Stars of the Playboy Club

Some fun facts about the Playboy Clubs

Playboy Club on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood California

Playboy Club on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood California

Each Playboy Club had a Bunny Mother to both advise the ladies and enforce the rules laid out in the Bunny Manual.

The Bunny Manual dictated all Bunny behavior; the stance they must take when smoking (one small puff at a time, the cigarette then resting in the ashtray, not the hand), how they could sit (on the back of a chair or resting a hip on a banister; this was known as the Bunny Perch), how they could stand (the Bunny Stance: one foot behind the other, hips squared), and how they could address members (“Smile and introduce yourself with the standard Bunny Introduction: ‘Good evening, I am your Bunny _ (name). May I see the Playboy key, please?’ … Never express your request for a key-holder’s order in a crude and trite phrase such as ‘What’ll you have?’”)

A few famous Bunnies include; model Lauren Hutton, actress Barbara Bossom, musician and lead singer of Blondie, Debbie Harry, Gloria Steinem, and actress Susan Sullivan.

In 1981, the London Playboy Club and Casino at 45 Park Lane, was the most profitable casino in the world.

Hugh Hefner initially rejected the idea of Bunnies and the Bunny outfit. He envisioned customers served by women wearing corsets.

For most of the 60s and 70s the Playboy Clubs were the largest employers of entertainment in the US.

The Playboy Bunny outfit was the first service uniform registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. Trademark registration number 0762884)

Bunnies could be fired for breaking the club’s strict non-fraternization rules.

‘Great opportunity for the 30 most beautiful girls in Chicagoland’ read the ad for the first Bunnies.

Owning a Playboy membership was a genuine status symbol in the 60s.

Early entertainers in the first Playboy Club included before-they –were-famous Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand.

In 1968, business was hopping at the Playboy Club w/Diahann Carroll as the headliner.

A Playboy Club membership was marketed as an everyday means to bring the Playboy magazine to life. At the height of the clubs popularity an information packet was given to each new member (and prospective member) enticingly proclaiming: “Step into the Playroom”—one of the multi-leveled club’s different areas—“and the wonderful world of Playboy is yours! Against a background of brilliant, illuminated covers from Playboy, the joie de vivre depicted within the world-famous magazine’s pages comes to life.”

The opening night crowd for the London Playboy Club, in 1966, was as famous and attractive, as one could image: Julie Christie, Ursula Andress, Roman Polanski, Michelangelo Antonioni, Sidney Poitier, Laurence Harvey, Peter Sellers, David Frost, Peter Cook, Kenneth Tynan, Rudolf Nureyev, Woody Allen, Lee Radziwill, and many, many others.

 

Pre-Order your copy of Playboy Swings before the September 14 release by going to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com

 


 

Playboy Magazine – First Issue – Available December 1953

Playboy Magazine - First Issue Available December 1953

Playboy Magazine – First Issue
Available December 1953

 

Playboy’s first issue went on sale in December 1953, selling 54,175 copies at 50 cents each. The maiden magazine contained 44 pages.

The magazine’s original name was Stag Party, and instead of a rabbit, its mascot was a buck. Hugh Hefner changed the name to Playboy at a friend’s suggestion after the name Stag Party was challenged in a trademark infringement case.

The first edition featured a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that Hefner bought from a local calendar printer, as well as a Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Playboy is still the largest “men’s magazine,” selling over 2.6 million a month in the U.S.

 

You can still pre-order your copy of Playboy Swings available in September by clicking here

 


 

Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty - June 12, 2010, during the 32nd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Trombone Shorty – June 12, 2010, during the 32nd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

 

In 2010, 
23 year-old trombonist/trumpet phenomenon ‘Trombone Shorty’ and his group Orleans Avenue, brought the Playboy Jazz Festival crowd to its feet and had everyone dancing in the aisles to the ‘SupaFunk Rock’ sounds of the Crescent City in a triumphant debut performance that showcased the virtuosity and star power that has made him one of today’s hottest up and coming stars.

Read more about ‘Trombone Shorty’ and other great artists who have performed on the Playboy Stage in my latest book, Playboy Swings, due out this September, available for pre-order now…  Just click on the links:

logoBarnesAndNoble amazon-96

 

 


 

Buddy Guy returns to the Playboy Jazz Festival (2011)

Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy

Grammy-winning guitar legend and Festival favorite Buddy Guy returned to the Playboy Stage in 2011, for yet another rousing performance. A member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame known for his raucous Chicago style blues, Guy rocked the house with his electrifying guitar prowess, solidifying his status as a legend in his own time. But the highlight of the set came when Guy introduced his protégé, 12 year-old guitar phenomenon, Quinn Sullivan. Trading licks with Guy, young Sullivan wowed the crowd with his astounding playing winning a standing ovation.

