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Friday, June 3, 2011

Does Britain really need a new Playboy club? Hugh Hefner touches down with his bunnygirls

By Anna Edwards

Some things never change: Hugh Hefner is surrounded by bunnygirls as he touches down at Stansted

Thirty years after the Playboy Club closed in Mayfair, Hugh Hefner is back, and clearly believes that Britain is ready for a return to the hedonism of the Sixties.

In the distinctly unglamorous surroundings of Stansted Airport, the 85-year-old mogul was, as ever, surrounded by bunnygirls as he arrived in the UK to launch the new Playboy Club in London.

But, as the bunnies hung on to their costumes on the chilly windswept runway, there were many wondering if perhaps the whole idea is a throwback too far.

Not such glamorous surroundings: The girls braved the English weather on the windswept tarmac

For those who are interested (and with enough cash) the club, which opens tomorrow in Old Park Lane, brands itself an 'adult's playground'.

In an effort to regain the decadent sheen Playboy had when Hefner launched it in 1960, the club is replete with gaming rooms, restaurants and the obligatory Cottontail
Lounge, designed for the 'louche and mysterious' who will be waited on by cocktail waitresses in bunny costumes.

Guests can also wander around a restaurant, barbershop and terrace.

According to its website, it boasts gaming rooms dedicated to a an 'exciting contemporary casino', roulette machines, poker games and slot machines.

Retro rabbits: The bunnygirls are a return to the decadence of the Sixties

Keep smiling: The bunnies brave the cold and hang on to their costumes

But its opening tomorrow is likely to be greeted by another throwback to the Sixties, protests by feminist groups who have launched a campaign called Eff Off Hef.

Anna van Heeswijk, campaigns manager for one of the groups, Object, said: 'The Playboy Club degrades women as fluffy animals who are marketed as sexual playthings for wealthy men.

'There's nothing classy and sophisticated about sexualising and objectifying women as bunny rabbits.

'It is not sexual liberation to serve men when you’re dressed in bunny ears and a fluffy tail. It’s the sexual fantasy of an 85-year-old man.'

Kat Banyard, director of another group involved in the protest, UK Feminista, said: 'When it comes to today’s pornography industry all roads lead back to Playboy.'

That's one way to get the customer's attention: Playboy bunnies in the original club in Park Lane

The way it was: Hugh Hefner with bunnies at the Playboy Club in the Sixties



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