Book of the Month: The Bunny Years

By J.C. Gabel

The forthcoming reissue of Kathryn Leigh Scott's memoir The Bunny Years paints an empowering picture of life behind the doors of the Playboy Clubs.

With The Playboy Club debuting on NBC, Simon & Schuster has decided to reissue Kathryn Leigh Scott’s trailblazing 1998 book, The Bunny Years, with a new introduction by Hugh M. Hefner. It’s no surprise the book remains popular—it’s still the most honest and accurate look at life inside the Playboy Clubs and their impact on everyone involved.

Scott, who “retired her satin ears” in 1966, wanted to write a memoir of her youth, but she also hoped to reframe the debate about the role of the Playboy Bunny in the postfeminist world. She was quick to realize that most of the women working as Bunnies felt liberated and empowered; they were brave enough to break out of the era’s stereotypical roles for women as teachers and housewives, and they earned salaries only men could dream of at the time. She recounts more than 200 first-person tales from former Bunnies including supermodel Lauren Hutton, singer Deborah Harry, journalist and “America’s foremost feminist,” Gloria Steinem—who went undercover for a misguided 1963 magazine exposé—and others who became doctors, lawyers and executives. Scott is no exception; she went on to become a soap opera star and then a book publisher.

“At the end of my second week, I was holding a check in my hands that represented my wages and tips,” Scott writes, “and it was more than my dad earned in a week.” That was unheard of in the 1960s, and Scott does a great job celebrating both the adventurous spirit of the prefeminist feminists who became Bunnies and the clubs’ role in launching their careers.

Read an excerpt below, then order your copy of the book today.

DEBORAH HARRY “Being a Bunny involved a rare combination for a woman in the workplace. It was an unusual perception of women that they could be beautiful, feminine and very sexy, and at the same time ambitious and intelligent. At Playboy those women had a place where they could use those attributes to make money–and also be really valued as employees. Bunnies were the Playboy Club.”

BONNIE JO HALPIN “Working at the Club was wild and crazy, and in the beginning we could barely accommodate the crowds. The girls were terrific, and we had so much fun together. We looked after one another, like a sorority. … I worked at the New York Club for about seven months. Gloria Steinem worked with me as a Door Bunny for a while. Although I’m now a fan of hers, at the time I thought the article she wrote about the Playboy Club was a terrible put-down. … When she asked me how I liked working at the Club, I told her that when I worked at Standard Oil in Chicago, I made very little money. At Playboy I earned $45 a night, plus tips, working as a Door Bunny–that was a lot of dough in those days! And Playboy changed my life.”


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