BUN­NIES HOP BACK IN

Guess Play­boy Club never heard of #MeToo move­ment

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY PETER SBLENDORIO

File this un­der things we def­i­nitely didn’t need right now.

Nearly a year af­ter the #MeToo move­ment swept the globe, Play­boy de­cided it was time to dig up an an­cient relic from a far less em­pow­er­ing time: the Play­boy Club.

The car­nal cor­po­ra­tion Wed­nes­day launched its venue at 512 W. 42nd St. — a place that un­abashedly bills the re­turn of the “al­lur­ing” Play­boy Bun­nies who serve food and drinks to pa­trons as “by far the most at­trac­tive fea­ture” of the club.

The sex­u­al­ized es­tab­lish­ment is back more than 30 years af­ter the orig­i­nal Man­hat­tan club shut down — but some things aren’t chang­ing all these decades later. A spokesper­son for Play­boy told Eater that it’s up­hold­ing the same stan­dards for the women work­ing at the Play­boy Club as it did back in the day, and that Play­boy it­self is the one train­ing the Bun­nies.

The club’s launch Wed­nes­day fea­tured a per­for­mance by pop star Robin Thicke that ended with him play­ing his con­tro­ver­sial song “Blurred Lines.” The 2013 song was a com­mer­cial hit, but it also gar­nered con­sid­er­able crit­i­cism from those found its lyrics — such as “I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it” — creepy and be­lieved it made ref­er­ence to non­con­sen­sual sex. The mu­sic video for the song fea­tured Thicke and his col­lab­o­ra­tors — T.I. and Phar­rell Wil­liams — danc­ing along­side three to­p­less women, in­clud­ing Emily Rata­jkowski.

Among the other celebrity at­ten­dees at Wed­nes­day’s open­ing were Cooper Hefner — the son of Play­boy founder Hugh Hefner — coun­try artist Dierks Bent­ley, a num­ber of Play­boy Play­mates and Ice T and Coco, who snapped pho­tos with the Bun­nies.

The big­gest com­mo­tion of the night ap­par­ently came when Martha Ste­wart showed up and made way through a por­tion of the club called the Bunny Cor­ri­dor.

Ear­lier this year, Play­boy con­tended that its club fits into the ideals of to­day’s so­ci­ety.

“The brand al­ways stood for free­dom: free­dom of choice, free­dom of sex­u­al­ity, free­dom from dis­crim­i­na­tion,” a com­pany spokes­woman said. “In this time, the Play­boy brand is prid­ing it­self as a brand hold­ing women on a high pedestal, never ob­jec­ti­fy­ing them and giv­ing them a plat­form, a place to speak their minds. That’s what the brand has al­ways de­fined it­self around.”

But the orig­i­nal Play­boy Club was at the cen­ter of con­tro­versy dur­ing the 1960s as well. Glo­ria Steinem took a job as a Play­boy Bunny at the New York City club in 1963 in or­der to re­port on the con­di­tions the em­ploy­ees there worked un­der.

She de­tailed her ex­pe­ri­ence in an eye-open­ing ar­ti­cle for Show mag­a­zine, con­tend­ing the Bun­nies were un­der­paid and ex­ploited, and that the out­fit they gave her was far too tight.

The brand new club has al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced a mi­nor scan­dal: Its mem­ber­ship di­rec­tor, rags-to-riches so­cialite au­thor Suzanne Corso, was busted for shoplift­ing at Saks ear­lier this month.

The Play­boy Club is back in New York for the first time since 1986. Hope­fully Play­boy re­al­izes how much times have changed since then.

Bun­nies of­fer warm greet­ing for clients at the open­ing of Play­boy Club this week on W. 42nd St. GETTY IM­AGES

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