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

The Roots

The Roots

The Roots

 

In 2011, fresh off their three Grammy wins, The Roots, best known as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, made their highly anticipated Playboy Festival debut, bringing their eclectic brand of jazz and hip-hop to the show. Their fiery performance was a hit with critics and fans alike and had festival goers dancing in the aisles and screaming for more. Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, a straight ahead jazz artist, joined the group onstage as a special guest during their performance. His new Afro-fusion style was a natural fit with the group’s music.

 

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

Christian McBride and his band surprise audience and master of ceremonies Bill Cosby at Playboy Jazz Festival

Bill Cosby sitting in during the Playboy Jazz Festival his final year as the Master of Ceremony.

Bill Cosby sitting in during the Playboy Jazz Festival his final year as the Master of Ceremony.

Fresh off his 2012 Grammy win, bass virtuoso Christian McBride and his band surprised the audience and longtime master of ceremonies Bill Cosby at the Playboy Jazz Festival, by inviting him to sit-in onstage with the group. The band played the well-known theme song (“Hikky Burr”) to the ever-popular Bill Cosby Show as a tribute to the legendary entertainer in honor of his last Festival appearance. Dancing and playing with the band onstage, he and the audience clearly enjoyed the surprise honor.

 

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

 

SHEILA E. makes her Playboy Jazz Festival debut!

Sheila E. - Belle Of St Mark

Sheila E. – Belle Of St Mark

 

SHEILA E. made her Playboy Jazz Festival debut in 2012 and electrified the crowd with a performance that won her a standing ovation. Sheila debuted as the leader of her own band, and tore it up with an galvanizing performance that featured many of her hits along with a retinue of sequined bikini-clad Brazilian dancers that strutted on to the stage in vibrantly colored full-feathered headdresses. Her fiery performance stopped the show and brought the crowd to its feet for one of the longest standing ovations ever seen at the Festival, leaving no doubt Sheila E. is a star in her own right. It’s still “A Glamorous Life”.

 

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

Back by popular demand, Patty Farmer and Lainie Kazan.

Big Barda Miracle 4-16 by Lainie Kazan

Big Barda Miracle 4-16 by Lainie Kazan

Lainie Kazan may be the only woman who launched a business career by posing in the all-together for Playboy magazine!  By 1970, she was a headliner who had already had a vast experience in a wide range of entertainment media – from three shows on Broadway (The Happiest Girl in the World, Bravo Giovanni, and Funny Girl), starred in nightclubs (like the Persian Room), had recorded five long-playing albums of her own, and starred on top-rated TV variety series like The Ed Sullivan Show and the Dean Martin Show;  in fact, in her December 1968 Sunday night appearance (in which she sang her famous Judy Garland medley of “The Trolley Song” and “Gotta Have Me Go with You”), Ed Sullivan took a particular delight in telling his vast audience that her father was Russian and her mother was Turkish (both parents were Jewish).  Lainie herself was not only exotic, but as many observers have pointed out, whether on TV, in a club, an album, or even in a photo, she always seemed a little bit dangerous.

Lainie Smiles

Lainie Smiles

Lainie launched a long relationship with Playboy enterprises when she posed nude in the October 1970 issue of the magazine; the result of a photo session that transpired in the illustrious Plaza Hotel—Lainie performed at the hotel’s legendary Persian Room as well as living at the hotel.  (In the tradition of the time, there was no full-frontal nudity yet, but she wasn’t hiding much.) That one particular modeling job would launch a vast cause-and-effect. It cemented her ongoing, very productive collaboration with the Playboy brand – as she told us, within five years, she would be the only artist – impresario  to open her own room-within-a-room in the Playboy Club circuit – that happened when “Lainie’s Room” opened in the Los Angeles Playboy in 1975 and then again in the New York club a few seasons later.

lainie kazan body & soul

Another collateral benefit was for comic book readers and fans of the superhero auteur Jack Kirby; not long before, the widely-praised artist and writer had switched allegiances from his long-standing job at Marvel comics (where he had played a key role in the creation of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, and dozens of other iconic creations) to the company’s arch-competitor, DC comics. His most dramatic creation was a whole universe of new characters, which he called “The Fourth World,” at the centerpiece of which was a “super group” he called the New Gods. The first of these New Gods to star in his own title was “Mister Miracle” (aka “Scott Free”) and in issue four of that series, Mister Miracle’s love interest was introduced; rather than a demure gal Friday like Superman’s Lois Lane, the new girl god on the block was “Big Barda,” a highly imposing six feet of both pure muscle and sheer sex appeal.  She went around pummeling bad guys in Asgard-ian like body armor, but Kirby went out of his way, in her first two appearances (Mister Miracle #4 October 1971 and #5 November-December 1971) to show her in a bikini-like get up as well.  It was no surprise to anyone when Kirby eventually admitted that he was a Playboy reader and the physical image of Big Barda was directly based on Lainie’s image from the October 1970 issue.

