A keyholder's joke provokes merriment among revelers and rabbits in the Playmate Bar. Playboy, June 1965

Lownes, who pushed the key-club concept after a piece in the magazine about the Gaslight Clubs drew 3000 letters from readers, has vivid memories of opening night in Chicago.

"We were all very pleased with the crowd, and we went around to some of the other places we knew, to make sure that none of our friends were at those places. Heaven forbid! When Arnie and I got back to the Club, the girls had taken off their Bunny ears and were working without them. They said they gave them headaches. Arnie laid down the law, told them to put the ears back on, and for the next 25 years we never heard that complaint again."

Several of the women who worked as Bunnies that night recall that the tight headbands to which the ears were attached were indeed uncomfortable -- but their main complaint was the cold.

"We literally froze our tails off," says Joyce Nizzari, Miss December 1958 and a Door Bunny that night. "There was such a line to get in that the doors were always open, and snowflakes were drifting onto the Bunnies’ costumes. On breaks, I would hightail it to the kitchen and just stand in the heat there to thaw out."


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photo by O'Rourke

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