Down the Rabbit Hole: The Surprising Tale associated with the Bunny Suit

Down the Rabbit Hole: The Surprising Tale associated with the Bunny Suit

Like Hugh Hefner himself, Playboy’s iconic costume had been a blend of provocative and conventional.

From the first problem in 1953, Playboy’s publisher Hugh Hefner desired to differentiate it through the sleazy intercourse mags saved beneath the newsstand counter and offered in brown paper bags. He once explained in a tuxedo “to include the thought of elegance. which he opt for bunny while the magazine’s mascot “because for the humorous intimate connotation,” but dressed him” The models might have been nude, nevertheless the articles had been published by acclaimed writers like Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and Vladimir Nabokov and covered highbrow topics including “Picasso, Nietzsche, and jazz,” to quote Hefner’s basic editorial. Also JFK read it.

Similarly, as he started their very very very first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1960, Hefner emphasized respectability above raunchiness—a preference commonly noted by authors reflecting on their legacy after their death at age 91 week that is last. The Playboy Club ended up being a dinner club, perhaps perhaps not just an intercourse club; coats and ties had been needed. Though only males could possibly be members—or “keyholders,” in Playboy parlance—they could bring feminine visitors. The buffet offered legs that are crab filet mignon, and activity was supplied by famous brands Nat King Cole, Steve Martin, Aretha Franklin, Billy Crystal, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Probably one of the most iconic symbols of this Playboy Club ended up being its waitstaff: a throng of females known, and dressed, as Bunnies.

Similar to the groups by themselves, the mag whoever title they shared, while the guy whom created the whole thing, the clothes used by the Playboy Bunnies were a mixture of old-fashioned and provocative. Since its first, the Bunny suit—a strapless bodysuit paired with rabbit ears and a fluffy tail—has become a cartoonish clichй of female sex, serving as being a artistic punchline in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, The House Bunny, and a bunch of other rom-coms. However the Bunny’s allure that is erotic the maximum amount of of a tease given that stuffing that so frequently filled out of the D-cups of her costume. Her skimpy suit promised further revelations that never came; her cuddly demeanor concealed the Bunnies’ circuit training, strict disciplinary policies, and astronomical paychecks. If feminists remain arguing over whether or not the Bunny suit had been liberating or constricting, it’s since it had been built to be both.

Based on Kevin Jones, the curator of this Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum, Hefner initially wanted the club’s waitresses to put on short, frilly nighties inspired because of the Ziegfeld Follies girls—the intercourse symbols of his youth. But, as recounted in Kathryn Leigh Scott’s memoir The Bunny Years, Playmate Ilse Taurins—who had been dating the organization’s promotions director, Victor Lownes—pointed out that most those flimsy levels is not practical for serving products and light cigarettes. It absolutely was her concept to dress the waitresses as distaff variations for the magazine’s masculine logo design. The bunny became a Bunny, as well as a symbol came to be (and quickly patented—a first for the solution uniform).

The first prototype—a satin one-piece used more than a prefab Merry Widow corset and paired with bunny ears and a fluffy tail—looked too just like a swimsuit. A couple of snips associated with leg was raised by the scissors opening, elongating the feet, accentuating the crotch, and eliminating any resemblance to swimwear. Hefner himself insisted on including the lacing that is criss-cross the top of the leg, stated Jones, who has got a Bunny suit in their museum’s collection. Although the laces were solely decorative—they couldn’t be untied or loosened—they revealed that even more epidermis, and proposed the tantalizing likelihood of a wardrobe breakdown. A rosette title tag in the right hipbone and dyed-to-match satin pumps finished the ensemble. Nonetheless it had been the addition of a tuxedo that is man’s, bow tie, and cuffs in 1961 that forced the Bunny suit into pop-culture legend.

“Everybody has this concept that the club ended up being extremely intimately liberated,” Jones said. The truth is, it had been pretty place that is tame—a flirting at most of the. Therefore had been the Bunnies. The spouse of just one keyholder declared the typical Bunny to be “so darn nice and respectable, you’d even allow your bro marry her.” However, the mixture of overpriced cocktails and underdressed waitresses became a winning formula. Groups multiplied like rabbits; ultimately, there is a lot more than 30 Playboy-branded groups worldwide, in addition to gambling enterprises and resorts.

