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A Playboy Bunny is a waitress at a Playboy Club. In the original Playboy Clubs that operated between 1960 and 1988, the Playboy bunnies were selected through standardized training and wore a "bunny suit" costume inspired by the tuxedo-wearing Playboy rabbit mascot. This costume consisted of a strapless corset teddy, bunny ears, black sheer-to-waist pantyhose, a bow tie, a collar, cuffs and a fluffy cottontail. In more recent Playboy Clubs, such as Sin City that was re-opened in 2006, Playboy bunnies wore slightly redesigned costumes that were based on the original bunny suit.
The original Playboy Bunny costume was designed by the mother of Ilse Taurins, who was a Latvian émigrée. At the time, Ms. Taurins was dating one of the Playboy Club co-founders, Victor Lownes III.
Ms. Taurins had suggested a costume modeled after the Playboy Magazine trademark, either a rabbit or bunny, and she had her seamstress mother make a costume prototype. The prototype was reviewed at a meeting attended by Playboy Club co-founders Hugh Hefner, Victor Lownes and Arnold Morton, as well as frequent Playboy illustrator LeRoy Neiman.
The outfits were not received well by the co-founders initially but Hefner advised that it could work once changes were made. The initial costume looked similar to a one piece swimsuit, with a white yarn puff tail and a headband with bunny ears, and Hefner suggested cutting the leg higher on the hip to expose more of the leg, and sharpening the v-shape of the costume. His suggested modifications were in an attempt to make the costumes more visually appealing, and the tightly laced corsets added to the feminine appeal, cinching in the Bunny's waist by at least two inches.
For mass production, the costume was manufactured for the Playboy Clubs by the Chicago-based Kabo Corset Company, and was based upon a "merry widow" style of corset within their line.
Later, in 1962, French fashion designer Renee Blot was retained to refine the design, and her revisions included making the ears smaller, adding a collar with bow tie & cuffs with rabbit-head cufflinks, and a satin rosette with the bunny's name, worn on the hip. The original costumes were made in 12 colours of rayon satin. Several years later, Playboy engaged a prominent manufacturer of lingerie and swimwear to create a modified bunny costume that used washable stretch knit fabrics, allowing for costumes in vibrant prints as well as solid colors. The standard stockings also evolved from fishnet material to a special sheer pantyhose style supplied by Danskin. Bunnies wore two pair of these sheer stockings, a black pair worn on top of a taupe toned pair.
Since 2013, a story has circulated attributing the original design of the Playboy bunny costume to New York fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes, however, there is no evidence to support this. This is also contradicted by recounts in much earlier publications such as "Big Bunny" by Joe Goldberg (1967) and "The Bunny Years" by Kathryn Leigh Scott (1998).
The bunny costume became a powerful symbol of the Playboy Clubs, and it was also the first commercial uniform to be registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. trademark registration number 0762884).
Behavior and trainingEdit
The Playboy Bunnies are waitresses who serve drinks at Playboy Clubs. There are different types of Bunnies, including the Door Bunny, Cigarette Bunny, Floor Bunny, Pool Bunny, Fine Dining Bunny, Playmate Bunny, and the Jet Bunnies (specially selected Bunnies trained as flight attendants; they served on the Playboy "Big Bunny" Jet). To become a Bunny, women are first carefully chosen and selected from auditions. Bunnies then undergo thorough and strict training before officially becoming a Bunny. Bunnies are required to be able to identify 143 brands of liquor and know how to garnish 20 cocktail variations. Customers are not allowed to touch the Bunnies, demerits are given if a Bunny's appearance does not meet requirements, and dating or mingling with customers is forbidden.
A Bunny also has to master the required maneuvers to work. These include the "Bunny Stance", a posture that is required in front of patrons, where the Bunny must stand with legs together, back arched and hips tucked under. When the Bunny is resting or waiting to be of service, she must do the "Bunny Perch," where she must sit on the back of a chair, sofa, or railing without sitting too close to a patron. The most famous maneuver of all, the "Bunny Dip", was invented by Kelly Collins, once renowned for being the "Perfect Bunny.” To do the "Bunny Dip," the Bunny gracefully leans backwards while bending at the knees with the left knee lifted and tucked behind the right leg. This maneuver allows the Bunny to serve drinks while keeping her low-cut costume in place. Strict regulations were enforced by special workers in the guise of patrons.
The uniforms were tailored to each Bunny at the clubs in which they worked and whenever the club was open, there was a full-time seamstress on duty. The costumes were stocked in two pieces, the front part being pre-sewn in different bra cup sizes, and the seamstress would match the Bunnies' figure to the correct fitting front and back pieces. The two pieces were then sewn together to fit each person perfectly.
