After leaving college I hitch-hiked around Europe for a couple of summers then I worked in Spain, in a bar in Blanes, which was a small village next to Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava. We met other travellers from Europe working in Spain and I got friendly with Tony who was working as a DJ in a night club in Lloret. He had a lot of female friends because he was gay.
After the summer season finished almost everybody decided to go back to their respective countries because the resorts closed down for the winter. However, Tony and myself decided to go to Morocco for the winter to look for work in Tangiers. We found a nightclub needing staff but we had to wait for visas before we could begin work there. We settled down to enjoy our stay in Tangiers, rented an apartment, and started to have some fun whilst we waited for our visas which could take up to 6 weeks.
We spent our evenings visiting other clubs, bars and cafes, and we both fell in love with the hypnotic Middle Eastern music and Middle Eastern dance (belly dancing) which in those days was danced in cafes and bars by young Moroccan males, as women were not allowed to show themselves in public. We found one particular nightclub which was mostly frequented by gays where Tony met and fell in love with a Moroccan guy. They spent all their time together until we discovered that the Moroccan was biding his time because all he really wanted was a threesome! Tony was devastated by this revelation, he was so upset that he immediately decided to return to the UK, but I did not want to leave Tangiers.
To persuade me to return home rather than stay in Tangiers alone, he suggested that I apply for a job at The London Playboy Club as he knew it well. He had spent a lot of time there with his Arab friends, including the Prince of Bahrain and other members of the Royal Family. He explained that it was a very prestigious job which he knew I would enjoy. So I was persuaded to return to London with him, then after finding a flat in Earls Court I applied to the London Playboy Club and was thrilled to be accepted as a trainee Bunny Girl.
The London Playboy Club was a wonderful place to work in the 60's and 70's and we were very well-paid. It was also a very safe place to work as we were protected from any advances by the customers and Playboy company policy forbade us to date any customers. It was extremely enjoyable work and in the 1960's and 1970's The London Playboy Club was frequented by all the famous TV and film stars of the time including Omar Shariff, Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore, Sammy Davis Jnr and many more. Wealthy Arabs including the Royal families of some of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest countries gambled excessively at the Casino tables where vast sums of money would change hands at the spin of a roulette wheel.
I began my training as a Cocktail Bunny and for almost a month trained as a cocktail waitress, which I found particularly difficult because we had to carry a tray of drinks balanced on one hand which could include bottles of wine, bottles of beer, as well as the glasses to pour them into and whilst carrying this tray laden with drinks, we had to do the 'Bunny Dip'. This was a manoeuvre where the Bunny had to lean over backwards (so as not to present her bottom or tail to the customers). It was very difficult to lean over a table backwards with a bottle of beer in our dominant hand whilst holding a tray balanced on the other hand, then tilt the glass using the lip of the bottle to pour the beer.
I found it very tiring, so I was really happy when Mike Bassett (the then Head of Playboy Gaming) took a shine to me and enquired if I would be interested in training as a Croupier Bunny. I was ecstatic as all along I had wanted to be a Croupier Bunny, so it was that I commenced my six-week training course on roulette and later learned to deal blackjack as well, although roulette remained my main game as a Playboy Bunny dealer. Each roulette table, blackjack table, crap, dice, every game in the Playboy Casino had an Inspector to watch that everything was conducted in and orderly manner, was ‘above board’ and fair.
My first week ‘on the floor’, I was thrown in at the deep end on the day shift. There was a small glass-fronted room known as 'Cartoon Corner' dominated by a roulette table which was the main draw for all the wealthy businessmen who loved to place bets at this roulette table using the minimum price chips (25p each). They piled the chips on all the numbers in stacks of 20+, it was impossible to see the table at all. I started off as a 'chipper' in Cartoon Corner which was extremely daunting as I had to try to pick up and re-stack all the chips before the Dealer finished adding up the winning bets, paying them out and began the next spin of the wheel. We often had two chippers at this table and it was still pretty hard going.
I worked hard all that week but thoroughly enjoyed it and because I was calm, cheerful and polite under stress I was chosen as 'Bunny of the Week' which was a weekly reward for bunnies whom the inspectors and other staff thought had made a good impression. I was thrilled because it allowed me to go on Playboy promotions which were glamorous events.
I went to a charity event being held at the Grosvenor Hotel which was almost next door to The Playboy Club in Park Lane and here I was photographed with Sid James, then the other Bunnies on the promotion and myself had our pictures taken with Roger Moore and Max Bygraves. The photo of Sid James with me hung at the entrance to the Playboy Club for several years as Jeanette who was the Bunny Mother loved it so much. The Bunnies also had an 'outdoor' costume which we wore at outdoor venues and I have a photo of the Bunnies supporting the Playboy staff football team.
Each year Sammy Davis Jnr would come to The London Playboy Club and hire the entire top floor for his private parties with many other stars in attendance. All the Bunnies who were able to attend were required to do so in their Bunny costumes. It was a dazzling event to look forward to. During our breaks, we were allowed to go and dance on the disco floor in our Bunny costumes, hence the job never seemed like work. We worked in 8 hour shifts as the Club was open for 24 hours and on the ground floor there was also a breakfast bar for customers and staff who worked the midnight-8am shift.
Another of the great things about being a Playboy Bunny was that we were treated like 'stars' and welcomed into all the top London Nightclubs in London for free. The other Bunnies and staff at the Club were very charming and friendly which was a bonus and groups of us would go out to nightclubs together to party in our free time. At the gambling tables, customers who were celebrating a win could put any tips into a tip box set into the tables and this money was used to create a monthly bonus system which was shared out to everyone who worked in the club from the cleaners, kitchen staff and busboys right up to Bunnies, Inspectors and Managers, which meant our wages were usually a minimum of £100 per week, a lot of money in the 1960's/1970's.
I left Playboy in 1970 (after getting married) to emigrate with my new husband to Australia. At that time in Australia there were only illegal casinos so I took a job with P & O Cruise Liners which entitled me to staff prices on the many exotic cruises which they operated. I went to Japan, Hong Kong, Fiji, New Guinea, Pago Pago and other exciting places.
When I returned to the UK in 1973 with the intention of starting a family, I worked for a while at the Park Lane Casino and then at the Knightsbridge Sporting Club where my old Playboy boss, Mike Bassett, had gone as Management along with other ex-Playboy staff. The uniform at Knightsbridge Sporting Club, although not a bunny costume, was quite impressive, a long tartan skirt with a frilly white blouse and I worked there as a croupier for a couple of years.
It was certainly a wonderful time in my life and I am very glad to have been part of that historic time in 1960's London as a Bunny at The London Playboy Club in Park Lane.
View Bunny Cleo photo album.