The presidential Papers, Norman Mailer described the Bunny suit thusly in his 1963 book

a Gay-Nineties rig which exaggerated their hips, bound their waistline . and lifted them right into a phallic brassiere—each breast seemed such as the big bullet in the front bumper of a Cadillac. Long black stockings, long stockings, up almost into the waistline for each part, also to the trunk, from the bend regarding the might, just as if ejected tenderly through the human body, ended up being the puff of chastity, just a little white ball of the bunny’s end which bobbed while they strolled.

It had been a flattering if constricting design; Lownes observed that “the costumes took girls with also typical numbers making them appear to be that they had amazing numbers.” Their remark is telling; only a few Bunnies had been bombshells. The , perhaps not one other means around.

From one, “the suit was a throwback,” Jones told me—to the 1950s if not the Gay Nineties day. The silhouette that is fashionable of 1960s ended up being boyish, not curvy. Shapeless shifts and ballet flats might have been extremely popular regarding the runway, but within the club, it absolutely was perpetually 1953: hourglass numbers, bullet bras, and three-inch heels. The only real concessions to fashion were the Bunnies’ bouffant hairstyles, topped with artfully ears that are angled.

A team of Playboy Bunnies line up for assessment by Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy mag, into the main space associated with Playboy Mansion in Chicago. Hefner is inspecting the newest improved fabric for the costumes. (Bettmann / Getty Pictures)

Early site visitors towards the Playboy Club picked through to its dynamic that is heady of and nice

Newsweek called it “a Disneyland for grownups.” Properly, the dress rule for feminine workers had been just like strict and step-by-step while the entertainment park’s famously rigid sartorial requirements. Every thing ended up being spelled call at careful information in a Bunny handbook and enforced by way of a Bunny mom, whom inspected each Bunny from mind to toe before her shift. Makeup products and fat had been closely supervised. Nail enamel, jewelry, and eyeglasses had been strictly forbidden, though hairpieces had been encouraged. Cuffs and collars needed to be spotless and starched; the rabbit logo design cufflinks had to “kiss,” or face one another. Bunnies had been in charge of purchasing their particular (tax-deductible) satin pumps and achieving them colored to fit their matches and ears, which arrived in 12 colors that are different. “Our set is actually telling given that it’s totally spattered with spilled products,” Jones stated associated with costume when you look at the FIDM Museum. “They will need to have been changed a great deal.” Dirty shoes, laddered stockings, along with other infractions incurred demerits, which may result in a Bunny being fined if not fired.

Not even close to being exploited, the Bunnies “were really well protected women,” Jones said. They might are attention candy, however they had been supposed to be (literally) untouchable. Bouncers kept tipsy keyholders from groping or tails that are grabbing. (the initial yarn tails had been changed by fire-retardant fake fur by 1969 because “customers had been constantly wanting to light them,” Bunny Alice Nichols recalled within the Bunny Years.) Touching a Bunny ended up being grounds for expulsion. And Bunnies had been strictly prohibited from dating clients, entertainers, or any C-suite degree Playboy employees. They didn’t require sugar daddies, anyway—they made more in guidelines within one evening than the usual salesgirl at Bloomingdale’s could make in 2 months, based on Scott.

Certainly, the Bunnies’ bare, buxom image had been constantly an impression. The suit just arrived in 2 cup sizes: 34D and 36D. But those cups had been designed with pouches to facilitate stuffing. (In “A Bunny’s Tale,” her 1963 exposй for Show mag, undercover Bunny Gloria Steinem recalled the club’s in-house wardrobe mistress telling her that “just about everybody stuffs” while shoving a whole plastic dry cleansing bag down the front side of her suit.) Bunnies are not allowed to flex ahead, lest their assets (or stuffing) spill down in a tawdry display; in any case, the suit’s tight, boned bodice would have managed to get uncomfortable. Alternatively, they certainly were taught to perform a number of elegant, abnormal techniques like the “Bunny Dip” and also the Crouch that is“Bunny permitted them to just just take purchases and serve products without ever bending during the waistline. Though their cleavage had been offered through to a satin platter, Bunnies were cinched in and covered up through the upper body down, using sheer black colored Danskin pantyhose over flesh-toned Danskin tights, in accordance with Jones.

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