LONDON — The Playboy Club London officially opened its doors Saturday evening to a mixed bag of glitz, glamour and even some protests from feminists dressed like rabbits.
The gala event took place in the exclusive Mayfair area of London and marked Playboy’s first foray into London’s nightlife scene since it closed its doors on the original London Playboy Club in 1981.
But the festivities saw more than 100 demonstrators from the groups UK Feminista and Object claiming that Playboy still exploits women. Signs read, “Eff Off Heff” and “Our Bodies Not For Sale.”
Protester Julia Long told Sky News, “They're [the demonstrators] about the degradation of women and I think they're rightly angry at the way Playboy is trying to legitimize pornography and bring it into the mainstream. This club is another step in that direction."
But Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told Sky News that Playboy is "what the sexual revolution was all about."
"A feminist protest in 2011 to the Playboy Bunnies is lame...Playboy and the Playboy clubs were the end of sexism. Women were being held bondage for hundreds of years, owned first by their fathers and then their husbands, Playboy helped to change all that," Hefner said.
The private function continued despite the ruckus and saw the newly-recruited London Bunnies, who were wearing iconic Playboy Bunny Costumes complete with ears, collar, cuffs and fluffy white tail greeting VIP guests once inside the club.
Guests were greeted by host Hefner and treated to bespoke cocktails by renowned mixologist Salvatore Calabrese and canapes by executive head chef Judy Joo, before enjoying blackjack and roulette on the gaming floor and entertainment by DJ Vice.
Hefner said, "I'm thrilled to be here for this very special occasion that celebrates the return of the Playboy Club and its iconic Bunnies to London. People still remember with great fondness the sophistication and romance that the original London Club offered when it opened in 1966. There is a retro-chic quality about Playboy Club London and its Bunnies that will give today's guests an experience they may have missed the first time around."
The Playboy founder attended the event with friends and family including fiancee Crystal Harris and his two sons Marston and Cooper.
London Clubs International CEO Michael Silberling and Playboy CEO Scott Flanders were also at the opening.