The breakdown of society is on us. Not only is the pure, wholesome entertainment of Teletubbies going to leave our lives at the end of the month, but the worst of Western civilisation will be upon us at the same time. No, not Justin Bieber or Katie Price. This is Sodom and Gommorah — tadka maar ke. Come December, Hugh Heffner’s Playboy Club is all set to open its doors in Candolim, Goa. And a second Playboy Club is planned for Hyderabad in early 2013. So what if Playboy magazines are banned in India, now you can hop across to the Playboy club and meet the bunnies in the flesh.
So what can we expect in the Playboy Club? According to reports, it’s supposed to be a 22,000-square-foot open-air club replete with everything “integral to Playboy culture”. Just a little fine-tuned to Indian tastes. So if you’re expecting to see bunnies romping around with barely restrained perky breasts and droopy satin ears with little furry tails on their tushes, think again. Our Playboy Club will be one which families can visit and wives can feel at home in.
When the Playboy Clubs were re-opened in Las Vegas after they’d been closed for over a decade, Roberto Cavalli had redesigned the bunny outfits to make them slightly more risqué. But in India, the land of double standards and convenient morality, there’s not a chance in hell that there’ll be anyone romping around in a tuxedo collar, cuffs, a corset, cottontail and satin bunny ears. Even our cheerleaders had to don more “acceptable” attire and prance around covered from head to toe in the heat of the cricket grounds.
So what will the bunnies be wearing? According to Sanjay Gupta, who’s the CEO of Playboy Lifestyle — “The costumes of the bunnies, who are integral to the Playboy culture, will be based on Indian sensibilities and morals. We will dissociate from nudity completely. We are positioning it around lifestyle, aspiration and glamour”. The club is being positioned as “an aspirational lifestyle choice for the growing Indian middle class”.
According to Hugh Hefner’s brother, Keith Hefner in What’s a Bunny? – “A Bunny—like the Playboy Playmate—is the girl next door. She is... beautiful, desirable, and a nice, fun loving person. A Bunny is not a broad or a 'hippy.' She may be sexy, but it's a fresh healthy sex—not cheap or lewd..."
Actually that sounds way too wholesome for India to me. After all, let’s see what our benchmark for Indian sensibilities and morals is? Take our films which are censor-approved. Women gyrating to Chikni Chameli or My Name Is Sheila wearing drenched sarees hoisted up to their knees and blouses which leave nothing to the imagination. Hell, the corsets the bunnies wear cover up way more than the current bra-doubling-up-as-saree-blouse.
Or maybe we shouldn’t think our films set the standards for morality and sensibilities. Maybe it’s our politicians, our elected representatives who are our upholders of moral values. Porn is par for the course for Parliament, as is fathering children and refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility for them, as is the usual political nuclear family structure of politico + wife + 2 children and 1 mistress who will get thrown out of the house as said politico pops it. And then there’s the Indian man’s love for featuring on videotapes of him having illicit sex — occasionally consensual — while his wife is making aloo puri for him at home.
Playboy is not the first to face a hard time with our country’s double standards. In 2004, Hooters was thinking of opening shop in India and had even started looking around for a PR agency. All plans came to nought for various reasons, one of the main ones being the outfits of the servers. And that was the end of that. You can’t really dress up the Hooters girls in capes.
Imagine the Playboy Bunny in a kaftan with a little cottonwool tail on it. Playboy Clubs were known for their entertainment — Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin have performed there. It’s a little like Calcutta’s Trincas with hotter women. So what’s the big deal? Bring on the singing girls with bunny tails.
And before our moral police get their panties in a twist and demand the bunnies cover themselves from head-to-toe, maybe they should take a look at what passes as high moral character in India. I’d say, the Playboy Club and its bunnies are way too tame by what we are used to in India.