SHANGHAI, China – Iconic brand Playboy plans to open a club in China’s commercial capital of Shanghai – a first for the communist nation, which still bans the company’s flagship men’s magazine.
A formal announcement of the move was expected at a news conference by Playboy Enterprises International Inc. and Shanghai Entertainment Ltd. planned for Tuesday.
More than two decades of economic openness and rising urban prosperity have eroded the Communist Party’s deeply conservative social policies.
Beauty contests, once frowned upon, have been widely embraced in recent years, with the southern city of Sanya this week hosting the Miss World pageant for the second year running. Prostitution, while still illegal, is commonplace in most parts of the country and surveys show broad acceptance of premarital sex among young people.
However, China still bans the sale of Playboy and other magazines featuring photographs of nude women, although some such volumes are sold legally as art books.
The government this summer also launched a crackdown on Internet pornography, shutting nearly 1,500 Web sites and handing out sentences of up to 15 years to people running them.
Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises Inc. publishes Playboy magazine in 18 countries. The company’s famous rabbit head logo is also licensed for a variety of products, especially popular in China and other parts of Asia.
However, the company’s Playboy Clubs that were a fixture of 1960s America are long gone. The last one, located in Manila, the Philippines, closed in 1991.