Playboy Bunnies: 16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny
16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny

16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny

Trista - February 12, 2019

16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny
Ottawa Playboy Bunnies. Ottawa Rewind.

3. The Bunny Hiring Process Was Very Exclusive

The pay for Playboy Bunnies was advertised as $200 to $300 a week, which, at the time, was the equivalent of the salary of a Madison Avenue ad man, like Don Draper in Mad Men. Given the extremely high pay, there was an incredible amount of competition for the positions. Women had to meet the initial requirements of being thin and conventionally attractive and most often, white. They had to be, in the words of a Playboy recruiting poster, “not a broad or a ‘hippy.” The women had to meet the subjective standard of being sexually appealing without being lewd or cheap-looking.

If women met those standards, which few reportedly did out of over 400 in the initial hiring process, the women needed to also be between the ages of 21 and 24 and either single or married, no engaged or dating women were permitted. Women were then subjected to mandatory physical examinations by a physician to test for STIs, pelvic condition, the straightness of their legs, overall health, and more. It should be noted that none of these tests were required due to local or state regulations of waitresses at the time, they were unique to the Playboy clubs.

16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny
A group of Bunnies. Flickr.

2. Bunnies Were a New Type of Escort

A former Playboy Bunny, Kathryn Leigh Scott, reflected on the culture of the Playboy Club saying, “If you think about it, Hefner started his magazine when young men were coming home from the Korean War. A lot were the first in their family to go to college. They were entering a more cosmopolitan, sophisticated world, and he, therefore, started that magazine. It was sort of a primer for young men, giving them advice on what hi-fi equipment to buy, how to take a girl out to dinner, order in a restaurant.” Hefner took dancing girls and female escorts out of the seedy underbelly of dive bars and strip clubs and made them an unobtainable icon of beauty and culture.

Hefner was mostly single-handedly responsible for ushering in this new culture of high-brow escort services. The exclusivity of the club keyholders and the wealth needed to acquire a key made doors open for those who owned the keys. Only one in every four members who received a key ever actually visited a Playboy Club, just holding the key was enough of a status symbol to be influential.

16 Secrets in the Life of a 1960s Playboy Bunny
Playboy Bunnies on strike in London in 1972. Getty Images.

1. Bunnies Went On Strike

Since Playboy Bunnies were employees and not contractors, they could organize and strike, just like any other employees. So, in 1972, they did! Unsurprisingly, given the relatively hostile union conditions in the United States, it was the London Playboy Bunnies who first went on strike in 1972. The Bunnies were attempting to join the Transport and General Worker’s Union. As the London Club rapidly grew in popularity and earnings, the Bunnies wanted to join a union to ensure they were receiving an equitable share of the club’s profits and enjoying safe working conditions.

In 1975, Chicago Bunnies went on strike with different aims. The Chicago women wanted the freedom to date any man who frequented the club, not just C1 Keyholders, the freedom to use their own names as their Bunny names, and the ability to attend the clubs themselves as key holders. The Chicago strike was closely aligned with sex-positive feminism and the women’s liberation movement, the debate around which was raging across the United States at the time. The Bunnies argued that many of the rules from the club’s creation in 1961 were no longer appropriate and shouldn’t apply to the Bunnies of 1975.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Biography – Hugh Hefner

Refinery29 – Here’s What It Took to Be a Playboy Bunny Back in The Day

Little Things – 14 Rules Playboy Bunnies Were Forced to Follow According to A 1968 Club Manual

Business Insider – A Day in The Life of a Playboy Bunny, And How the Controversial Job Has Changed Over 60 Years

The Vouge – Gloria Steinem Knows Firsthand How the Original Playboy Bunnies Got Their Hourglass Shape

The Globe Mail – What Does the Playboy Bunny Suit Mean in The Slutwalk Era?

New Zealand Herald – Playboy Mansion: Bunnies Reveal Hugh Hefner’s Bizarre and Degrading Sex Rituals

Vanity Fair – A Bunny Thing Happened: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs

Medium – When Playboy Bunnies Ruled

Popsugar – A Former Playboy Bunny Shares 8 Secrets About the Job That Will Surprise You

Business Insider – Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Empire’s Rise & Fall

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