Phoenix’s Playboy connection

Phoenix’s Playboy connection

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What many don't know is that Phoenix was home to one of several Playboy Clubs in the U.S. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) What many don't know is that Phoenix was home to one of several Playboy Clubs in the U.S. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Webb Ellis managed the Playboy Club from 1966 to 1972. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Webb Ellis managed the Playboy Club from 1966 to 1972. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The club was known for being exclusive and reserved for the elite. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The club was known for being exclusive and reserved for the elite. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Its new owner, Stan Barnes, operates his political consulting business Copper State Consulting Group in the former Playboy space equipped with a private elevator. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Its new owner, Stan Barnes, operates his political consulting business Copper State Consulting Group in the former Playboy space equipped with a private elevator. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner died at his home Wednesday night at the age of 91.

Hefner was known as the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual revolution in the 1950s and built a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, movies and television, symbolized by bow-tied women in bunny costumes.

[RELATED: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies at 91]

What many don't know is that Phoenix was home to one of several Playboy Clubs in the U.S.

It opened in 1962 and closed in 1983.

The 3,300 square foot Penthouse is still standing today.

It sits on the ninth floor of what’s now called the Phoenix Corporate Center at 3033 N. Central Ave.

Its new owner, Stan Barnes, operates his political consulting business Copper State Consulting Group in the former Playboy space equipped with a private elevator.

The club was known for being exclusive and reserved for the elite.

You had to be a member to gain access to the private restaurant, bar and entertainment venue.

Barnes said he tried to sneak into the Playboy Club as a 21-year-old college student.

“I was standing in the Playboy Club in 1983 for about four and a half minutes before they kicked me out,” he laughed. “I remember it being wood paneled and dark.”

Fast forward 23 years later, Barnes jumped at the opportunity to buy the memorable and historic space.

“It’s really exciting place to work every day,” said Barnes, who added he never gets tired of telling the story of what his office space used to be. “The vibe is cool. The views are great.”

Webb Ellis managed the Playboy Club from 1966 to 1972.

He had a staff of 17 bunnies and 500 club members, called keyholders.

“It was a job which I took very seriously,” said Ellis. “I had an awful amount of fun being the manager.”

Ellis said the yearly membership fee back then was $25. A drink would cost you $1.50.

“It was I think uniquely classy because one of the main rules that we had was the bunnies could not date the keyholders and that was something I really had to enforce,” recalled Ellis.

He only met Hugh Hefner once, but felt proud to work for the Playboy brand. He said Hefner will be missed, but not forgotten.

“I can’t give you a great emotional reaction because I didn’t really know him that well but what he did, I think, was a tremendous change for our entire culture. Some would question whether it’s good or bad, but I think his approach to life was unlike anybody before him.”

[RELATED: Playboy playmates reflect on Hugh Hefner's life]

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