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The Playboy Fire…update

Playboy went two out of three in the bad news dept. this week. Based on what I had heard, the Playboy building in Los Angeles caught fire Friday night due to burned out transformer. The story was being reported on KSEX’s The Wanker Show around 7 pm as it was happening. Apparently KSEX, peejay Alana Evans was scheduled to be on one of the Playboy programs and called the story in as evacuation was being carried out. Then we checked out the weekend re-run of the show and this is pretty much what went down.

Wankus opened the show noting that a story was breaking. Then Evans got on the air. She was calling from Playboy noting that she was basically an on-the-scene reporter and was doing the XM radio Show when the shit hit the fan. “I’m sitting here live on the air and getting notes attached to me,” Evans said. “The first one was our technical stuff went down. Nobody knew what was going on. The lights started flashing. The lights in the room went down. Then I get a note flashed in front of me that says we may need to evacuate- no emergency yet. Then I look up and everyone in the tech room is starting to leave and they’re waving us out.”

Evans said fire trucks and police cars had arrived.

“A transformer blew up at Playboy Studios and it’s on fire right now.” Evans said the activity was occuring in the center of the building. “They had to completely evacuate the entire area. They had to get us out from where the satellite dishes are and move us completely to the front.” Evans said the scene consisted of half-naked women flashing firemen. Credit Evans with breaking two important stories this year- this one and the time Sharon Mitchell came on KSEX to give a report on the Tianna Lynn situation.

In other news, the Playboy Club which was scheduled to open in Shanghai late in 2005 might not open after all according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times. Then in what is absolutely astounding news, considering that Iowa produces some of the most beautiful corn-fed women going, Playboy has never picked a Playmate from the state. But it hopes to rectify that situation this week.

Chicago Sun Times posted this week: Playboy Enterprises’ plan to open a “lifestyle club” in Shanghai next year won’t be approved, the Beijing Morning Post newspaper reported, citing an unidentified official from Shanghai’s Commerce Bureau.

Michael Nussbaum, the head of Shanghai Entertainment Ltd., which hopes to operate the club under license from Chicago-based Playboy, said he wasn’t aware of any objections. The Shanghai bureau did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“We will adhere to the rules and regulations of applying” for approval, Nussbaum told a Shanghai press conference. The club would be the world’s only Playboy venue.

Playboy Enterprises is seeking to open a seven-story nightspot in western Shanghai with three restaurants, a boutique, cabaret, disco, spa, wine and cigar bars — and the signature Playboy Bunny waitresses. Communist China, where Playboy magazine is banned, isn’t ready for such Western openness, according to Chinese investor Ma Jun.

“The idea of such a club goes against the society’s morals and customs,” said Ma, who helps manage $100 million at E Fund Management Co. in the southern provincial capital of Guangzhou. “Playboy is often associated as being an adult-only club. It won’t be so easy to get approval.”

Playboy’s flagship club in Chicago was shuttered as far back as 1986 after being attacked as demeaning to women. The company’s last Playboy haunt, in Manila, closed in 1991.

The Shanghai Playboy club is planned for Hongqiao district, which also is home to a franchise of Hooters. The restaurant chain, owned by Atlanta-based Hooters Inc., is known for waitresses who wear low-cut T-shirts.

“Sex sells around the world and China is no different from any other country in that regard,” said Timothy Condon, the Singapore-based head of Asian markets research at ING Groep NV.

Work already has started on the Shanghai club, Nussbaum said. Joint-venture partners Shanghai Entertainment and Shanghai Times Supermarket Investment & Construction Co will operate it. A members-only section will be included.

The venture, 60 percent owned by Shanghai Times, has registered capital of $12.5 million, according to Times Chairman Chia Won. He plans to open in the fourth quarter of 2005.

The venture’s agreement with Playboy Enterprises doesn’t include rights to Playboy magazine for men or the company’s television networks or Web sites.

Playboy Enterprises in October signed a licensing agreement with Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and the Nine Group to develop a nightclub and casino in the U.S. gaming capital.

The Shanghai and Las Vegas plans “represent a new high-margin low-risk growth business for the company,” Christie Hefner, the chief executive of Playboy Enterprises and daughter of the founder, Hugh Hefner, said.

Annual revenues from the two clubs will total about $5 million, starting in 2006, when the Las Vegas property is due to open, Playboy said. Playboy Enterprises’ shares have fallen 22 percent this year.

From the Daily Iowan: Doll up, strip down, and leave moderation for another day, because Playboy is coming to Iowa City Dec. 16 and 17 to find its first-ever Hawkeye State centerfold.

The magazine will pay tribute to Iowa with a local playmate after the New York Times reported on Nov. 21 that the state has the highest readership per capita in the nation at 18.6 readers per 1,000 residents.

“After the graphic was published in the New York Times, all of our publicists got together and realized we haven’t had an Iowa playmate,” said Theresa Hennessey, a Playboy spokeswoman. “It’s an unfortunate statistic considering Iowa has the highest readership per capita.”

The playmate, who must be an Iowa native, will likely appear in the magazine mid to late 2005, she said.

In addition to perusing the willing “Hawkeye state hotties” who set up appointments, scouts will accept mail applications that must include one head shot, a body shot, and a copy of a government-issued photo ID, according to a Playboy press release.

Women who sign up for an interview can anticipate full-body photos with or without lingerie and mug shots, Hennessey said.

“If they feel comfortable with it, we might take some topless shots, but it’s not required at this point,” she said.

Playboy expects to call back finalists for more photos after the Jan. 17 deadline for entries. Hennessey said this could be as much as a “bunch” of women or just two or three, depending on the initial interviews.

The winner will earn $25,000 for her appearance on top of any additional promotional opportunities with Playboy.

Hennessey said the magazine chose Iowa City over other Iowa towns because of the presence of the university. This didn’t surprise UI junior Nicole Bruskewitz.

“I wonder if this has any correlation with the fact that we are the bluest city in this state,” she said, in reference to the area’s political leanings. She later added that out-of-town friends often comment on the number of beautiful women.

Although Iowa has yet to have a playmate to call its own in Playboy’s 50-year history, this won’t be the publication’s first stop in Iowa City.

UI graduate student Alan Schultz said that two women he worked with were featured in the magazine’s 2003 “Women of the Big Ten” layout. He wasn’t surprised by the magazine’s return.

“Apparently, they’re well-informed, because it’s a fairly established opinion that Iowa City has a fairly attractive female population,” he said.


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