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A Playboy Club was originally one of a chain of nightclubs owned and operated by Playboy Enterprises until 1991, with the first club opening at 116 E. Walton in downtown Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker on February 29, 1960. The clubs were essentially bars with entertainment, featuring Playboy Bunnies serving drinks to keyholders, and performances by some big names in entertainment. There is now only one Playboy Club, in The Palmsmarker Hotel & Casino in Las Vegasmarker.

Hugh Hefner opened his first Playboy Club in 1960. He was inspired by Burton Brown's Chicago chain of Gaslight Clubs. The Gaslight Clubs opened in 1953, featuring women dressed in velvet, one-piece "bunny" type costumes, and had live entertainment.

History

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960. The last American location was Lansing, Michiganlocatedmarker in the Hilton Hotel. It closed in 1988. International Clubs existed until the 1991 closing of the Manilamarker, Philippinesmarker located in he Silihas International Hotel. 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 membership, Playboy earned $25 million for every 1,000,000 members. This revenue stream was critical to the development of the Playboy empire.

In 1965 Hugh Hefner sent Victor Lownes to Londonmarker to open Playboy's British casinos, following legalization of gambling in the United Kingdom. Gaming income from these casinos enabled Playboy to continue throwing money at financially disastrous clubs, theaters, resorts, record companies and film investments. The magazine's income was modest compared to that from these casinos. In 1981 the casino at 45 Park Lane was the most profitable casino in the world and the British casinos contributed $32 million to the corporation. Playboy showed a total profit of $31 million that year, meaning the rest of the empire made a net loss of $1 million. However, in that year Victor Lownes was fired, and gambling licenses were not renewed, thereby cutting off Playboy's biggest source of income and creating a financial crisis that would only be solved by enormous changes within the empire.

The Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsinmarker had a ski slope and was one of the first to install a chair lift.

Playboy recently opened a new Playboy Club in Las Vegas, Nevadamarker. The new club at The Palmsmarker, with its very noticeable neon bunny head, has casinos, bars, and a restroom with pictures of Playmates on the walls.

Famous acts

Famous entertainers who performed at the clubs include:

Playboy Clubs in popular culture

  • The film Hefner; an Unauthorized Biography largely focuses on leotard-wearing women being trained as hostesses in a Playboy Club.
  • In the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, it is revealed that Bond is a member of the London Playboy Club.
  • A Trivial Pursuit question asked, "Which country still had four Playboy Clubs in operation after the last one closed down in the United States?" Answer: Japan.
  • In the That '70s Show episode 'Eric's Burger Job', Donna's parents go to the Playboy Club at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, The character Michael Kelso, played by Ashton Kutcher leaves Point Place, Wisconsin to work in the Playboy club in Chicago.
  • In season one, episode two of Swingtown the characters visit the Playboy Club.


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