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Who invented the Playboy Bunny? Click on a question for the answer
When did the first Playboy Club open?
When did the last Playboy Club close?
Which cities had Playboy Clubs?
Which famous women have worked as Bunnies?
What is the difference between Bunnies and Playmates?
How do I become a Bunny?
How do I pose for Playboy / become a Playmate?
Where can I buy a Playboy Bunny costume?
What is Hef really like?
 

Who invented the Playboy Bunny?

Hugh Lucky Man!Hugh Hefner invented the Playboy Bunny. Playboy magazine had run a pictorial article on Chicago's Gaslight Club. In response to that article, over 3,000 readers letters flooded into the Playboy office asking how they could join this exclusive key club.

Victor Lownes, a Playboy Executive suggested to Hefner that Playboy should open a night club of it's own. Hefner immediately saw the commercial and promotional benefits. But also the personal ones: it is good for the ego to sit in your own nightclub as King Playboy.

Plans for a Playboy Club were begun in 1959. But the beautiful Bunny was not yet born. Seeking to maximize on the image Playboy was most famous for, it's Playmates, initial talk centred on dressing the Playboy Club's hostesses in revealing negligees and calling them 'Playmates'. But during a night-out, Victor Lownes' then girlfriend, Ilse Taurins, suggested to Hefner the idea of dressing the hostesses in the image of the tuxedoed Playboy Rabbit character. This Raffles Rabbit had featured on Playboy covers and in advertising spreads. Hefner answered that he had already considered the idea of Playboy Bunnies, but had disregarded it as 'too masculine.' Ilse said her mother, a seamstress could run up a prototype female rabbit costume for Hefner to inspect.

A few days later Ilse stood before Hefner, Lownes and a few other key executives in the prototype Bunny costume her mother had made. The effect was astounding. Hefner in a flash knew that he had his hostess uniform at last (he was particularly smitten by the tail). And so was when the first Playboy Club opened it was staffed by the most famous icons of the Sexual Revolution and a legend was born - The Playboy Bunny.

The Playboy Bunny costume is the only non-service uniform to have been granted a U.S. Patent. The Smithsonian and the Chicago Historical Society both have Bunny costumes on display.

Click here to see Bunny costume.

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When did the first Playboy Club open?

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago on 116 E. Walton Street. The doors opened for the first time on the leap year night of February 29th 1960.

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When did the last Playboy Club close?

The last  Playboy Club closed in Manila during 1991 

The last U.S. Playboy Club to close was the franchise in Lansing, Michigan. The last American Bunny dips took place on July 31st 1988.

If you count the failed Rhodos Playboy Casino, then the year would be 1999.

 

Which cities had Playboy Clubs?

The following cities were blessed with Playboy Clubs (in chronological order by date of original opening):

Chicago February 29th 1960

Miami May 20th 1961

New Orleans October 13th 1961

St. Louis October 16th 1962

New York December 8th 1962

Phoenix December 19th 1962

Detroit December 28th 1963

Manila, Philippines January 1964

Baltimore 1964

Kansas City June 13th 1964

Cincinnati September 16th 1964

Los Angeles December 31st 1964

Ochos Rios Club, Hotel, & Resort, Jamaica January 4th 1965

Boston February 26th 1965

Atlanta March 6th 1965

San Francisco November 13th 1965

London Casino & Club July 1st 1966

Montreal July 15th 1967

Denver December 9th 1967

Lake Geneva Club, Hotel, & Resort, Wisconsin May 6th 1968

Playboy Towers, Chicago November 1st 1970

Miami Plaza Club, Hotel, & Resort December 22nd 1970

Great Gorge Club, Hotel, & Resort, New Jersey December 22nd 1971

Clermont Club, London 1972 (not strictly a Playboy Club but non-costumed Bunnies did work there)

Portsmouth, U.K. December 1972Hello, my name is Joey, I was a Playmate Bunny!

Manchester, U.K. December 13th 1973

Tokyo December 9th 1976

Dallas July 27th 1977

Osaka, Japan February 1st 1978

Bahamas April 11th 1978

Nagoya, Japan July 16th 1979

Sapporo, Japan April 25th 1980

Atlantic City Hotel, Casino, & Club April 14th 1981

Buffalo April 24th 1981

St. Petersburg, Florida May 8th 1981

Lansing September 17th 1981

San Diego December 17th 1981

Columbus, Ohio December 7th 1982

Des Moines March 12th 1984

Omaha May 18th 1984

Please note: the above opening dates were based upon two sources:

  1. The Bunny Years by Kathyrn Leigh Scott
  2. The Playboy Book by Gretchen Edgren

But these dates cannot be considered conclusive. Kathyrn Leigh Scott's otherwise excellent The Bunny Years contradicts itself on the opening dates for four clubs (Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and London). The Bunny Years also overlooks the first Baltimore Playboy Club (which was damaged in a fire) and quotes the second Baltimore Playboy Club opening date. But the Playboy Book itself mistakenly cites the Miami Plaza opening in 1980 !!

