Playboy Bunny test shot, presumably taken somewhere between 1967-1971. Notice the photographs of Beatles band members with a focus on John Lennon. This photo was eventually sent to Hugh Hefner as an audition for a spot as a magazine Playmate by this Playboy Club waitress.
When The Playboy Club opened in 1960, it held a place as America’s premier exclusive hotspot for high rollers from politicians to Mob heads, as well as Hollywood’s finest and business tycoons, among others. Holding a key to the club was an exclusive privilege and status symbol.
The club’s waitresses were known as Playboy Bunnies. Bunny duties involved extensive training on poise, good service and sex appeal. There were different types of Bunnies, including the Door Bunny, Cigarette Bunny, Floor Bunny, Playmate Bunny and the Jet Bunnies (specially selected Bunnies that were trained as flight attendants. They served on the Playboy “Big Bunny” Jet). To become a Bunny, women were first carefully selected from auditions. Then they underwent thorough and strict training before officially being welcomed into the Bunny circle. Bunnies were required to be able to identify 143 brands of liquor and know how to garnish 20 cocktail variations. Most dating or mingling with customers was forbidden. Customers were also not allowed to touch the Bunnies.
Many Playboy Bunnies often went on to pose for Playboy. Hugh Hefner would regularly stage auditions for the club’s waitresses, requesting interviews after receiving a series of test shots, like the one shown above, taken in a location of the bunny’s choice.
Many women who became famous outside of the realms of Playboy worked as bunnies early in their careers, including:
- Carol Sharkey: US Marine and mother of Jon Bon Jovi
- Patricia Quinn: Magneta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Shawn Southwick: Wife of CNN talk show host Larry King (interesting fact, King’s ex-wife Alene Akins was also a former Playboy Bunny.)
- Kimba Wood: a Federal Judge nominated for the post of U.S. Attorney General by Bill Clinton. She was only a Playboy Bunny trainee.
- Gloria Steinem: Became a bunny as part of an undercover journalistic assignment. The treatment of the bunnies was exposed by Steinem and later reprinted in her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions