Playboy Mansion Suit Could Reach Federal Appeals Court

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — David Long Jr., the man who sued Playboy Enterprises International because he was charged more than women at a Playboy Mansion event, has had his day in court.

And he lost.

Not only did he lose, but he incurred about $6,000 in court fees not counting his own attorneys fees after a federal judge in Los Angeles agreed with Playboy, granting summary judgment in the adult entertainment publisher's favor.

But now Long plans to go one step further and take his case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Playboy, in its request for summary judgment, said that it wasn't the party that set any discriminatory pricing, and that all it did was rent out the Playboy Mansion to a third party for a non-Playboy-sponsored charitable event.

Long, a self-proclaimed “partier,” had sued Playboy and John Doe 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. It is used 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.

Another male guest that night also sued Playboy, but that case — Steve Frye vs. Playboy Enterprises International — is now on hold while the 9th Circuit decides what to do with the Long case.