This article has been updated.
The Bunny Beacon will be beaming from Washington in celebration of the White House correspondents’ dinner, the Reliable Source has exclusively learned.
Yes, Playboy is coming to town on April 28 to throw a fist in the air for the First Amendment (and maybe to stick a particular finger in the face of the establishment?). But don’t expect any sweaty grottoes or whatever other teenage fantasies come attached to the storied nudie magazine. (Okay, there will be bunnies but we highly doubt former Playboy model and alleged former Trump mistress Karen McDougal will be on the list.)
Playboy’s Saturday night after-party, dubbed the “No Tie Party,” is something of a return to the magazine’s original ethos, according to Cooper Hefner, the youngest son of Playboy’s late founder, Hugh.
“The brand has always been a passionate fighter for the First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” said Hefner, Playboy’s chief creative officer since last year. In an “increasingly challenging environment,” Hefner added, it was important to him that Playboy be a part of “celebrating” the Fourth Estate and drawing attention to it.
The magazine also plans to host another event in Washington just weeks after the correspondents’ dinner. The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards, in its 37th year, will be held at the Newseum in June. The move to D.C. was actually the brainchild of Christie Hefner, Hugh’s oldest child and Playboy’s former chief executive.
“It just made sense [to switch locations from Los Angeles] after our father passed,” Cooper Hefner said.
Despite Hugh Hefner’s clear interest in a free press, the magazine has never participated in the White House correspondents’ dinner. So why now?
For the last 15 months, Playboy has had a White House correspondent, Brian Karem, who also works for a pair of Maryland community newspapers. The White House Correspondents’ Association does not comment on its membership, but only card-carrying members can purchase tickets to the actual dinner inside the Washington Hilton ballroom. Hefner said Playboy has purchased a table at the dinner and he will attend alongside Karem and Playboy chief executive Ben Kohn, among others.
“I’m looking forward to having a cocktail with some folks afterwards,” Hefner said, adding that “when you put up the Bunny Beacon, you have a fascinating group turn out to our parties.”
An invite has gone out to Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House press secretary whom Karem profiled in the magazine in early April, as well as Sen. Jeff Flake (R) of Arizona. “It’ll be an eclectic mix of folks,” Hefner said. We’re guessing that Hefner’s fiancee, actress Scarlett Byrne (who appeared in Playboy topless when the magazine returned to nude photography), and Tiffany Trump, who’s shown up at Playboy parties in the past, may also be among the revelers.
But bona fides aside — the actual White House reporter and the magazine’s commitment to free speech — is Washington really the place for Playboy?
“D.C. has a tendency to be sort of high strung,” explained Hefner, who said the “No Tie Party” will be an opportunity for folks from either side of the aisle to relax a bit and talk to one another.
“There is a very interesting climate in D.C. right now,” Hefner continued. “You can’t ignore what’s happening right now, even for a brand like us.” And don’t worry if you aren’t on this year’s invite list: Playboy plans to be back in 2019.