Playboy gambles for London return

July 13th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Hugh Hefner
By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 13 (IANS) Playboy bunnies may return to London for the first time since the swinging sixties, if Hugh Hefner gets his wish to re-open the Playboy Club in the capital. The club could re-open in 2010 to offer gaming at roulette wheels and blackjack tables. Guests will dine on everything from hamburgers to haute cuisine and dance to music played by leading European DJs.

The original Playboy club on Park Lane in Mayfair was closed 27 years ago after a police raid over suspected gambling irregularities, despite no subsequent evidence of wrongdoing. Its satellite clubs in Manchester and Portsmouth also closed.

“We are looking for opportunities around the world. London will be logical for us. We had some very good years there,” said Dick Rosenzweig, executive vice-president of Playboy and Hefner’s right-hand man.

The most likely British site is the Sports Cafe on Haymarket in London’s West End, which showed sporting events on giant screens for more than a decade.

Playboy has reportedly signed an agreement with Agilo, the London hedge fund that owns the cafe. Its application will go through under existing rules, Sunday Times said. The casino could be operated under licence by George Maloof, a friend of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, runs the Playboy gambling club at his Palms casino in Las Vegas.

At its peak, the London Playboy club employed 600 bunnies at any time, working in three shifts, seven days a week.

Carol Cleveland, the actress from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, was one of the first London bunnies in 1966. Cleveland, now 66, recollects: “I started soon after graduating…During one quiet period I became one of the first London Playboy bunnies….it did land me a film role in Salt and Pepper…”

Pamela Marsh, a London bunny between 1977 and 1980, delves into her past: “I ended up dating Victor Lownes, the club’s boss. I met lots of famous people from Jack Nicholson to John Cleese….Roger Moore. I met Muhammad Ali at the Playboy club after his most recent fight. Ali showed me his black eye under his sunglasses, winked and said: ‘You are the only person who will see this, so keep quiet’. I was overjoyed as he was my hero.”

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