MUMBAI The Playboy club is coming to India -- but with "bunnies" in non-revealing outfits.
"The costumes of the bunnies, who are integral to the Playboy culture, will be based on Indian sensibilities and morals," Sanjay Gupta, CEO of PB Lifestyle, which is bringing the brand to India through a licensing agreement, told Reuters.
India has strict censorship laws and there is no Indian version of Playboy, the magazine launched by Hugh Hefner that became as known for its pictures of naked women as for the hedonistic lifestyle propagated by its founder.
Playboy bunnies, or waitresses, typically wear black satin bodices, bow ties, cuffs and bunny ears. PB Lifestyle has not yet decided what waitresses will wear in India, a socially conservative country where it is frowned upon for couples to hold hands in public.
Even a popular cricket tournament drew criticism and threats when it hired foreign cheerleaders in short clothes, forcing organisers to revamp the outfits to show less skin.
"Our clubs will not have any nudity. So there should not be any problem and we are prepared to deal with it if there is any," said Gupta, whose media and real estate company signed a 30-year licensing agreement with U.S.-based Playboy Enterprises Inc ICONAP.UL
Gupta's company plans to use the Playboy brand and its iconic rabbit-head logo on clubs, bars, hotels and cafes and will spend 2 billion rupees in the first five years. The first Playboy property in India will be a club in the resort state of Goa, followed by one in Hyderabad.
Whether the Playboy brand will sell in a toned-down version remains to be seen.
"They are associated with scantily clad women, fun and pleasure. What is the point of getting Playboy to India in such a boring way?" asked 25-year old Yash Sanghavi, a digital advertising executive.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Stephen Powell)