There was a woman in charge of the Bunnies in each club called the "Bunny Mother". This was a human-resources type of function and a management position as the Bunny Mother was in charge of scheduling work shifts, hiring, firing and training. The Club Manager had only two responsibilities for the Bunnies – floor service and weigh-in. Before every shift the Manager would weigh each Bunny, and bunnies could not gain or lose more than one pound (exceptions being made for water retention). Playboy Enterprises required all employees to turn in their costumes at the end of employment and Playboy still retains some of these costumes in storage. Occasionally, costumes are offered for sale on the Playboy Auction site or eBay, but some of the costumes on eBay are known to be counterfeit or damaged. The only two costumes on public display are in the collections of the Smithsonian and the Chicago History Museum.
Reception and reviewEdit
The treatment of Playboy Bunnies was exposed in a piece written by Gloria Steinem and reprinted in her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. The article featured a photo of Steinem in Bunny uniform and detailed how women were treated at those clubs. The article was published in 1963 in Show magazine as "A Bunny's Tale". Steinem has maintained that she is proud of the work she did publicizing the exploitative working conditions of the Bunnies and especially the sexual demands made of them, which skirted the edge of the law.
The costume is popular in Japan, where it has lost much of its association with Playboy and is accordingly referred to simply as the "bunny suit" or "bunny girl outfit". It has frequently been featured in manga and anime; notable examples of characters who have been depicted wearing it include the title character of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kallen Stadtfeld of Code Geass, Bulma of Dragon Ball, Haruko Haruhara of FLCL, and the unnamed protagonist of the Daicon III and Daicon IV Opening Animations. The outfit is alluded to in the title of the series Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, and the character Mai Sakurajima is seen wearing one in its first episode. The suit is also popularly depicted in anime and manga fan art and merchandise, even for characters who are never seen wearing it in official works. Bunny suits are most frequently worn by female characters, but they are occasionally worn by male characters, usually for comic effect.
There are no Playboy Clubs in Brazil, but Playboy's Brazilian division has Bunnies who attend its events. For most of the 2000s there were three official Bunnies, and they were also Playmates — both separately, and together in the cover pictorial for the December 2008 edition. The last printed issue of the magazine, in 2018, featured the five Bunnies of the period on the cover.
Bunnies should not be confused with Playboy Playmates, women who appear in the centerfold pictorials of Playboy magazine, although a few Bunnies went on to become Playmates and vice versa (see below).
Return of the BunniesEdit
In 2006, The Palms Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas opened the first new Playboy Club in over a quarter-century, located on the 52nd floor of the Fantasy Tower. Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli was chosen to re-design the original Bunny suit. It closed in 2012.
Women who became famous and worked as Playboy Bunnies in their careers include:
- Alene Akins, ex-wife of Larry King
- Barbara Bosson, actress known for her role on Hill Street Blues
- Dale Bozzio, rock singer and musician
- Ava Cherry, singer, model, and muse of David Bowie
- Carol Cleveland, actress, Monty Python's Flying Circus
- Julie Cobb, actress
- Marilyn Cole
- Sherilyn Fenn, (was only a Playboy Bunny trainee) film and television actress
- Janis Hansen, actress who played Gloria, wife of Felix Unger, on The Odd Couple. Her character's past as a Bunny is talked about in the episode "One for the Bunny", originally aired on March 22, 1974.
- Debbie Harry, musician and actress. ("The girls there were part of the entertainment; part of the sort of mystique, the excitement, the naughtiness of it," she recalled. "But on the inside of that job, the girls were treated very, very well. There was a lot of benefits: health benefits, job security, good salary, good money. It was a very sought-after kind of job.")
- Gloria Hendry, actress
- Lauren Hutton, model and actress
- Lynne Moody, actress known for Roots
- Polly Matzinger, the originator of the danger model of the immune system
- Patricia Quinn, Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Dolly Martin, Playboy model and actress
- Maria Richwine, actress and first Latina Bunny
- Sabrina Scharf, actress, lawyer, real estate developer, activist, and politician
- Kathryn Leigh Scott, actress
- Carol Sharkey, U.S. Marine, mother of Jon Bon Jovi
- Gloria Steinem, became a Bunny as part of an undercover journalistic assignment
- Eve Stratford
- Susan Sullivan, actress
- B.J. Ward, who would later become a voice actress
- Kimba Wood (a Playboy Bunny trainee), a United States federal judge nominated for the post of U.S. Attorney General by Bill Clinton.
