By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
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By Jonathan Shikes
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By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
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Two weeks ago, the planets and several other heavenly bodies -- as well as most of the cheesy guy population in the greater Denver area, four representatives from the Institute of Drinking Studies and several hundred dollars' worth of alcohol -- collided at Avalon(9535 Park Meadows Drive, Lone Tree, 303-799-0893), the latest stop on Playboy's 50th Anniversary Club Tour. The Institute's Head of Research and Dr. Etiquette had been in possession of passes to this august event for several weeks, and had taken every opportunity to inform their co-workers and passersby of this fact.
After a sleepless night of Christmas Eve-like anticipation, our excitement level was astronomically high as we headed into Avalon. To calm our nerves, we immediately went to the bar to start on what would become innumerable Tanquerays or Belvederes with tonic for color. Drinks in hand, we placed an urgent call to the Head of Drinking Regrets and the Head of the Pathologic Drinking Division, suggesting that they get to the club immediately. Although, in principle, we here at the Institute are vehemently opposed to cover charges unless there is exceptional live music or there are "folk" dancers of sufficient caliber, we told our fellow researchers that the $65 entrance fee this night was a bargain of Wal-Mart proportions.
That done, we went in search of naked women.
But while photos of such adorned the plasma screens and walls throughout the large bar area, there were no live naked women readily apparent. So we followed the long lines of panting, drooling guys armed with cameras to the Playboy Playmates brought in by the tour. Three of them, including 1995 Playmate of the Year Julie Cialini, were holding court on a circular bed reportedly slept in by Hef and upwards of 4,000 women. Each Playmate was dressed in the traditional bunny suit, complete with floppy ears and a cute cotton tail that did little to draw attention away from those attributes that had put her in Playboy in the first place.
Each Playmate was also accompanied by a highly unimpressive security guard, whose presence was unnecessary because no guy is capable of causing trouble when he can't breathe, much less think, when he suddenly finds himself face to face with a beautiful woman he may already have seen naked in a magazine. Turns out the security guys were there merely to enforce the stringent rules of what a guy can do when being photographed with a Playmate. Our research indicated that there's a six-inch region between the underwire of the bunny suit and the waist where touching is acceptable. (Observing this regional rule in action is better than any Cosmo quiz in determining whether someone is a "butt" or "breast" man. The Head of Research and Dr. Etiquette placed their hands in locations that required terse redirection to a higher and a lower position, respectively. But this was not ground-breaking information for us here at the Institute.)
The Playmates were very approachable, especially Ava Fabian, Miss August 1986. She confirmed the strict photo rules, and confessed to Dr. Etiquette in a landmark interview that she hadn't been hit on that often during her half of the tour. Equally surprising was Ms. Fabian's revelation that the most raucous parties to date had been held in Denver, Boise and Oklahoma City. (Apparently these areas boast no better springtime activities than drinking and picturing beautiful women naked.) She also revealed that a surefire way to anger a Playmate is to break her cotton tail.
But there are other ways, as we here at the Institute quickly determined. For example, substituting the word for an anatomic feature discovered by the girls on Sex and the City that rhymes with "Dolores" for "cheese" is a surefire means of ending a photo op.
We completed much of our research during the first hour, before regular ticket holders could join the party. During this time, we also used our press pass to take photos of several groups of attractive women who don't read this column and therefore didn't know that it doesn't usually include pictures. (This week's incarnation is a rare exception.) And then the general-admission doors opened, and Avalon filled rapidly with every guy in the area who doesn't believe in combing his hair, and also doesn't own a shirt with the top three buttons intact, the better to show off his shaved chest and gold jewelry that wasn't cool even when I was in high school. Some celebrities were also in the crowd; we're pretty sure we saw Ronnie James Dio, or it may have been Otto, the bus driver from The Simpsons.
We also spotted Daddy Warbucks of Little Orphan Annie fame, accompanied by two very attractive girls whose combined ages were less than half of his. Warbucks was a "friend," they told us. These two were among the droves of women wearing outfits made of less fabric than it takes to dress a Cabbage Patch Kid. Most of them apparently thought the tour was a recruiting event for Playboy, and their favorite attention-drawing tactic was dancing so provocatively that both Madonna and Britney would probably call it a cheap, demeaning display of human sexuality.