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Somebunny to Love

So – a lot, if not everyone, has heard that a new Playboy Club has come to Park Lane, London.  Playboy had become a global brand infiltrated into our consumer culture – even my Grandad has a Playboy cooking apron, which was a lovely discovery (it’s only a logo on a black background, nothing grotesque, don’t panic).

Predictably, not many people are interested in the ‘contemporary casino’ or restaurant – we’re either desperate to know who/how/what the new ‘bunnies’ are, or we’re ‘feminists’ and outraged.

I am, self admittedly, a hypocrite.  I seem to think the women who dress up are body confident, proud and are exercising a personal choice.  Simultaneously I assume the men who pay entry fee at the club and are served by these women are probably old, ugly, perverts or have a hideous personality type.  I’m sitting on what I like to think of as the two-faced, feminist fence (and, psst, I don’t mind admitting it as I’m pretty sure I speak for most girls my age).

Marchesa's Playboy costume sketch

Now firstly, let’s make it clear that these newly appointed girls aren’t doing the job as they’re desperate for money.  They were scrupulously auditioned, whittled down from hundreds of applicants.  The appointed bunnies undergo months of training – learning the ‘bunny dip’ (serving drinks with their backs to the table, over their shoulders, lest they appear a hussy by flashing their cleavage) and visualisation techniques to help quickly solve complex mathematical equations are taught to the bunnies gambling on the gambling tables.

Admittedly, I actually quite like the playboy outfit (by this I mean those silky, retro, official ones for fully-fledged bunnies – not the types you see on clans of girls staggering through town at 7pm).  Marchesa even released a limited edition design to celebrate the opening.  I think of them as retro, kitsch, and…well…sexy.  Am I right to think so?  Many have argued that this opening of a new Playboy Club is out-dated, regressive and more than a little pathetic.

Have we been trained to think the iconic Playboy Bunny is alluring and feminine?  Or do we actually believe there is an element of liberation in a girl being proud of her body and using it to stack up mouth-watering tips?  I’d think myself a hypocrite if I’m allowed to listen to skimpy-by-nature Katy Perry but then badmouth these girls.

Now, I don’t want to get into a feminist argument – although many would argue feminism is about CHOICE, no?  If they don’t mind being ogled, let them be ogled.  However, while researching this a little more, I discovered a fantastic website for Playboy Bunnies of the past – www.explayboybunnies.com.  This is brilliant.  Even more brilliant is a scanned-in employment guidebook for the bunnies, issued in the Detroit Playboy Club in 1968.  This lists what bunnies should do, not do, and who they report to (their Bunny Mother!  I’m not joking.  This is the equivalent of a staff supervisor).  Here are some of the more interesting pages:

‘Merits’ are awarded to good bunnies, and demerits given for those breaching their guidelines.  Looksee what you could have been ‘demerited’ for as a Bunny in the sixties:

Bunny Manual Page 15

The next page lists the strict rules on mingling with customers – including permitted dances (…I don’t know what a ‘watusi’ is):

Bunny Manual Page 16

Smoking is allowed (this is the sixties!  It’s GOOD for you), but only if you do it like so:

Bunny Manual Page 23

Girls.  Always keep hosiery in the fridge.  Common knowledge:

Bunny Manual Page 26

And finally, for those of you who didn’t notice, the Ex-Playboy Bunnies homepage has a picture of Debbie Harry on it (BLONDIE) when she was a wee bunny:

Blondie Bunny

I have to say, if I know nothing about the bunnies of 2011, I know the bunnies of the past clearly had a lot of fun and are very, VERY proud of their past lives.  They go to ‘After the Hutch’ reunions and post their pictures online for fellow ex-bunnies to find them.  I hope my career (using that word tentatively) leaves me with that sense of joy when I’m wrinkled up to the nines.

Bunny Carol, Bunny Georgia (Phoenix Playboy Club) & Bunny Jan (Miami Playboy Club) - courtesy of explayboybunnies.com

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2 Comments

  1. Eve

    This outrage seems to show the emergence of a confused feminism. It was OK to burn your bra and gain freedom, do what you want, but not if you want to dress like a bunny… That seems wrong to me, the whole reason people burned their Bras (I thought) was to show that women shouldn’t be restrained and should do whatever they want to do, even if this includes the park lane Bunny job.

    Like you say the Bunnies are trained for a long time, they know what they’ve signed up for, and have made the choice to embrace the job… as adult women their decision should be accepted, they aren’t being manipulated, and I assume they are most likely paid very well… It says on the BBC website they could gain up to 30,000 a year!

    Also one Bunny who was interviewed by the BBC said “the hours in which I work allows me to be a mother”.

    Is protesting the park lane Bunnies an insult to their intelligence? They have made an important choice not only for themselves but also in some cases for their families too. A choice that they have been able to have because of feminism…

    • THOROUGHLY agreed! I read an interview with one of them, who’s a student doing a masters but she also likes burlesque – so this was the perfect job for her to earn money to pay for her degree! It’s no worse than the girls who are paid to dance in music videos in bikinis – and I reckon the Playboy Bunnies are probably a lot better protected than those, and earning safe money. Let ’em get on with it.

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