Bunny Beginnings - Page 2 of 5

Hef and the Chicago Bunnies, 1960. The original Bunny costume had oversized ears and was missing
the famous collar and cuffs.

The original Playboy Club in Chicago was patterned after the city's exclusive Gaslight Club, an elegant key club for Second City powerbrokers and VIPs. When Playboy Magazine ran an article about Gaslight in 1959, reader response was overwhelming. Playboy Promotions Director Victor Lownes pitched an idea to Hef: Why not bring the magazine's bachelor pad image to life in Playboy's own urban hangout?

Hef loved the concept -- but a key element was still missing. The "Gaslight Girls" served their male patrons in Gay Nineties-style corsets and fishnet tights, and the Playboy Club needed a sexy costume of its own. Hef's first thought was to have scantily-clad "Playmates" in nighties serving drinks, but a better idea soon came strolling in the door.

Ilsa Taurins, who was dating Lownes at the time, looked at the magazine's logo and suggested, "Why not dress them as rabbits?" Even though Hef had initially rejected the idea, Taurins tinkered with a costume design and had her mother sew one together. A few days later she entered the half-finished Chicago Club in a satin bodice, fluffy tail and headband with ears, and a new sex symbol was born.

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Photo by Don Bronstein. Text and images copyright of Playboy.com.