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EDITIONS
Friday, 6 April, 2001, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
'I was a Playboy Bunny'
Hugh Hefner at the Park Lane club
Hugh Hefner at the Park Lane club
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is 75 on Monday. So what was it like to be one of the original Bunny Girls? Yvonne Wuamett recalls the stilettos, the fluffy tail and those ears!

My girlfriend saw an ad in the Evening Standard, looking for Bunny Girls, and she bet me a fiver that I wouldn't go.

Well, I did go, even though I didn't really know what a 'bunny' was - I was extremely impulsive then.

Yvonne Wuamett
Yvonne Wuamett: Once a bunny, now a gardener
At the time [1966], I was 18 and testing aeroplane skins in an Orwellian laboratory in Euston [London]. It was very depressing.

So I covered myself in fake tan, and bought a swimsuit and very high-heeled shoes.

There were just hundreds and hundreds of women gathered for the call-out - some very glamorous, some not so glamorous, but all very excited.

I was ushered into this very dark room, where John Dante [the Chicago nightclub impresario] sat at this rather large table. I had to walk up and down and strike a pose - yet I'd never struck a pose in my life.

He said, in this very American accent, 'Well, Yvonne, why do you want to be a bunny?'


The costume was little more than a very clever corset

I said, 'How very interesting it would be to wear this wonderful costume, just to be admired and absolutely nobody can lay a finger on you.' He must have thought that a very cool answer, because he hired me instantly.

We all had beautiful figures - I think that's why we got picked. Some of the girls didn't have very big bosoms, so they had to stuff their costumes with tissues.

I'm still very hourglassy, but I've got very short blonde hair and I'm quite wrinkled from working in the sun. I'm a garden designer now, living in a valley near Seattle.

Look, but don't touch

We were paid 1 an hour, which was an amazing amount of money then. But it was very hard work - eight-hour shifts in four-inch heels. I remember crying with the pain in my feet.


I still do the bunny dip sometimes, to give my friends a laugh

We had to do lots of training, such as how to carry a tray aloft and how to order from the barmen. And we were trained to bend over the table backwards - the bunny dip - so our bosoms didn't fall out of our bustles.

Before each shift, we'd be inspected by the Bunny Mother, who made sure our tails were perfectly fluffed and our nails were manicured and our seams were straight.

When sitting, we had to keep our backs very straight and cross our legs so they always looked lovely.

Everything was planned down to the last detail, with nothing left to chance.

Famous faces

The costume was little more than a very clever corset, with cuffs and bunny ears. It was a stylised, peculiar way of presenting femininity - quite odd, in fact, but everybody seemed to love it.

Sir David Frost enjoyed the hospitality of bunny girls
Sir David Frost enjoyed the hospitality of bunny girls
I sat on Michael Caine's lap for a photograph once - he muttered, 'I hate this sort of stuff' - and there was always tons of famous people in the club.

But the ones I remember most were the Arabs. They were completely new to us, a real novelty, and they were phenomenally rich. If they liked a girl, they would give her beautiful jewellery and flowers, wine her and dine her.

One took me out several times. I remember being ushered into restaurants by the fawning maitre d' - me, little Bunny Eve, in a blue wig and beaded dress from Oxfam.

Mirror images

There were always scandals about who was seeing whom, who was bopping who - the rules said that we really weren't meant to date anyone at the club, but we all did.

It was bizarre that we were moulded into this bizarre fantasy figure, but we didn't think about it much at the time.

After all, it was all so new, so glamorous, so highly publicised. We were always made to feel as if we were the most splendid creatures.

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Ex-bunny Yvonne Wuamett
"Nobody was allowed to touch us"


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