I worked around the corner from the Playboy Club in Chicago

Rush Street in Chicago
Rush Street in Chicago
Rush St. at night
Rush St. at night
The Back Room Jazz Club on Rush Street
The Back Room Jazz Club on Rush Street
Restaurant on Bellevue just off Rush Street
Restaurant on Bellevue just off Rush Street
The Playboy Club on Oak in all it's trashy glory
The Playboy Club on Oak in all it's trashy glory
Miracle Mile in Chicago on Michigan Ave.
Miracle Mile in Chicago on Michigan Ave.

I lived most of my life in Chicago. I loved it because there was so much to do, especially for someone with widely varying interests like myself. Besides being a wife and mother, I was a teacher, a sometimes singer, and student at Northwestern, National Louis University, and the Chicago Musical college. I was involved in art, ballet, and the music and theater scene there.

At one point in my life there, I divorced and became a single mom looking for ways to bring in extra cash to raise my two girls and maintain a decent lifestyle. Since teachers did not rake in much, no matter how hard they worked, I moonlighted to make ends meet. I taught ESL in a junior college at night, taught summer school, and once took a job as a hostess at a supper club named Adolph's where celebrities like Sinatra and Bob Hope would hang out when they were in town.

I've always been rather naive despite the fact that I grew up and spent all of my life in big cities.I had no idea when I took the job at Adolph's down on Rush street in Chicago, that it was a hang out for the mafia. Even while I was working there at night, all glammed up in cocktail dresses and high heels, I still didn't realize it. The place had a certain sophistication and I never really knew what went on underneath that beautiful facade until I was long gone.

If you know nothing about Rush Street in Chicago, during the '60s, let me give you a quick rundown. Rush Street was (and maybe still is) in an area called the Gold Coast, where many of the restaurants, supper clubs, and jazz clubs were all jammed into a 20 block radius. It had a teaming nightlife, was frequented by out-of-town businessmen, entertainers, and locals looking for fun. That was not my reason for being there. I just wanted to make money for my family, which I did...the tips were amazing. I was oblivious to the nightlife and hurried home each night after work.

Around the corner on Oak street, where some of the small "coutour" shops, jewelry shops, hair salons, and businesses like travel and modeling agencies were, was the Playboy Club. And just a block away was Michigan Avenue, referred to as the Miracle Mile because of all the upscale shops, luxury hotels, and fabulous restaurants there. I Magnins, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus were just a few. The Drake Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons were also there. And just a block to the east was fabulous Lake Michigan with it's beautiful sandy beaches. Strange that the Playboy club, a haven for horny out-of-towners, was plunked right in the middle of all that finery.

A couple of years ago when the new fall season of television shows was coming up, NBC wanted to resurrect the Playboy persona in a weekly series starring Eddie Ciprian (Leann Rimes' husband). The provocative new series was to be set in a time and place that challenged social mores. It centered around the Playboy Club, built by visionary and icon Hugh Hefner, who created an empire and unwittingly changed American culture.

The series, titled The Playboy Club , was set in the first Playboy Club in Chicago on Rush street. It debuted in September as one of the centerpieces of NBC's new fall television season. However, only one episode was shown before it was taken off the air..

Gloria Steinem wants the TV series boycotted

Veteran women's rights campaigner Gloria Steinem wanted TV viewers to boycott the show calling the 1960s nightclub tacky and far from the glamorous place depicted in the show. Steinem, had gone undercover to work as a Bunny at the New York City Playboy Club in 1963 and wrote a ground-breaking expose about the onerous conditions for women who worked there.

Steinem said the Emmy Award-winning drama Mad Men , which is also set in the 1960s, is a net-plus because it shows the world of the early 1960s with some realism."But I expect that the Playboy Club TV show will be a net-minus. It's just not telling the truth about the era."

Network executives, producers and the show's cast all rejected opinions by critics who felt the series would glamorize the porn industry and be demeaning to modern women. Evidently, Steinem and others who put pressure on NBC were successful, cause the show never continued after the first episode.











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Comments 34 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

It will all be decided by the ratings. BTW, it looks more like a show for women.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

I agree. The show is only airing due to the success of "Mad Men," and the network hopes to catch some of that audience.

