Hugh Hefner is reopening London’s Playboy club in Mayfair, 30 years after it closed down. An ex-bunny told TNT her tail….
“My father was horrified when I told him I was a bunny girl. He was a high-ranking police officer,” Barbara Haigh says. Well, this was the early Seventies when working for Playboy was considered controversial.
Little did Barbara’s father realise that these hostesses would come to represent a golden era, their bunny ears, fluffy tails and tux collars becoming synonymous with the flamboyant lifestyles of the rich and the famous who frequented Hugh Hefner’s prestigious casino in Park Lane.
It’s exactly that ambience Hefner is looking to recapture when he reopens a Playboy club in Mayfair next year – nearly 30 years after it was closed.
An original Playboy bunny
TNT tracked down Haigh, 61, who was one of the original bunny girls, working for the company from 1971 until 1982.
Recalling her interview at age 21, Haigh says: “I walked into the bunny room where people were in different stages of undress. I was told to get my clothes off – knickers as well!
“I was given a costume and a pair of high heels, which were too big for me, so I clip-clopped to the bunny mother’s office so she could look at me. I had to stand in all different positions – smiling so you could see my teeth.”
“Having big boobs helped”
“Some girls would have their teeth straightened or were told to have a nose job if they wanted the job. Having big boobs helped, to a certain extent – but the costume did the rest,” she continues.
Haigh, who now owns The Grapes pub in Limehouse, said her father refused to speak to her for six weeks after she told him the news.
“He came round in the end. I took him and my step-mother to the club for dinner,” she laughs.
“We went into the VIP section. All the directors were there and each introduced themselves to the table. He was quite taken aback how well-educated they were. He was very impressed.
“It was all very innocent – you could look but don’t touch.
“Seeing movie stars was commonplace.
“I’ve served Jack Nicholson, Lauren Bacall, John Wayne was in there once, Sylvester Stallone, Stevie Wonder, Tony Curtis.
“Of course we made a fuss of them, who wouldn’t?”
So does Haigh welcome the news of the new club? “Once you had your costume on, you felt like a million dollars,” she says. “It’s what we’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing else like it.”
London’s new Playboy club
The new Playboy club will be looking to recreate the success of the original which opened in 1966.
The gaming and entertainment venue will feature a restaurant, cocktail bar and members’ lounge.
And it will aim to cater to some of the biggest names in entertainment, sports and London’s elite.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said: “When we first opened the Playboy Club in London it was one of my favourite times for the brand.
“With Playboy now more popular than ever, I look forward to our return to London and again sharing the concept of good food and drink, pretty girls and exciting entertainment.”
– Carol Driver