Memories of a Young Entrepreneur!

My early beginnings on the Amalfi Coast

On my departure from Salvatore at Playboy I thought I would share with you these childhood memories of one of my regular guests, Stephan Fitch. Who on learning that I began my career at the tender age of 11, when my father found me a summer job in a local hotel in my hometown on the Amalfi Coast of Italy told me this story:
“I find that our paths are truly aligned. While you were serving drinks in Italy, I was serving them, a bit differently, in California.
The Playboy bar for kids that I formed with Mark Greene in La Jolla California started it in late 60’s. However, its concept evolved from when I was in Hawaii, in the mid 60’s, where I had started a club with a guy named Gary Shields called “The 007, Surfers, Playboy Club.” This name seemed to cover every hot masculine icon any adolescent boy could think of at the time.
The La Jolla bar open on weekends, on and off, for over four years. It became so popular that parents, not really knowing what was in the bar at the back of our garage, just dropped their kids off for an hour or two with some money to buy “drinks”.
My step father knew a beer distributor who gave us real promotional lamps and other items to make the bar look adult and authentic.
My step father also built a real miniature bar (right where we are kneeling in the picture). Our patrons table was a used industrial wire spool put onto its side. The seats in the bar were from the front and back seats of an old car. Furniture could not be too high due to the low ceiling height, which meant only kids could fit into the space. It literally kept parents out…they never knew what was inside.
Mark and I (we were both about 9 years old), charged 10 to 15 cents per drink. The price varied according to the name. If it was a “screw” driver, in our case, a mix of orange and 7-Up soda’s, it was 15 cents. “Screw” was a provocative word for 9 year olds and therefore commanded a premium!
We had Playboy Bunnies who were our sisters. They wore sweat tops that we had purchased from the Playboy magazine, they served drinks in our bar from time to time. They enjoyed doing so because the bar was a popular place! The only surviving picture is the one attached with Mark, me and our sisters. The girl in the center is my sister Nancy (who was not wearing hers) but just to the right side and barely in the picture is Mark’s sister Lisa who you can tell was wearing her Playboy top.
Our inspiration for decorating the bar came from our collecting Playboy magazine’s just before trash day (every Monday morning). This meant that every Sunday evening we took a wagon and roamed the alley-ways (where the trash was put out for collection) around our neighbourhood. Playboy magazines were always treated with respect by those who subscribed to it. This was evidenced by the fact that they were almost always neatly bound in string and placed outside the trash cans. This made our job all that much easier. Up until I was in my mid 20’s, I could spot a Playboy magazine binding from a mile away.
Mark would take the centrefolds of some of the magazines and made them into colleges on a wood panel base that were then laminated over w resin (see picture).
When the club faded away, i.e., when girls were becoming a “real” part of our life, as opposed to just fantasy, I started to save the magazines in old watertight ammunition boxes my father brought back from the naval base. My collection grew up until I got tired of hauling them around and ended up selling them to an LA magazine dealer. That collection paid for my first years tuition at UCL.”
My early experience was out of necessity, Stephan looks like he was having a lot more fun!!!