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Playboy Girls of the Hard Rock

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Photos by: Vince Neill

It was like a return to the good old days while talking with Hugh Hefner again at his Playboy party at the Hard Rock Hotel. It went back to a time when I was summoned to Chicago from Los Angeles to be interviewed and tested to organize and open the first Playboy Model Agency on the West Coast.
About 20 past and present Playmates were in attendance -- Playboy Bunnies as well as the local "Girls of the Hard Rock Casino" and April 2001 Playboy cover girl Irina Voronina. Irina was on hand to celebrate the 10-page pictorial in Playboy's April issue of the Hard Rock beauties. The local Las Vegas glamour girls are Tina Del Conte, Chrysti Dunn, Bobbie Palmer, Misty Newton, Venus, Shannon DuPont, Kristen Galoto, Brandi Bagley, Summer Sunday and Robyn Richelle Williams.

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When I walked into the Hard Rock, I could see immediately there were about 20 or so girls surrounding Hef and Peter Morton on a little elevated platform. I felt very special to be invited by Hef for a photo opportunity to sit by him amongst this group of beautiful ladies and Morton, the esteemed owner/founder of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. When our popular Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman arrived with his words of welcome to Hefner and congratulations to Morton, he presented Hef with one of his personalized gaming chips, which are acceptable in our Las Vegas casinos. Mayor Goodman wished Hef a profitable good time in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. Hefner appreciated being welcomed to our city by our illustrious Mayor.
The April 2001 Special Music Issue is Playboy's first all-music edition.
It features the last candid Interview with Metallica before their breakup and intriguing "20 Questions" with hip-hop trickster Wyclef Jean; the announcement of the 2000 music poll winners (who will be feted at the Music Awards Show) in "The Year in Music." Matt Pinfield, the unabashed music expert behind the TV and on-line band showcase Farmclub.com, boosts his favorite bands and discs in a special "Music Buzz" section. And there's more yet to be seen!
The party included appearances by "The Girls of the Hard Rock Casino" who are featured in a provocative 10-page pictorial and a special home video. I was still with Playboy when Mickey Gillies won the best music award for the renowned "Room Full of Roses" on the Playboy label. I was lucky to be with Playboy Enterprises during one of its expansive golden eras with Playboy magazine, Playboy Hotels, Playboy Clubs, Playboy Records, Productions, Limousine service and Catalogue marketing division.
I still recall those "Barbi Benton" days when the adorable Playmate of the Year was Hef's very important girlfriend, and she would appear singing country and western music at the Palomino Club. Barbi also had a featured regular spot on the TV series "Hee-Haw." At that time Hef became interested in country and western; thus his involvement with Mickey Gillies. In those days, I would go to the Palomino Club to judge an immensely important beauty contest that was held there yearly. It was there I scouted for and found some great girls for Playboy Models. At that time, it was a very wild and lively club and probably still is.playboy04_260
Believing in the theory that the prettier the help, the happier the patrons, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino entrepreneur Peter Morton has hired NBA dancers, homecoming queens and aspiring actresses to sling drinks. "The Girls of the Hard Rock Casino" showcases the dazzling beauties that work for the Hard Rock Casino and its boisterous restaurants and bars. It's a "family" wedding of two great entrepreneurs, Morton and Hefner. The friendship goes back to the early days in Chicago when Hefner and Arnold Morton (Peter Morton's father) were good friends and always supported each other in their unusual ideas. That has paid off heavily for both of them. "The Girls of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino" special home video also was celebrated. It was two fun filled days of heavy-duty partying at the Hard Rock and Hef's 75th Birthday Bash at the MGM Studio 54.
When I was invited by Mary Hynan (Playboy Models East Coast) to come to
Chicago to be interviewed, I had never even seen a Playboy magazine. I knew nothing at all about what I was going to be getting into -- a major lifestyle change. Hynan had heard of me as a successful Screen Actors Guild licensed agent and wanted me to head up the new California agency. Hef had recently opened his Playboy Club in Los Angeles on the famous Hollywood's Sunset Strip. This also was the home of the West Coast division of the magazine, and Hef lived in the Penthouse atop the office high-rise.

