Sadly Sonja passed away in November 2004. She is fondly remembered and much missed by all who knew her. The biography she kindly penned for this site is here presented in memorial.
I was born in
Munich, Germany. German is my 1st language, Russian my 2nd, English
my 3rd. I love languages: I am now learning Spanish here in Santa
Barbara, and also as much Italian as time allows. My family moved to
America and in 1972, I became a naturalized US Citizen, living in
Before I became a Bunny I was an Eastern
Airlines stewardess. I wanted to be a Jet Bunny. As a stewardess I
already had most of the excellent high-end executive customer service
skills required of Playboy Bunnies. Playboy was looking for beautiful
women, but women who could provide very professional customer service.
San Francisco is a very international and liberal city and I knew it
would be the perfect place for me to become a Playboy Bunny.
I always loved
wearing my bikini to the beach, and the Bunny costume covered more, so
no-one was very surprised or scandalised by Bunnies in the 1970s. It
was a wonderful, liberal time for women. Both of my parents were
dating much younger mates and were proud of their pretty daughter. It
was a time of love and sexual freedom for women. My Bunny salary was
higher than at Eastern Airlines. And there was prestige in being a
Bunny! I was invited to the Playboy Mansion West in Los Angeles and
met and partied with many celebrities. In 1973/74 my salary for a
30-hour work week was around $1,500 per month. At that time I had only
a high school diploma.
My Bunny Training
consisted of two weeks of focussed customer service, including how to
walk in the costume and mastering the famous "Bunny
Dip": always bending backwards, never forward (no boobs in
anyone's face). It was very similar to my Eastern Airlines Training as
regards safety, company image, and high-end customer service. It was
part of the entertainment industry. Public speaking, serving with a
smile and happy attitude towards the customer.
Being a Bunny
involved adhering to strict, yet necessary, rules; no customers were
allowed to touch the Bunnies. There were managers and security
positioned all around the club including protective bartenders. The
customers were successful professionals mostly, and aside from the
occasional drunk, fairly well behaved. Of course we Bunnies were
another story for another paper! We received so much attention. Most
of the Bunnies married professional men. My husband is an architect
who I met when I was a stewardess for Eastern Airlines. However he was
very proud (and still is!) of his beautiful wife the Playboy Bunny!
Wouldn't your boyfriend be?
downside to being a Bunny was that too many men flirted with you. We
never gave out our last names or any personal information. Men always
wanted to know where we lived. We mostly lied about personal
information. The Playboy Club always encouraged confidentiality. My
name is spelled "Sonja" but I was "Bunny Sonya".
Many of the Bunnies used different names given to them by management.
When I was hired the manager liked my name and thought it fit me and
our club mix of Bunny names so he just changed the spelling.
I worked many
Bunny promotions at the Playboy Mansion, for community charities, etc.
My favorite event was a basketball game featuring
Playboy Bunnies vs. The Harlem Globetrotters.
I'm only 5'3", and this 7'3" player named Jake carried me on his
shoulders throughout the game and then actually carefully placed me
through the hoop to score. Naturally I fell in love with him and he
was my boyfriend for a while. The charity was for a sports park for
poor kids in San Francisco. At the award ceremony Jake carried me in
my Bunny costume to give the sports park director the check. He gave
me a very passionate kiss. The kids screamed with delight.
One night, whilst
on duty as a Door Bunny at the San Francisco Club, I was waiting for
the last keyholder to pick up his coat, a very drunk handsome man and
his very jealous date had a fight. She starts to scream at me and
thinks I am is his mistress! The Police came to the club, the press
took pictures, and as you can guess, the front page read: "Bunny
breaks up Marriage of Keyholder." I may have broken up some marriages,
but I never met or ever saw this couple again. Ah, but such were the
daily embarrassing moments of the life of a Bunny!
There was a fire
in the kitchen of our third-story San Francisco Club on Market Street.