When growing up, most youngs men's exposure to nudity was through playboy. Kind of a coming to age moment. However, I never thought Hugh Hefner was an individual to idolize, and I don't care to know about him and his legacy. I think his success was due to timing, and that he is a pathetic figure now. I wonder if the show will touch on the tragedies some of the models went through? One was murdered, another became a wanted criminal. I would watch the show if they did.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

@willstarr: You may be right about that...probably because of the main character


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

@A.A.Zavala I don't think it's going to focus on Hugh Hefner. If you watch the trainer, it's more about the girls and there is a murder right off the bat


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

Interesting...I wonder what they will come up with next? Isn't there enough promoting sex and such on the screen. Sorry, ranting...I bet that was a bit trippy for you to find out the history of the places you were working. Brushing elbows with the mofia. Being a small town girl, I would have freaked. Great hub! I just don't think I will be watching this show.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Are they really promoting sex or taking a look back to show how awful it was and the way women were demoralized. I was married in the 50s...and it was pretty intense...all we had was Good Housekeeping to kept us supplied with articles about how to keep our husbands happy with food, sex, and service.

"Would you like a nice cup of coffee or a cocktail, dear? ...your shoes shined?, another pillow? I just go put on that sexy dress you like and change my makeup and paint my nails again....after I do the dishes and put the kids to bed"


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Sorry...but I remember it all.


Sue Ann Bowling 5 years ago

I'm afraid the 60's passed me by--I was too busy getting a Physics degree at Radcliffe followed by a physics/geophysics/atmospheric science graduate degrees in Alaska to notice! Funny--in some ways I was in the forefront of the changing role of women (one of only 4 women in physics at Harvard that year) but perhaps because my father always expected me to go into science I never thought of my interests being unusual or out of my expected gender role.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

I too spent a lot of time going to school and have a couple of graduate degrees in science of education and music. I taught at the University of Illinois while working on a PhD. Spent the rest of my time traveling the world and writing. I totally reacted to the backlash from women in the 60s and 70s and quickly became my own person.


totsymae 5 years ago

It's kinda appealing to me. I would give it a try. Maybe it'll get a little more realistic as Steinem wants down the road. Just have to break people into it first.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You may be right...don't know. Did you take a look at the trailer? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.


J Burgraff profile image

J Burgraff 5 years ago

I don't think we actually broke through the 'glass ceiling'. Did we? It's important for women to see how we are still objectified. The ironic question of course, is this doing it more? (Sorry, I just didn't know quite how to put that sentence together). If this is a program that enlightens, then it is worth it. If not, then it's just another shameless attempt to make money off of womens' bodies.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, JB, for the comment. I certainly agree with you. I write for Examiner.com on Women's Careers and a lot of the research I do generates recent articles on this subject. But, it doesn't seem to change things. Guess we just have to hope for the future like we've been doing for years.


J Burgraff profile image

J Burgraff 5 years ago

I know. I just keep hoping that for my daughter's generation things will change.


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

I know this is not what the hub is about, but I wish I'd read this a day earlier, because I'm just, (today, 9/16/2011), leaving Chicago. I would have loved at least visited the area. I just walked around the financial district. The next time I'm going to check this area out. Very interesting hub alekhouse, I love reading about other peoples lives, and you had a very interesting life to say the least, and you tell it so well. Voted up, interesting, awesome.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

And so do you...have an interesting life. All that traveling you've been doing...I wish I was still up to it. It's all I can do to run my bed and breakfast and write my memoir. What are you up to now? I know you sold your house. Where are you going to live? If you go to Chicago again, let me know ahead of time and I'll give you some suggestions of where to go and what to see. Although, frankly, I haven't been there for more than a minute or two now and then in 17 years. It's probably changed a lot.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

My grandma got married in the mid 40's and apparently gave up a scholarship to go to college to do that. Yes, that was an era when women were expected to stay at home, and tend to the kids. Even working women had things harder in those days because their husbands did far less. Honestly, though, I sometimes wonder if things have progressed that much. I still see a lot of working women doing the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning, and home work with their kids, and that is after work. This is probably horrifying to the happily married set, but I do not feel like I am missing out on anything.

I watched the movie A Bunny Tale based on the book by Steinem, and I am a bit on the fence about her harsh stance. Yes, women worked in harsh and demeaning conditions at those clubs, but so did other women who worked at other jobs. I would not even bother watching the new show coming up, and calling for people to boycott it seems to be giving it more attention than it deserves. Who knows, it might not even last a few episodes.

Your story about working at a club with the mafia sounds interesting though. Will you be including stories about this in your book?


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

"Your story about working at a club with the mafia sounds interesting though. Will you be including stories about this in your book?"

