Chicago’s Playboy Club of the 1960s was nothing like the new NBC prime-time drama, says former Playboy Bunny Marilyn Miller.
But she may not have much to worry about — the show is unlikely to be around for long. It got off to a very rocky start, tanking in the ratings and prompting a boycott of advertisers by the Parents Television Council, the War on Illegal Pornography Coalition, and Morality in Media.
The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women urged NBC and its affiliates to “replace the program with a series that depicts women’s substantive achievements.” Longtime feminist Gloria Steinem also pushed for a boycott of the program and the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City refused to air it.
Despite all that publicity — which often drives the curious to take a peek — the show drew only around 5 million viewers. That might sound good, except that only 1.6 million of them were in that all-important 18-49 age group that advertisers demand.
So, basically a drama based on a nightclub half a century ago had little appeal except to a few curious well over 50. Another problem is that the show is boring — a few wealthy key owners sit around a bar 50 years ago serenaded by jazz musicians. There is little in the way of plot or action. Even the Bunny suits are quite tame by 2011 standards.
Former Bunnies, however, say servers were barred from dancing with customers — although they did on the show. That never happened, former Bunny Miller writes in Vanity Fair magazine.
“The first thing that was incorrect was the dancing together — we never danced!” she notes. “The Bunnies danced together, but never with a customer. It was a rule. You couldn’t dance with the keyholders. They couldn’t touch you. You couldn’t date them, or you’d get fired. The Bunnies enforced the rule themselves — they didn’t want to get hit on all the time.”