The cover to my copy of VIP - The Pleayboy Club Magazine #9

Something that I think gets lost quite often in today’s opinion of Playboy is that what made/makes it stand out from the “nudie mag” competition of its day was that Hugh Hefner’s magazine wasn’t actually about nudity – it was about a lifestyle that included an appreciation of many things including nudity. But the nudity is/was what got most people’s attention, and therefore it’s very easy to assume (especially nowadays) that everything involving Playboy involves nudity.

That’s certainly not the case for VIP – The Playboy Club Magazine Issue #9, which only satisfies my nudity-requirement for non-scifi/fantasy magazines because a picture on one page includes in its background framed pictures of Playboy centerfolds. The name is on the can when it comes to what VIP is about – The Playboy Club.

Indeed, each of the sections deemed worthy of a directory spot in this Spring 1966’s issue revolves around the Playboy Club in some way;

Playboy Club Calendar is, of course, a listing of the various performers and events coming to the over-a-dozen locations across the country (and Jamaica). RSVIP is a letters page dedicated to Playboy Club questions, and What’s New… is updated news regarding Playboy, the Clubs, or an especially auspicious Club Member who has some cars to sell.

Playboy by the Bay chronicles the opening of the San Fran Club, comparing the significance of the event to the changes wrought on San Francisco by the 1906 earthquake. Pictures show the line of dapper-dressed men and women waiting outside to enter the building, and other pictures display various well-known (for 1966’s audience) celebrities and society well-to-dos enjoying the cabaret, dinner, games, entertainment, and gift shop (Page 14 is also the only place you’ll spot any second-hand nudity). I’ll again praise Hefner’s ability to be mocked in his own publications, as a photo caption reveals that comedian Jackie Gayle’s routine included a bit stating that the Hefner attending the opening night was really an automaton, and the real one is, “…home in his pajamas writing his philosophy.”

The VIP Look is a one pager about the type of dress a patron of the Jamaican Club should assemble, which includes a “…polyester blazer with side vents, peaked lapels, and patch pockets.” Ah, the forgotten sophistication of – actually, screw that, I’ve been to Jamaica and I probably would have roasted myself in something like that…our fashion slide to t-shirts and shorts has some advantages.

“Quips&Quotes” contains snippets of quotes about the Clubs and holds some related single-panel funnies (look for Bunny Aphrodite). The Playboy Club Performer Profile focuses on master trombonist Kai Winding, and the following page’s multi-page pictorial New Bunnies In Town highlights nearly a dozen of the Club’s new employees, giving each an opportunity to biograph about themselves. This is important, as this makes the Club’s Bunnies not just lusty eye-candy as many claim, but enforces to Club members that their servers are people with hopes, dreams, and aspirations to be a corporate attorney.

Los Angeles vs. San Francisco by Mort Sahl humorously explains why the opening of Playboy Clubs in both Los Angeles and San Francisco will finally bring an end to the rivalry between the cities. At The Club is a somewhat more zoomed-in account of activities of Club guests and Bunnies across the country.

The Gruesome Saga of Bunny Tondaleyo is a “fractured flicker” created by Jay Ward. The comic mastermind took stills from various silent movies and created the tale of “young Tondaleyo Furder” who decides to set off to the Big City, ultimately becoming successful as a Bunny. The captioned wit is hilarious, and the various images chosen to make up the three-page comic are quite amusing – especially the final one which casts Hugh Hefner as Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

The issue rounds out with Keynotables and VIPersonals. The first is a quick profile of three well-knowns – in this case Jack Lemmon, John Pringle, and James Kimberly. As with everything else in the issue the three men are associated with the Playboy Club in some way – Lemmon actually attends the “Los Angeles hutch” and the other gents provided quotes. VIPersonals is a very fancy sell/need page for people hocking all sorts of things, ranging from expensive cars to original Dutch master oil paintings that were “inherited.”

THE FINAL VERDICT: If you’re really about the lifestyle, I think it’s worth looking at. If you’re just about the nudity, pass it by.

I found flipping through this magazine to be fascinating, but I’ve always been more interested in the culture Playboy developed through the 60s than just staring at boobs. It was very cool to see images of the San Fran opening, to see what the interior of the Club was like, and read about all the class and style that was expected of Playboy patrons at the time. If you’re as intrigued by the upcoming The Playboy Club series as much as I am because of the thought of seeing some of the mystique and class of The Lifestyle recaptured, than I absolutely recommend picking up this issue.

But if you’re really only interested in flipping to Page 14 to see whose centerfold is framed on the wall you’d probably be better off just picking up a normal issue of Playboy.