In addition, most Playboy Clubs had re-opening dates as they were refurbished or moved to entirely new locations. See the article Bye Bye Bunnies for an explanation. 

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Which famous women have worked as Bunnies?

Deborah Harry - punk / new wave pop Goddess. New York Playboy Club, 1968-1973.

Lauren Hutton - the world's first Supermodel (first model to earn $1,000,000 per annum). New York Playboy Club, 1963-1964.

Jackie Zeman - actress (most notably in General Hospital). New York Playboy Club, 1970.

Kathryn Leigh Scott - actress, author and publisher. New York Playboy Club, 1963-1966.

Dr. Polly Matzinger - world renowned immunologist. Denver Playboy Club, 1969.

Susan Sullivan - actress. New York Playboy Club, 1963-1964.

Gloria Steinem - feminist writer, activist and publisher. New York Playboy Club, 1963.

Sherilyn Fenn - actress (most notably in Twin Peaks). Los Angeles Playboy Club (Century City), 1984.

Barbara Bosson - actress (most notably in Hill Street Blues). New York Playboy Club, 1963-1964.

Maria Richwine - actress. Los Angeles Playboy Club (Century City).

Gloria Henry - actress (most notably in Live and Let Die). New York Playboy Club.

Cynthia Myers - model and actress (most notably in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). Chicago Playboy Club.

Dolly Read - actress (most notably in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). Trained in the Chicago Playboy Club, 1966 and worked in the London Playboy Club, 1966, and the New York Playboy Club, 1967.

Patricia Quinn - actress (most notably as Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Lynne Moody - actress (most notably in Roots). Los Angeles Playboy Club (Sunset Boulevard).

B.J. Ward - opera singer and voice artist. New York Playboy Club, 1963.

Anthea Redfern - game show hostess. London Playboy Club.

Carol Cleveland - actress in Monty Python films and TV series. London Playboy Club.

Julie Cobb - actress. Los Angeles Playboy Club (Sunset Boulevard).

Stars who have dressed up as Playboy Bunnies: Cher, Farrah Fawcett, Sally Field, Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn, Kirstie Alley, Mariel Hemmingway, Carrie Fisher, Dudley Moore, Penny Marshall, Barbara Walters, Rosalind Russel, Tatum O'Neal, Roseanne Barr, Shari Lewis, Flip Wilson, Steve Allen, Bill Dana, Johnny Carson, Sandra Bernhardt, Joanna Kerns, Shirley Jones, Samantha Fox, Bob Hope, Carol Wayne, Benny Hill, Danny La Rue, the Smothers Brothers, Charlie Weaver, Steve Rossi, Mimi Hines, Marty Allen, Ruth Buzzi, Carol Channing.

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What is the difference between Bunnies and Playmates?

This is one of the most common misconceptions amongst those who know little of Playboy and it's history. The term 'Bunny' or 'Playboy Bunny' is often used synonymously as a descriptive term for any woman who has appeared au naturel in PLAYBOY. But Bunnies are distinct from Playmates who in turn are different from Playboy models.

 

A Playboy Bunny is strictly speaking a woman who has worked in a Playboy Club wearing the Bunny uniform. In the 31 year reign of the Playboy Clubs over 25,000 women wore satin ears and fluffy tails. Although many were asked, very few chose to become Playmates or models for 'Bunnies of... " pictorials in PLAYBOY.  The world may never see their like again... When referring to Bunnies and their environment use capitalization since the terms are proper nouns. 

A Playboy Playmate is a woman who has appeared in the centerfold pictorial of PLAYBOY magazine. A Playmate can only be correctly called a Playboy Bunny if she has worked in one of the Clubs.  Quite a few Playmates donned the Bunny ears and tail. There were over 25,000 Bunnies in Playboy's history and there are over 550 Playmates. Playmate Bunnies include our own Candace Collins  79' who also did 3 Covers& Karen Christy 73'  

Pamela Anderson, Marilyn Monroe and Jenny McCarthy were Playboy Playmates but NOT Playboy Bunnies. 

A Playboy Model is a lady who has posed nude in a Playboy pictorial but not the centerfold. Many Playmates have appeared in Playboy pictorials before and after posing for the centerfold. Therefore Farrah Fawcett, Bo Derek, Cindy Crawford, etc. have all modeled for Playboy but are neither Playmates or Bunnies. In the strictest sense, a Playboy Model is a woman contracted to the Playboy Modeling Agency. It is therefore not strictly accurate to call celebrities by the term Playboy model if they have posed for Playboy.