- Jacklyn Zeman, actress known for her role on General Hospital
- Tove Lill, Miss Norway and Mrs Universe who later became a Playboy Playmate and a bunny, also living with Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Mansion
Bunnies who were also Playboy Playmates
- Helena Antonaccio
- Deanna Baker
- Lannie Balcom
- Kai Brendlinger
- Jessica Burciaga
- Dianne Chandler
- Karen Christy
- Sharon Clark
- June Cochran
- Marilyn Cole
- Candace Collins
- Debbie Ellison
- Ava Fabian
- Jennifer Jackson
- Terri Kimball
- Avis Kimble
- Shay Knuth
- China Lee
- Janet Lupo
- Laura Lyons
- Connie Mason
- Avis Miller
- Laura Misch
- Kara Monaco
- Dolly Read
- Patti Reynolds
- Mercy Rooney
- Janis Schmitt
- Dorothy Stratten
- Heather Van Every
- Carol Vitale
- Delores Wells
- RYAN NAKASHIMA (2006-10-01). "New Playboy club opens in Vegas". Washington Post.
- "Playboy bounces back into London". UK Construction magazine. 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011.
- "India Gets Ready for First Playboy Club". CNN. December 21, 2012.
- Goldberg, Joe, Big Bunny: The Inside Sory of Playboy, Ballantine Books, New York, 1967.
- Handy, Bruce, May 2011, "A Bunny Thing Happened: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs", Vanity Fair.
- Scott, Kathryn Leigh, The Bunny Years, Pomegranate Press, New York, 1998, pp.54-55. ISBN 978-0-9388-1743-7
- Candace Jordan (4 March 2017). "Woman's History Month: The designer behind the iconic Playboy Bunny costume". Chicagonow.com. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- Julee Wilson (7 February 2013). "Zelda Wynn Valdes: Black Fashion Designer Who Created The Playboy Bunny Outfit (PHOTOS)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- Dominique Norman (10 May 2017). "The Influential Designer Behind the Playboy Bunny Uniform". Observer.com. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- "Aldbury: Be here now". Hertfordshire Life. Archived from the original on 3 May 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- "FAQ'S". Explayboybunny.com. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- "HistoryWired: A few of our favorite things". Historywired.si.edu. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- "Costumes". 2006-05-25. Archived from the original on May 25, 2006. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, pg. 29-69. Plume Books, New York City: 1983.
- Published in two parts, Part I and Part II.
- Steinem, Gloria. "'I Was a Playboy Bunny', excerpted from 'Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions'" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-27.
- "Interview With Gloria Steinem". ABC News.
- Visions Before Midnight. ISBN 0-330-26464-8.
- "Coelhinhas da Playboy" lançam revista em mercado de São Paulo
- Coelhinhas posam nuas em homenagem ao fundador da 'Playboy'
- "Larry King divorces Shawn Southwick: Meet the TV icon's slew of ex-wives". Daily News. April 16, 2010. p. 4 of 25.
- Kaufman, Joanne (November 16, 1987). "In the Market for Bitter Fruit? Hooperman's Barbara Bosson Seems Always to Harvest a Bumper Crop". People. 28 (20). Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Deirdre Donahue "They May Be Missing Persons, but Terry and Dale Bozzio Have Found Each Other" People Magazine Vol. 22 No. 22 November 26, 1984
- Facey, Fitzroy; Anderson, Derek (March 2020). "Fitzroy & Derek Anderson Speak With Ava Cherry". Soul Survivors Magazine. No. 86. pp. 16–20.
- Suddath, Claire; Sun, Feifei; Cruz, Gilbert; Rawlings, Nate; Romero, Frances (3 June 2011). "Top 9 Successful Ex–Playboy Bunnies". Time. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Clark, Mark (2012). Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Applause Theatre & Cinema. ISBN 9781557839633. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "Diamond Days". December 17, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
- "Sherilyn Fenn Biography". rottentomatoes.com. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Anders, Marcel (June 2014). "I was criticised for being too sexual. But it was innocent compared to today". Classic Rock #197. p. 54.
- "Playboy Holds Bunny Hunt in Asia". www.radaronline.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- DREIFUS, CLAUDIA (June 16, 1998). "A Conversation With Polly Matzinger; Blazing an Unconventional Trail to a New Theory of Immunity". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Carlos, Al (December 30, 2010). "FIRST PERSON: Maria Richwine: Latina Playboy Bunny Turned Actress". La Prensa San Diego. La Prensa San Diego. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- ROHAN, VIRGINIA (September 25, 2011). "Leonia mom looks back on life as Playboy bunny". northjersey.com. North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "B.J. Ward". metacritic.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Saltonstall, David (August 6, 1995). "Quite An 'Other Woman': Brilliant Judge'll Survive Steamy Divorce Scandal". New York Daily News. Retrieved Aug 28, 2013.
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