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Last U.S. Playboy Club Prepares to Lock Door for Good

July 29, 1988

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Playboy Bunnies in cotton-tail costumes will dip their last bunny dips tonight when the last Playboy Club in America closes.

The Hilton Inn dropped its Playboy Club franchise to ″create a new image″ for the lounge connected to its hotel. ″It sometimes discourages group meeting planners from selecting the Lansing hotel,″ sales director Shelly Ahlers said.

The club, which opened in 1982, was the last holdout in a 28-year tradition. Franchises in Des Moines and Omaha closed at the end of April, while Playboy Enterprises Inc. shut down all the clubs it owned in 1986.

Nearly 30 Playboy Clubs sprang up around the United States after Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner opened the first in Chicago in 1960.

Every club followed the Hefner formula: waitresses served drinks while perched on spike heels and squeezed into figure-hugging, strapless, low-cut satin costumes accessorized with tuxedo collars, cuffs, fluffy white tails and bunny ears.

Playboy bunnies were trained to serve drinks by ″dipping″ demurely rather than bending over.

When he closed the Playboy-owned clubs, Hefner said they had become ″passe″ and ″too tame for the times.″

After tonight, anyone interested in patronizing a Playboy Club will have to go to the Orient.

The Lansing club had a reunion Thursday of all the Playboy bunnies who ever served cocktails there.

Tonight, a reunion is planned for the people who were card-carrying club members before low attendance forced the owners to throw away the key cards and let anyone in. ″Business has been so slow,″ club Manager Jeff Collar said.

On Saturday, club memorabilia will be auctioned for charity.

The closing, announced earlier this month, gave both the club and hotel a boost as former customers, curiosity seekers and reporters descended to witness the end of an era.

″The bunnies are getting pretty good at interviews,″ Collar said.

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