 

Hef had a TV show called "Playboy After Dark" wherein he interviewed all kinds of celebrities and wannabe celebrities. He looked very debonair and captured a large TV following. Hef then proceeded to buy a Holmby Hills estate off Sunset Strip near UCLA that became the Playboy Mansion West. The party times were over at his Chicago Playboy mansion/party home and the good times started to roll now in a much more exciting city -- the movie capital of the world. Hef recently told me he had always wanted to be in the center of an exciting city, thus the move from Chicago to Los Angeles. Hef said he feels that Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and he likes being part of the scene.
Hugh Hefner, the icon of the sexual revolution, was its leader starting from the 60s. It was Hugh Hefner who challenged the U.S. Postal Service ban on Playboy as he extolled our constitutional rights to decide for ourselves what kind of material we wanted to read and see. It was also Hef who paid the big bucks to restore the famous Hollywood sign above the Hollywood Hills when it was falling down. It was Hef who came to the rescue when Playmate Dorothy Stratten was so brutally murdered by her husband. Dorothy's mother did not want to take her body back to Canada. It was Hef who had Dorothy buried in a very small but prestigious Hollywood cemetery near Marylyn Monroe. It is a widely known fact that Hef loves, idolizes, educates and launches careers for women (every Bunny is offered a Playboy-funded education). Hef has hosted many fantastic charity events at his Playboy Mansion off Sunset Strip but hidden back several miles, somewhat like an English castle. The grounds are so large he has a zoo permit for the many exotic animals that are given loving care.
During my entire time with Playboy, I found myself highly in demand by TV shows, parties, political events, movie producers, etc. Playboy did open the door for me to meet sports icons such as Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, O.J. Simpson, etc., as well as stars such as James Caan, Judd Nelson, Robert Culp, Bill Cosby, Nickolas Cage, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dr. Ruth (the sexologist), Dudley Moore and scores and scores of talented, professional celebrities.
Hugh Hefner has one of the highest IQs in our country, which is not surprising as he is always where "it's happening" and of course that is with young people. He also surrounds himself with brilliant, organized people such as Karen Ring Borgstrom, who has been with him starting with his Bunny (Lear) jet days as well as highly competent people such as Rob Hilburger and Jody Grimaldi. Hef wants to find the right venue to be part of the Las Vegas scene and to explore the possibilities of reopening his Playboy Clubs, starting with Las Vegas. Hef and Peter Morton are such innovative entrepreneurs that they've already made a big impact in the music world as well as in other enterprises.
The recent $100 million expansion of Peter Morton's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is the latest example of his ongoing creative energy that has marked his entrepreneurial professionalism. The Hard Rock Hotel also is the ultimate expression of Peter Morton's business philosophy: to create innovative, stylish properties that break with convention. As the co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe, the world's first restaurant chain devoted to rock music, Peter Morton long ago achieved a reputation as an adventurous, groundbreaking pioneer. Under his "hands-on" leadership, the memorabilia-laden Hard Rock Cafe evolved into a true international success story, with outposts opening in cities across the globe, and logo merchandise becoming an instantly recognizable cultural phenomenon.
Morton has maintained an impassioned commitment to important social issues and to the preservation of the environment. Morton serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Resources Defense Council. All of Morton's properties adhere steadfastly to a recycling program, and he even has an electronic tote board on his bustling casino floor that ticks off, by seconds, the acres of remaining rain forests on the planet.
Playboy Home Video brings desert visions to scorching life in their latest release, "Girls of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino." Combining the ever-compatible worlds of gambling, music and stunning women, it was shot on location in Las Vegas and in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Hefner and Morton make a great team. Las Vegas is fortunate to be at the heart of their collaboration. This is surely the place to resume the traditions of Hugh Hefner's famous Playboy Clubs. And Hef knows just how to do it.
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