To confuse matters further, many recent Playboy Playmates and models have worn the Bunny costume for Playboy promotional events such as the LA Lakers celebration party, Hard Rock cafe openings, Spring Break festivities and the cancelled 2000 Democrat Presidential Fundraiser at the Los Angeles Playboy Mansion. 

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How do I become a Bunny?

Unfortunately there are no more Playboy Clubs and therefore no Playboy Bunnies.

In 1999 Playboy briefly re-entered the casino industry with a new Playboy Casino, staffed by Bunnies, on the Greek island of Rhodos. Unfortunately the casino was not a success and Playboy pulled out of the venture.

But Playboy, aware of the timeless elegance and the sexual magic of the Bunny image, currently use Playmates and models in Bunny costumes for promotional appearances. But alas, there are no more Playboy Clubs in the world today. However Playboy may still be planning to open Playboy Casinos (with Bunnies) in Las Vegas and London, England. The London plan was postponed after Playboy's proposed partner, Ladbrokes, was sold by it's owner, the Hilton Group to the Gala Bingo company. Playboy may have temporarily abandoned plans for a physical Club or Casino to concentrate efforts on their online gaming and sports betting sites.

Age requirement:
 18-24
In some Playboy Clubs the minimum age for a Bunny had to be 21 because of State Liquor License Laws. In the Chicago Club the age was 18 to serve liquor while 21 to consume it.  The range 18-24 was the Bunny hiring age. Some women over 24 were hired as Bunnies while many Bunnies hired when they were young stayed Bunnies into their late twenties and even late thirties. The average Bunny 'Tour of Duty' was around 6 months. Some girls however stayed for over ten years. A few Bunnies were still Bunny-Dipping into their thirties, providing they still met the 'Bunny Image' - the young, fresh and beautiful appearance.

Height: No stipulation
The height of a woman was really of no consequence in the hiring policy. Bunnies came in all heights, from 4'10" all the way up to over six feet tall in their stocking soles.

Weight:  
A Bunny had to be slim. Bunnies were regularly weighed to ensure they were maintaining the requisite 'Bunny Image', which included a Bunny to be slim and to take good care of her hair, nails and skin. Bunnies had to be slim but sexy. The costume took care of the curves.

Bra size: Unimportant
A common misconception is that Bunnies had to have naturally large breasts. Many were blessed, but if thay weren't those cleavages were achieved by stuffing and more stuffing of various kinds of padding (Stockings, tissues) into the cups of the Bunny costume. 

Extra: Of course the primary attribute looked for was physical beauty. But Playboy also wanted girls who were personable. Girls with a cheerful disposition were wanted and indeed such personalities were necessary to allow the Bunny to do a long eight hour shift. Provided an applicant was slim, beautiful and a 'people person' she would be hired. No previous experience was needed as Playboy had it's own meticulous Bunny Training Program. 

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How do I pose for Playboy / become a Playmate?

For information about becoming a Playmate or a Playboy model, please see the official Playmates FAQ. For a general overview of Playboy Enterprise International Inc. (PEII) please peruse the official Playboy Help pages. If you have a dream follow it... Hugh Hefner did and the rest is history. Good luck!

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Where can I buy a Playboy Bunny costume?

Original Playboy Bunny costumes are very rare. Legend has it that Playboy mostly shredded or (more likely) put into storage the thousands of Bunny costumes they owned when the Clubs closed.

But there are Playboy Bunny costumes in circulation. A few Bunnies were given their costumes as a reward (for their years of good service) after they retired from Bunnyhood. It is these costumes that occasionally appear on the Playboy and eBay auction sites.

Most Bunnies who did receive their costumes as a parting gift continue to keep a hold of these valuable mementos from that special time in their lives. But some do sell their costumes.

Look for real costumes occasionally sold (both by private sellers and sometimes by Playboy) on the Playboy Auction site: http://auctions.playboy.com.

And also on eBay, http://www.ebay.com. But be aware that on eBay many sellers mistakenly (in innocence) or deliberately (to deceive) call ersatz costumes 'authentic' or 'original.'

A sure sign that a costume is authentic will be it's selling price. A complete Bunny costume (bodice, ears, tail, collar, bow-ties, cuffs, cufflinks, name tag rosette) may sell for as much as 10,000 as the one one Playboy's site did. 

 

What is Hef really like?

Charismatic, charming, funny & smart, but not great boyfriend or husband material unless you don't mind sharing . 

 

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