But the only thing strait-laced about the Ivy Hotel (www.ivyhotel.com) is the leather-covered, corseted columns in the lobby.
The 159-room, $90-million property could pass as Playboy Mansion South, from the skin-baring cocktail waitresses to the $3,000-a-night specialty suite with king-size bunk beds, a group shower and, ahem, a fireman’s pole.
“We wanted something a little voyeuristic, a little seductive,” said Michael Kelly, the Ivy’s co-owner who has made his fortune buying and selling depressed assets. “It’s an adult playground, but it’s not cheap.”
It used to be that only managers of by-the-hour motels were happy to have their properties mistaken for bordellos. But with soccer moms taking erotic dancing classes at the local community college and Carl’s Jr. using Paris Hilton (read: sex) to sell hamburgers, some hotels aren’t afraid to offer guests more than X-rated pay-per-view movies.
Julie Albright, who teaches classes on human sexuality and social psychology at USC, says easy access to sexual messages and images has shifted the bounds of what’s considered socially acceptable.
“It’s the pornification of mainstream society,” she said. “There’s more overt sexuality in our media, on television. More people have cable TV. More people are on the Internet.”