The story behind the man who brought the Playboy Club to Britain


He stepped off his transatlantic flight in London in 1966 armed with a huge box of Playboy-branded cigarette lighters and a mandate from ­business partner Hugh Hefner to introduce prudish Britain to those famous bunny ears.

Victor Lownes can’t have been confident of his reception. But Hefner’s right-hand man, charged with opening the first Playboy club in Britain, needn’t have worried.

Swinging London was in the midst of a growing sexual revolution. If the appetite wasn’t wholly ripe yet for Hefner’s new cheeky brand of sex, it was getting there.

His all-American glamour porn was a contrast to Brit notions of under the counter seediness, and captured the imagination.

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“I don’t remember any challenges,” insisted Victor, years later. “We had the co-operation of everybody the minute we set foot here.”

Victor had champagne bucketloads of charm, helping him launch London’s Playboy Club on a $1million salary – crowning him Britain’s highest-paid boss – and, with his promiscuous ways, earned him notoriety.


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