Julia, Thanks for the comment. I know this is a good story...about the club I worked in and I have lots more ...but my memoir is only about the 17 years I was an Innkeeper in Louisville. I'm thinking about doing another one, if the first one gets published...I'm still working on it.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

What a life you've led! Highly educated and cultured, yet moonlighting as a waitress because tips were great and helped you make ends meet. That alone speaks volumes about that era, although it's still not much different today for men and women in the field of teaching.

And I also find it fascinating that you were able to make another transition to innkeeper during the last 17 years.

Interesting hub. Thanks for sharing it. I do plan to tune into the show just to see how they portray that era.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks HBN for the nice comment. Glad you enjoyed the hub. I've been lucky to have gotten good feedback from people like you here on Hub pages. It had helped me come up with and put together a lot of stories from my 17 years as an Innkeeper. I am collecting them into a memoir which I've been working on for a while now. Hoping to have the manuscript finished by the end of the year.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

You are a great writer. I hung on every word. I used to visit downtown Chicago every Sunday with my two golden retrievers. Chicago is magical-one of the greatest and in my humble opinion, THE greatest city in the world. They dynamics, the diversity, the wealth, the art, the waterfront, the architecture. I love Chicago. Always enjoy visiting. Greatly enjoyed your Hub-brought back many fond memories.

My best friend says everyone has a story, I love hearing the journeys of others. Thank you so much! Very entertaining and great perspective on Chicago.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, GMa. So glad you enjoyed the hub. I love Chicago too. If I could afford it, I'd move back in a second. It's a great city.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

Fascinating article - every time we look back with nostalgia, and glamorize the ills of an era, we are trivializing the struggles of those who fought against those ills.

If the network made a series about "the good old days" on a slave plantation, we would ALL be outraged, yet we accept this kind of nonsense about "women's place in the world" - sometimes I think not much has changed.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Did you know they took the series off the air, after the second episode? I wonder if Gloria Steinem had anything to do with it. She was really lobbying against it.


SilverGenes 5 years ago

alekhouse, wouldn't that be weird? Gloria did that whole undercover thing as a bunny... hmm. The first look I had at what I was supposed to grow into were the Playboy magazines hidden away (won't say where) that six of us kids found for rainy weekend reading. Then when I grew up and worked in a bar to pay the bills, it was a revelation. I did quite well in tips but I had a problem with the bunny outfits - go figure. LOL


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

That's a riot! LOL I bet lots of those magazines were found hidden under lots of beds.


SilverGenes 5 years ago

Oh yes. And you know what is really weird? They are very tame compared with what is out there today. I am dating myself but we were reading the early sixites mags and they were kinda cool :)


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

I used to read a lot of magazines, but don't have time anymore.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

Speaking of diversity, I love your hubs Alekhouse... you are a writer. W.R.I.T.E.R Thank you for this very interesting visit back to another era. And yes, Playboy was a pivotal magazine for many of us (if we admit it). I recall my best friend (we were around 12/13) calling me over to Playboy in our local (small town) book store and showing me a couple of pix of topless women to ask which breasts mine most resembled. I was shocked but...hmmm... titillated by her outrageous candor. It seems there were some fairly heady articles in Playboy (my mother's excuse for my father's hiding away Playboy was the intellectual articles haha)... and I too no longer read magazines, but they did have their place in my development.

I also love reading about other facets of your life, so keep on hubbing please!

And Gloria Steinem is one of my heroes. I don't find her harsh (or strident?) in the least... I'm amazed at how humble her background was and how much compassion she exudes inspite of being a well-known public figure and (I think) a brilliant mind.

Thanks again!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Hi Techygran. Thanks for the interesting comment. I don't know if you're aware of it, but the Playboy Club TV show was taken off the air after the second episode. Wonder if Gloria Steinem had anything to do with it? Be interesting to find out.

Also, thanks for the compliments on my writing.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Your hub is fabulous, but the show was a fail. There was a show on for one season called Swingtown, it was an amazing show set back in the 60's but they never renewed it. I wondered how the Playboy Club could work if Swingtown couldn't. My question was answered. Voted UP/Interesting!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

I know it failed. I saw the first episode. I really didn't think it was that bad. I love Eddie Cibrian. He used to be on the soaps. I wonder If Gloria Steinem had anything to do with it being taken off the air.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

The queen of controversy, that wouldn't surprise me. I heard the ratings were poor.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

How can they be poor, when there was only one episode? What kind of statistical info is that?

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