At some point in the 1970s, probably just a couple of years before I was born, my parents and some of their friends visited the Playboy Club on East 59th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. I know this because of the Playboy swizzle sticks stored in a kitchen cabinet during my childhood, which I loved to play with, but also because my mother loved recounting their visit to the club. She especially delighted in imitating how my father’s eyes nearly popped out of his head whenever a Playboy Bunny sauntered by, or served them drinks and dinner.
To the best of my knowledge my father never had a secret stash of Playboy magazines in the house (if he did, I never found them), but I suppose even a nice, mild mannered fella like him might’ve succumbed to gawking at the Playboy Club. Just take a look at these ads and magazine pieces, which breathlessly declare that going to a Playboy Club was akin to stepping into a private world, a veritable Disneyland for adults. Like the magazine that spawned them, the Playboy Clubs sold a certain type of lifestyle. Let’s call it the wine, women, and song lifestyle—swanky, swingin’ clubs full of smiling Bunnies bending at the knees and reaching backward to hand you a drink. This maneuver—which was the required way for Bunnies to serve customers—was known as “the Bunny Dip.”
The dramatic Bea Arthur-style eye roll my mother probably unleashed when my father was mesmerized by the Bunny Dip would’ve been legendary to see. I only wish I had thought to snag my folks’ small collection of Playboy Club swizzle sticks at some point. They disappeared years ago, but my mother still never tires of telling the story of the night they got them.
3 thoughts on “The Art of the Ad: The Playboy Club”
I remember growing up around my father’s Playboy and Penthouse magazines. He was a Hugh Hefner like bachelor, lounging about in his robe while his beautiful girlfriends braided my hair as we watched The Monkees. I really wouldn’t change a thing about it.
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That’s an amazing memory!