I was a Playboy Bunny at the Park Lane Club in London, 1979/80.
I remember that first audition at the club in London. I had read the advert in “The stage” theatrical paper. I was at university studying Vet medicine. I had always been interested in glamour and the theatre, as my mother was a trained actress and dancer and had worked for Mosses Empires before she married my father. I also had studied dance from a young age.
The advert told girls to come with a bathing suit. I hated the idea of turning up all white in a bikini so I opted for a very high cut, black, long-sleeved leotard, black fishnet tights and black high heels.
When I arrived at Park Lane the queue of girls was four deep and snaked all around the building. There were literally hundreds of us. I didn’t really imagine I had a chance in hell of getting in, but I was so drawn in by the excitement of all the girls waiting out in the cold. There was the most amazing buzz, the noise was similar to a chicken farm, hundreds of girls chatting, giggling and laughing all at once. I don’t remember how long I waited to get in the building, but it was much more than a couple of hours.
When finally inside the Playboy building, we were directed to a large room. In this room were lines and lines of chairs. We were first told go and change into our “bathing suit” and then to fill in a form with all our details and then sit and wait.
At the end of the room there was a podium. Here we were called by our number, one-by-one, and photos were taken of us individually. First head and shoulders and then full length. I remember seeing some very gorgeous girls, much, much, prettier than me. But many of them did not how to stand and looked awkward there under artificial lights, in their bikinis and pasty winter skin tones. Many of them were cold and their legs had that horrible blue mottling that somehow only stockingless British girls seem to achieve in cold weather.
My best asset was my legs and I knew this. When it was my turn I stood as my mother had always taught me, one leg slightly in front of the other, one heel directly in front of the other, arch, slight bend of the knee to sit on one hip. Hands on hip, shoulders back, head slightly raised and turned and... smile! Click! Click! It must have been the combination of posture and fishnets because I was then through to the next selection round of the interview process.
Here we had to sit and chat with a couple of senior Bunnies one I believe was Erin Stratton, scary as hell she was, but very senior. We also had to do a small written test to show we had a bit of brain. I was selected as a Cocktail Bunny and scheduled to start training the following week.
The training was a surprise because after all those hundreds and hundreds of girls at the audition, I arrived to be part of a training group of no more than twelve or so.
Training was hard work and the most difficult thing for me (apart from remembering which glass went with which ice and which drink etc.) was the pinching of the bones in the costume. My costume was bright green and very, very, tight.
The Bunny Mother and wardrobe mistress were fabulous helping us dress and giving us tips on how to get our bosoms to swell correctly in the costume. Any Bunnies here know that was achieved with loo roll stuffed underneath. I loved having my hair done in the Bunny room by our hairdresser, as it made me feel very, very, special indeed.
Grooming was very high on the job requirements list as was punctuality. Before going on duty we had to report to the Bunny Mother and be inspected. Check cuffs, check nails, check, check, check. Once considered “perfect” we were then sent to work. I remember my leg shaking the first time I put my “Bunny Dip” into action.
One of the best things I learned there and still use today is the use of “American tan” coloured tights under black stockings. This really does give the leg a completely different look and makes your feet feel more comfy in the shoes. The shoes provided by Playboy were absolutely beautiful. I have never quite had another pair of black shoes like them. I also learned to walk well and do just about anything in high heels.
All Bunnies were given their own unique Bunny name and mine was Honey. I remember irritating my trainer because every time I had to say “Hello, my name is Honey and I am your Playboy Bunny!” it made me laugh. But the name had to stay.
I stayed at Playboy for about a year, but had a fabulous time. Then I went off to Paris and danced at the Moulin Rouge. I have also been a recording artist with Polygram and recorded two albums but later went back to school and I have been a TV producer and journalist for the past 15 years. I am a factual program maker and my work has covered not only the Mafia, the Colombian drug cartels but also the deaths Of Diana Princess of Wales and others. A far cry from my fluffy tail Bunny days!
I am currently married for the third time to a professional Argentine Polo Player and live on a farm in Buenos Aires with three of my four children. I commute between London and Buenos Aires for business.
Sadly, I do not have one single photo of my time with Playboy and have been trying to track down two Playboy articles in which I know I appeared. One was for The Telegraph and the other was for The Times (in their colour supplements) in 1979 or 1980.
Now with the “Girls of the Playboy Mansion” TV program and much more talk about Playboy, it brings back so many memories. I wish we could have a extra special BIG ex Bunny party and reunion at the Playboy Mansion. But that must be the mid-life crisis kicking in!
Laurence de Mello
With Gloria Gaynor
Album back cover
In St Tropez
On my farm in Argentina