I Refuse to Make a Bunny Pun: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs

04/25/2011 2:59 PM |

these would never pass muster at todays furry cons
  • Playboy, Vanity Fair
  • Sexy ladies? Shiny outfits?

You will definitely want to check out this looong article in Vanity Fair about the old Playboy Clubs, because first of all, it’s called “A Bunny Thing Happened: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs.” It’s not entirely clear whether author Bruce Handy is poking fun at how goofy those things were, celebrating a specific cultural time and place, pointing out what a oddball Hugh Hefner is, or all of the above. But it’s a fascinating read, with lots of weird little tidbits. What immediately strikes me is how self-serious the whole enterprise was:

For Bunnies, behavior was codified by a series of Bunny Manuals that read like Federal Trade Commission rulings and dictated how Bunnies could smoke (one small puff at a time, the cigarette then resting in the ashtray, not the hand), how they could sit (on the back of a chair or resting a hip on a banister; this was known as the Bunny Perch), how they could stand (the Bunny Stance: one foot behind the other, hips squared), and how they could address members (“Smile and introduce yourself with the standard Bunny Introduction: ‘Good evening, I am your Bunny _________ (name). May I see the Playboy key, please?’ … Never express your request for a keyholder’s order in a crude and trite phrase such as ‘What’ll you have?’”)

There are some yuck moments:

As Hefner himself told me during an interview at the Playboy Mansion (it must be noted that he smells like baby oil)

Victor Lownes III was Playboy’s promotion manager, having joined the company in 1955. He was also Hefner’s close friend, sharing his tastes for nightlife, hobnobbing with celebrities, and obsessive-compulsive swordsmanship.

And some LOLs:

All that Hef wanted was, he wanted orange rugs. Orange was his color. He wore an orange sweater all the time. He just loved orange. And he had to have a chandelier.

Victor, without seeing an act sometimes, would book them. He would go to Variety and look at the reviews and if it said “socko,” he’d book them at $300 a week. If it was “wowsy” or something, $500 a week.

And some :(s:

MARILYN COLE LOWNES: In our day, you could be dismissed for being too fat, too thin, too old.

Or, as a Bunny Mother once told one of her charges—in this case a 28-year-old—“When you start looking wilted, you’re through as far as Hef is concerned.”

I don’t even have time to get into the thing with Hef and his scrapbooks, or the Latvian seamstress who came up with sticking a bunny tail on a swimsuit. Just trust me, it’s worth reading the whole thing.

You can follow me on twitter, if you want. I would say I fall somewhere between “socko” and “wowsy,” if I’m being honest.