Permits needed before Playboy hops to Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2004, 12:00am

Playboy yesterday formally unveiled plans to launch its first new club in more than 10 years in Shanghai, but the establishment still needs to secure several government permits before opening, the operator says.

'There are no Playboy clubs in the world today. The Playboy organisation, out of all the cities in the world, chose China and Shanghai,' said Michael Nussbaum, chairman and chief executive of club operator Shanghai Entertainment.

The last Playboy club, in the Philippine capital of Manila, closed in 1991. Playboy has already announced plans to revive the theme at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, though Shanghai should open first.

The Shanghai club will include a disco and a cabaret nightclub in a building encased in a glass facade stamped with Playboy's trademark bunny head logo.

Renovations to a seven-storey building in the city's western district of Changning would take until late next year and the club would open after obtaining government permits, Mr Nussbaum said.

Mr Nussbaum said the Playboy Club would be a 'world-class establishment' that would abide by the rules and laws of Shanghai. The club would apply for permits to operate a disco, cabaret and retail store.

The Shanghai government had already approved the creation of a company to oversee construction and apply for permits, Mr Nussbaum said.

Shanghai's commerce bureau and cultural authorities said the opening of the club would require their approval. A spokeswoman for the city government declined to comment on the plans.

However, on Monday the Beijing Morning Post quoted an unnamed official from the Shanghai Cultural Bureau's marketing department as saying the bureau would 'certainly not approve such a club'.

The mainland bans Playboy magazine and other materials it considers to be pornographic.

The Chinese partner in the venture compared the opening of the Playboy club to the arrival of fast-food restaurants on the mainland two decades ago and, more recently, to Shanghai hosting the country's first Formula One race.

'Today, Playboy gives us the ultimate lifestyle opportunity,' said Xie Huan , chairman of Shanghai Times Supermarket Investment.

Playboy Enterprises chief executive Christie Hefner said full membership could cost up to US$50,000 for access to the exclusive 'Bunny Bar'. A mainland recruitment drive is planned to find Playboy bunnies.