Sunday, March 24, 2013

Miami's Playboy Club a profit center until ...

Miami skyline from Biscayne Bay,
 from Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress. 

By Jane Feehan

The first Playboy Club opened in February, 1960 in Chicago. The Playboy enterprise, headed then by Hugh Hefner, initially offered seven franchise operations. The second club opened in Miami in May 1961 at 77th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

Eight investors, led by Miamian Thomas A. Perrine, kicked in $300,000, including the $10,000 franchise fee, under the corporate name Play-Key, Inc. Even after paying 10 percent gross to Playboy Clubs International each month, the investors made money. Within weeks 2,000 joined the club paying $25 each for the coveted Playboy membership “key.” Within months, 5,400 had joined.

The club was so popular – and profitable - Hefner bought the Miami franchise back from its investors five months later in September for $697,000, about a $400,000 profit for Play-Key, Inc.  Hefner claimed the buy back gave the company more opportunities to better serve its members. The Miami Playboy Club continued to be operated by original managers Ray Baribeau and Buffy Dee.

The swinging 1960s became hokey by the 1980s. The Miami Playboy Club closed its Biscayne location in 1983 and moved to a site near the Miami International Airport. It didn’t do much for declining business; the club closed its doors by the mid to late 1980s.

Playboy Clubs International shut down most of its 24 units by 1991. About two remain open in other countries.

Miami News, Sept. 27, 1961
Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 11, 1985

Tags: Miami Playboy Club, Miami history, Miami in the 1960s, Florida film researcher,  historical researcher


  1. Jane: Interesting column. That first location on Biscayne is not the greatest neighborhood these days. I never went to a Playboy Club, but one of my favorite servers at Joe's Diner in Naples is a cute 70 something woman who worked at that club from the onset. Even though the years have marched by, I can still picture her with a fluffy little bunny tail. A good Easter message column from you.

  2. I used to go to that Playboy Club with dates. It was a reasonable place for a night out. Used to give me a complex, however. Those bunnies got more attention from my dates than I did!

  3. I went to the club in '73 and I thought it was on Miami Beach then? It was already on the decline serving drinks in plastic cups.

  4. I'll check the dates in a few days.