Entertainment had teamed up with London Clubs International to open a new club in the heart of Mayfair by next spring.



The club, which already has planning permission and will be staffed by a new generation of bunny waitresses and croupiers, will replace LCI’s Rendezvous Casino, one of ten casinos owned by the group in Britain.



The Independent understands that the club’s owners want the venue to become a place that replicates the exclusivity of the original club. They are working on an entry policy which will mean that even the capital’s freebie-hungry phalanx of celebrities will have to apply for membership like everyone else.



“It will be high end, exclusive and discreet,” said a source with knowledge of the plans. “We’re not trying to replicate the 1960s – the club is opening in 2011 after all. It’ll be the best of the 1960s with a modern twist.”



The casino will also hire some of the original London bunnies to teach the new generations some of the signature moves required of Playboy’s hostesses such as the “Bunny Dip”, a way of bending over to serve drinks without spilling out of the trademark bunny corset.



The move represents something of a full circle journey for the Playboy group which began by making millions from gambling, only to abandon casinos in the 1980s in favour of its magazine and video businesses.



Twenty years later those revenue streams dried up significantly thanks to the internet and the group has moved back towards the world of entertainment with renewed vigour.



Four years ago Mr Hefner reopened his first new Playboy themed casino in Las Vegas which until now has remained the only Playboy Club in the world. But the next two years should see a flurry of new casinos in London, Macau, Cancun and Miami.



"When we first opened the Playboy Club in London it was one of my favourite times for the brand,” Mr Hefner said yesterday following the announcement. “I look forward to our return to London and again sharing the notions that are celebrated in the magazine, the concept of good food and drink, pretty girls, and exciting entertainment.”



Rumours that “the Hef’s” empire was planning a London come back have circulated in the media for much of the past decade. But other than one tentative deal which was abandoned in the early stages four years ago there had been little substance to the rumours.



If the group can recapture anything like the style of the original club it would be a remarkable comeback. Britain’s Playboy clubs – there were once offshoots in Portsmouth and Manchester – were overseen by the indomitable Victor Lownes, one of the few Playboy executives who could match Mr Hefner for living the kind of lifestyle the magazine espoused.

He regularly graced the tabloids and gossip columns and often claimed to be Britain’s highest paid executive.



Throughout the late 1970s public opinion began to turn against casinos and Playboy’s clubs began to be investigated by the police. The London club was raided by officers in 1981 but police brought no charges. Nonetheless Playboy decided to get out of the gambling business and sold all its clubs.



In an interview two years ago Lownes reminisced about his time in charge of the London club. “It was a huge success and ran like a dream,” he said. “We had a discotheque in the basement, several restaurants, a VIP room and a casino with roulette and blackjack. The average bunny lasted two years and then married a millionaire.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?