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Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, Associated Press, Published April 16 2013

Indian state stops Playboy beach club from opening

PANAJI, India – India’s going to have to wait for its first Playboy bunnies.

After a month of heated debate, the government in the tourist hotspot of Goa refused permission for promoters to open the country’s first Playboy club in a 22,000-square-foot open-air property on upmarket Candolim beach.

Women’s groups and conservative politicians had attacked the proposed club, with Michael Lobo, a legislator from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, saying it was “tantamount to promoting prostitution.”

In the end, the government barred the club from opening in one of India’s most famous party locations on technical grounds. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the state assembly Monday that licenses to run so-called beach shacks – even ones as large as the proposed Playboy club – could not be granted to companies, only individuals.

“We cannot give them a license to operate a beach shack,” Parrikar said.

Mumbai-based PB Lifestyle announced last year it had obtained an exclusive license to open Playboy clubs, hotels, bars and cafes and sell Playboy branded merchandise in India. PB Lifestyle chief executive Sanjay Gupta did not immediately respond to a message left at his office.

He said last year he was working to recast Playboy into an aspirational lifestyle brand that wouldn’t spark a backlash in the conservative country, distancing itself from nudity and toning down the traditional, body-hugging bunny costume.