Playboy club returns to London, some hopping mad

Fri Jun 3, 2011 12:20pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Hugh Hefner opens a new Playboy club in London's swanky Mayfair district on Saturday after an absence of 30 years, and the imminent return of the "bunny girls" has some feminist groups and commentators hopping mad.

The 85-year-old entrepreneur is in London to launch the new venue, where life membership costs 15,000 pounds ($25,000) and a single "Sazerac" cocktail will set a member back 2,000 pounds.

He expects a mixed welcome at the plush new club at its official launch, with up to 200 feminist protesters promising to make their objections felt under the banner "Eff Off Hefner!."

Inside, young women dressed in the famous Playboy rabbit ears, collars, cuffs and skimpy corsets will offer him and his guests champagne and deal cards at the gambling tables that will be the key economic ingredient to the venture.

For Hefner, flanked by his 25-year-old fiancee Crystal Harris during an interview with Reuters, the opening will be a nostalgic return to the 60s and 70s when the hugely successful London club bankrolled much of his magazine empire.

"The club I think that most of us remember, certainly on an international level, with the greatest fondness, the most iconic of the clubs, was London," he said.

"So with the return of the bunnies, which began five or six years ago in Vegas ... London becomes really key to all that. It represents not only the future, it represents the iconic past."

The famous London Playboy club closed in 1981 after its gaming license was revoked, although by then the A-list glamour had faded and the venues were on the decline around the globe.   Continued...

 
<p>Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner smiles at the news conference for the upcoming Playboy Jazz Festival, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>