Players Migrate to Vegas

Alex Henderson
From an adult industry perspective, Las Vegas is important not only because of all the erotic filmmakers, film stars, Internet models and adult webmasters who are based there, but also because of famous non-Vegas residents who have been undertaking or planning major business ventures in the Southern Nevada City.

Vivid Entertainment, Playboy Enterprises and Larry Flynt's LFP/Hustler empire are not Las Vegas-based — Vivid and LFP/Hustler are based in Los Angeles, and Playboy's corporate headquarters are in Chicago — but they are three examples of adult industry heavyweights that have expanded their presence in Sin City or have big plans to do so.

In early 2005, Vivid (the world's largest adult film company) opened an upscale nightclub inside the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on the busy area of Las Vegas Boulevard known as "The Las Vegas Strip" (or simply "The Strip"). And in late 2004, Playboy Enterprises announced that it would be opening a Playboy-themed nightclub inside the Palms Casino Resort on Flamingo Road sometime in 2006. The club will unveil a new generation of Playboy Bunnies; waitresses will be wearing Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli's new, updated version of the famous Playboy Bunny costume, which will include the traditional fluffy tail and rabbit ears. Cavalli's mainstream clients have included actress/singer Jennifer Lopez and R&B stars Beyoncé Knowles (of Destiny's Child fame) and Alicia Keyes.

Playboy Enterprises' Las Vegas nightclub will come 20 years after the closing of Playboy Clubs in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago in 1986. The first Playboy Club opened in the Windy City 45 years ago in 1960 — a pre-Penthouse, pre-Hustler, pre-"Deep Throat" time in which the innovative Hugh Hefner was widely regarded as the king of erotic entertainment and Playboy Magazine was North America's most widely read adult publication. The Playboy Clubs were quite successful in the 1960s, and the Playboy Bunny became an iconic symbol of the Sexual Revolution. But in the 1970s, the Playboy Clubs began losing money — and when Playboy Enterprises closed its Playboy Clubs in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago simultaneously, it marked the end of an era.

Spokespeople for Playboy Enterprises have been quoted as saying that the new Las Vegas club will not be a carbon copy of the old Playboy Clubs of the 1960s and 1970s (which offered live jazz performances) but rather, it will be more of a dance club.

Meanwhile, LFP/Hustler is planning a major expansion in Sin City. LFP/Hustler spokesman Tyler Goldman told XBiz: "The Hustler brand is the ideal fit for Las Vegas, and the market has been giving us very positive feedback in terms of the offers we have been getting. I think the Hustler brand is an extremely strong brand for entertainment in Las Vegas."

Goldman elaborated: "We have been pursued in a number of areas in Las Vegas. There is the possibility of a Hustler casino and a hotel. There is the possibility of a restaurant. And Las Vegas presents a tremendous opportunity for a retail store; there is the possibility of a Hustler Hollywood store in Las Vegas. The Hustler Hollywood store in Las Vegas would probably be the largest Hustler Hollywood store in the United States. We have had tremendous success with all of our Hustler Hollywood stores, including, mostly recently, South Beach in Miami, and we are waiting for the ideal location in Las Vegas."

Goldman did not mention the names of any possible partners for LFP/Hustler in Sin City; nonetheless, he stressed that it isn't a question of whether Larry Flynt's erotic empire will enjoy a major expansion in Las Vegas, but rather, a question of when and with whom. Goldman asserted that because Larry Flynt considers Las Vegas a very high priority, LFP/Hustler will be extremely selective when it comes to choosing allies in Sin City.

"We have been holding out until we find the ideal partner and the ideal locations," Goldman explained. "We are working very hard at talking to a number of parties in Las Vegas about all of the different opportunities. We have had some good offers, but because Las Vegas is such an important market for us, we are holding out for the crème de la crème and the perfect partner in all of the categories that I have mentioned."