Liza Minnelli with Husband and Lainie Kazan

Liza Minnelli with her husband and Lainie Kazan

Thus the image of herself in the buff would have vast consequences and many rewards for Lainie. But, ironically, those rewards were not monetary – at least not immediately so.  Lainie told us that it simply never occurred to her to ask for any kind of payment for her services in posing.  To be honest, that doesn’t sound like the Lainie we know, but then of course, we didn’t know her back then.  From the looks of those images – both in Playboy and Mister Miracle – we wish that we had!

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You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

Lonnie Shorr

Lonnie Shorr

Lonnie Shorr

 

The southern comedian, Lonnie Shorr—whose delivery has often been compared in the tradition of Will Rodgers—worked the Playboy circuit for two straight years. He told us, “I’m glad I did! It was a great learning experience and an opportunity to perfect your act —although you never really reach perfection.

 

“I found my niche working for Playboy because you did so many shows for them. It was a ‘floating‘ schedule because usually you did two shows a night. But if the last show had an attendance of fifteen percent of the room capacity, you had to do another show! In other words, if the room sat a hundred people and you had fifteen people in the audience—you did another show. So theoretically, you could be doing a lot of shows!

 

Lonnie Short and Juliet Prowse

Lonnie Short and Juliet Prowse

 

“One thing about Playboy that was different from the way things are today is that you couldn’t use four letter words. Nobody did that. If you did, you had an unfavorable report written about you. This report was sent to the company headquarters in Chicago, and if you received too many bad write-ups you were dropped from the circuit, and no one wanted that. There were guys that were a little suggestive, but no cursing.

 

“The Playboy Clubs were one of the few places we worked that had standards, very high standards for everyone—the staff, the Bunnies, and the entertainers. The other day, I had a guy from one of our local newspapers ask me about the entertainment scene today, and I told him I thought that the  Playboy principle of entertainment was what they needed today in some of these other clubs.

 

The Playboy Clubs always had two acts—once in awhile they’d have three acts in the bigger clubs. It was a place where you could go and see a show and, at that time the prices were really nominal –then you could go downstairs and listen to some music while actually talking to the person you were with. That’s the kind of place we could use nowadays.”

 

Lonnie Shorr

Lonnie Shorr

 

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents

 


 

Duke Hazlett

Duke Hazlett as Bing Crosby

Duke Hazlett as Bing Crosby

Duke began his career as a Sinatra tribute artist at the Le Bistro in Atlantic City. He told me that when he sang there, the club would put a sign outside saying “If you like Sinatra, you’ll love Duke.” Sinatra also played in Atlantic City, but when he did, it was next door at the 500 Club and he’d often quip to his audiences, “If you like Duke, you’ll go cuckoo over me.” Duke continued, “Frank, on occasions when we’d meet was always nice to me and would kid me by saying, ‘Just remember, I’m still the Chairman of the Board—but you can be the Vice-Chairman.’”

Dukes voice wasn’t the only similarity to the famous Rat-packer; he was also synonymous in appearance. And he was so convincing and his performance such pure fun that he was invited as a guest on the most popular variety shows, including The Steve Allen Show and Jack Parr Show. He was also induced to take part in an entertaining subterfuge. As Duke tells it: “I was working at a club in Chicago and Hef [Hugh Hefner] would come to see me because he was a Sinatra fan. Well, this one night he told me that he had been looking forward to having Sinatra perform at his upcoming Jazz Festival, but Frank’s plan changed and he couldn’t make it. However, he had an alternative that he needed help with. He wanted me to appear and do a few of the songs I usually did in my show. I told him I’d be overjoyed to do it just because it sounded like so much fun!

“The night came—August, 1959. The search lights were crossing in the sky as I walked down the aisle with a brigade of twelve police officers escorting me to the stage. I had a trench coat flung over my shoulder and a straw hat with a white band cocked on my head. As soon as I hit the stage, Count Basie’s Band started up and I swung into “Come Fly With Me”—and the crowd went wild, just wild! I received a standinDuke Hazlett

g ovation and Mort Sahl—the MC—introduced me afterwards by my real name, saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Duke Hazlett.’ But people hear what they want, and the next day one of the Chicago newspapers reported that Frank Sinatra had appeared at the Playboy Jazz Festival and did a fantastic job! I’ve appeared since at many prestigious clubs and engagements and been on some wonderful shows, but that’s the one time I relive over and over.”

After waiting this famous clip from the Steve Allen Show let me know if you would have been fooled into thinking you just saw Frank Sinatra at the first Playboy Jazz Festival in 1959.

 

You can read more stories in my books Playboy Swings and The Persian Room Presents