Gloria Steinem hopes for TV boycott of 'Playboy Club'

LOS ANGELES Tue Aug 9, 2011 4:24pm EDT

LOS ANGELES Aug 9 (Reuters) - Veteran women's rights campaigner Gloria Steinem said on Friday she hoped TV viewers would boycott "The Playboy Club", calling the 1960s nightclubs tacky and far from the glamorous places depicted in the show.

"Clearly 'The Playboy Club' is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all," Steinem told Reuters in an interview.

Steinem, one of America's leading crusaders for women's rights for 40 years, went 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.

"When I was working there and writing the expose, one of the things they had to change because of my expose was that they required all the Bunnies, who were just waitresses, to have an internal exam and a test for venereal disease," she said.

Steinem said she regards the Emmy Award-winning drama "Mad Men", which is also set in the 1960s as "a net plus, because it shows the world of the early 1960s with some realism."

But she added; "I expect that 'The Playboy Club' will be a net minus and I hope people boycott it. It's just not telling the truth about the era."

"The Playboy Club", set in the first Playboy Club in Chicago, debuts in September as one of the centerpieces of NBC's new fall television season.

Speaking to TV reporters last week in Los Angeles, network executives, producers and the show's cast all rejected opinions by critics who feel the series will glamorize the porn industry and is demeaning to modern women.

NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt called the show a "really fun soap opera", while executive producer Chad Hodge told TV reporters that the program was "all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be."

One NBC affiliate, in Salt Lake City, has already said it will not broadcast the show but NBC says it does not expect others to follow.

Steinem, 77, said on Friday that it was important to reject the TV series, despite the fact that it is set 40 years ago.

"It normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance...I just know that over the years, women have called me and told me horror stories of what they experienced at the Playboy Club and at the Playboy Mansion," she said.

Steinem was speaking ahead of the premiere of an HBO documentary about her life, "Gloria: In her Own Words", on Aug 15.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)