The San Francisco Fire Department came
right away and quickly "saved" all the Bunnies. I had my camera the
night of the fire and have great pictures of the event. Again, as an
experienced Stewardess, I had emergency evacuation training and did go
in and help calm the keyholders and their guests. Luckily everyone was
fine. The firemen gave us all a ride in the fire truck and it was a
great night in San Francisco when the Playboy Club caught fire in
I remember a
young man who used to come in every night all alone. He gave many of
the Bunnies gifts, he just stared at us mostly. I worked the door and
always asked him for his key. We figured he was just lonely. Nothing
ever really happened but it makes you wonder how many men have "dream
lovers" like Playboy Bunnies instead of "real lovers" to give gifts
After my Bunny
experiences I went on to achieve a Bachelor of Science degree from the
University of Oregon, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, Honors (Germans
are naturally smart, or so my German mother has always told me!) Later
I also attended the Pepperdine School of Law.
I have a law degree in Mediation (I work for the Santa Barbara County
Government as a "fairness hearings" mediator). I have also worked as
an actress. I have been Disney characters; Snow White and Esmeralda
(from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"). I was have also been a drama
teacher at community college and also a teacher for
AmeriCorps (the Program started by
President Clinton that brought professionals to domestic schools). I
am the Membership Director for Presbyterian Church USA (from the
Church of Scotland) in Santa Barbara, CA. But my main vocation today
is as the Mediator for Social Services Administration for County of
Santa Barbara, CA. But I still like to occasionally exorcise my acting
skills: my son Ryan Delk is a film & TV productions student at New
York University Tisch School Of Arts and I have appeared in many of
his award-winning films.
experience has certainly something to brag about all my life. I kept a
black velvet costume from the VIP Room (multilingual Bunnies worked
the VIP dining rooms of the Playboy Clubs). Many of my friends have
worn it to parties, etc. I love this part of my "past." My grown sons,
love looking at the pictures and talking about old "sexy Playboy
Bunny". I enjoy hearing from past Bunnies and many many school "boys"
write to me with school projects. The people I have met and still meet
make being a former Bunny fun! I am happy with my body, enjoy my
personality, and like to have fun in whatever job I have chosen.
Receiving attention from men and women is a wonderful feeling. I have
been so fortunate to have been brave enough to audition and be
interviewed for such dream jobs as Playboy Bunny and stewardess. I
feel like a powerful, strong Woman of Choice. Hugh Hefner had a great
idea in the 1950s, let us liberate women, let them be sexy and
smart, enjoy sex, each other, and have fun!
My daughter is a
beautiful young woman today, I would love for her to be anything she
wants to. Yes, I would love for her to be a Bunny and enjoy all
attention I did. She loves to travel and I think she would love being
a stewardess as I was. She grew up in the Bay Area and now Santa
Barbara, so like me too, she loves beautiful places. The Playboy Clubs
were run with high expectations placed upon their employees. I think
my daughter would enjoy the experience and be a beautiful, smart,
perfect Bunny. I don't know if she would choose that for herself, she
is only fifteen and hardly interested in boys yet. This Mom believes
her daughter and all women should choose for themselves what they want
to do with their young lives. After all being a Playboy Bunny was not
a life-time commitment.
My advice to
women is stay healthy, drink plenty of water, eat natural fresh foods.
Treat yourself to facials, pedicures, spas and many vacations. Stress
puts years on your face and body. Find time for yourself. I love to
show old pictures of my Bunny years and stewardess years. Mostly
people think of those careers as being for "perfect" women. Jobs only
for those with perfect eyesight (Bunnies who needed glasses were
required to wear contact lenses), beautiful skin (no cold sores or
pimples allowed on flights or the Bunny floor), beautiful legs
(mini-skirts were my Eastern Airline uniform, and of course Bunnies
wore stockings all the way up), and beautiful, natural breasts. There
were not too many boob-jobs in the 1970s (Carol Doda from San
Francisco was the only one I knew of back then). We were naturally
busty, not as skinny as some of the young models today. Ask any man,
they do like breasts more than a super skinny waif. But "beauty" of
course is in eyes of beholder (or keyholder!). But as every woman
knows, there is no such thing as "perfect". There is a lot of effort
and time that goes into making yourself beautiful. Every Bunny took
great care over her appearance in and out of the Bunny Room in order
to create the magic that made the Playboy Clubs so successful in their
time. Keep your body healthy, (inside and outside) and the results
will show. You will feel fantastic!
Hugh Hefner had a
great idea. Men love the beautiful "girl-next-door-natural-beauty"
look. We Playboy Bunnies are your mothers and grandmothers. We led a
fun, glamorous life. Women, love your bodies, love each other.