The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960, and subsequently in New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Kansas City and elsewhere. There were Playboy Club resorts in Jamaica, New Jersey and elsewhere. The clubs offer cocktail bars, with Playboy Bunnies serving drinks and food, and live performances. Owning a Playboy Club membership became a status symbol, even though only 21% of all key holders ever went to a club. At $25.00 per year per membership, Playboy earned $25 million for every 1,000,000 members. This revenue stream was critical to the development of the Playboy empire.
The first Playboy Club in London opened in 1965, following legalization of gambling in the United Kingdom. The club on Park Lane was also the first Playboy Club in Europe.
English girls were flown to America to train as Playboy bunnies - waitresses and croupiers - in preparation for the London opening.
It is believed that Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, was inspired to open drinking and gambling clubs with women dressed in velvet, after he visited the chain of Gaslight Clubs in Chicago.
London's Playboy club soon became a regular haunt for the rich and famous including, above, Frank Sinatra.
French actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Bond girl Ursula Andress and American actor James Garner enjoying a bite to eat at the London Playboy club.
The presence of influential critic and writer, Kenneth Tynan, shows that intellectuals also made themselves at home in the club.
Live performance by Woody Allen at London's Playboy Club
In 1972, some of the Bunny Girl waitresses at the London Playboy Club recorded an album as the 'Singing Bunnies'.
However, it was not all singing and dancing. In 1974, Bunny girls at the club went on strike because they wanted management to recognise them as members of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
The London Playboy club closed in 1981 after its gambling licence was not renewed.
The Playboy Club will return to London on Saturday, 30 years after the original closed. New croupier bunnies all received intensive training over 11 weeks and the bunny outfits, specially fitted for each girl, were given a modern twist by the Marchesa fashion house.
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