LOS ANGELES — Playboy Enterprises International Inc. this week has asked a judge to shut the door on a man who attended a charity event at the Playboy Mansion and sued the adult company because he was charged more than women.
The self-proclaimed “partier,” David Long Jr., sued Playboy and unnamed defendants because an event called the "White Party" in 2009 included gender-based pricing where female customers were offered a free or reduced price admission as long as they abided by the terms of entry.
According to court documents, men were required to pay at least $625 to attend the party while promoters issued complimentary tickets to "gorgeous ladies only."
"Other, presumably less-attractive, women were charged $350," according to the complaint, which alleges violations of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and Gender Tax Repeal Act and unfair competition claims.
Playboy Mansion West is a 29-room house that includes a game house, swimming area, grotto, zoo, aviary and expansive yard area for entertaining.
The company uses it for corporate activities as well as for television production and magazine photography, and for advertising, marketing and Playboy-sponsored events. It also serves as home to Playboy Editor-in-Chief Hugh Hefner.
Playboy also rents out the Mansion to third parties for non-Playboy-sponsored charitable and civic events.
In those cases, Playboy provides for third parties the grounds itself (the Mansion itself is off limits), security staff, staff coordinators, service and clean-up crews as well as rentals, lighting and sound. It also provides off-site parking and shuttles and valets, full bars and bartenders and food prepared by the Mansion’s kitchen.
Promoters also can hire Playmates through Playboy's Playmate Promotions division to act as docents. Those Playmates have appeared as centerfolds in Playboy magazine.
In the case of the White Party, Playboy said that its promoter paid $80,000 for the event. Two hundred attendees were expected.
Playboy, in its request for summary judgment, said that it wasn't the party that set any discriminatory pricing; the company said that all it did was rent out the Playboy Mansion to a third party for a non-Playboy-sponsored charitable event, despite that it has some "Playboy" signage, including neon-light, rabbit head centerpieces.
"In no way did [Playboy] participate in or dictate the admission price, guest list, or charity donations ... all of these items were set by the promoter exclusively," a Playboy brief said.
"The undisputed facts show that [Playboy] did not set or charge the allegedly discriminatory pricing, nor did it aid or incite the pricing decision by the promoter. [Playboy] provided a venue and services for a charity event at a contracted per-person price, without regard to gender."
Earlier this year, Playboy counsel succeeded in moving the case, which seeks class-action status, from Los Angeles Superior Court to federal court with possible damages exceeding $5 million.
A hearing over Playboy's motion for summary judgment is scheduled Dec. 19 at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.