The brand is a symbol for sex, parties and glamorous women, but what’s it really like to dress up as a Playboy bunny and hop around in ears, a fluffy tail and an extremely unforgiving corset? Ahead of castings for new talent in Nottingham, we catch up with a real-life bunny working at the London club.
Playboy is an institution nearly as old as the man who created it.
Founded in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and associates, the glossy print magazine has expanded into an international brand and today has a presence across a plethora of media and even its own TV channel.
The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960 and spread around the globe, coming to London first in 1965 and being revived in 2011 with the opening of the latest London branch in Mayfair.
Now the London club is on the hunt for new bunny talent who can not only look good in the costume, but also put customers at ease and perfect the bunny dip, but personality is important too.
Playboy veteran and bunny boss Natalie Deegan, 28, has worked at the club for five years despite never intending to apply for a job there at all.
“I’m from Coventry and moved to London to launch a modelling career. A friend told me about the positions available at Playboy, so I decided to go along. At my casting there were about 70 other girls there which, of course, was intimidating. We didn’t have to wear the bunny costume though. It’s not as much about appearance as people may think, it’s really about showcasing your personality as well.”
Natalie was offered a position at the club and has worked her way up through the ranks, now boasting the esteemed title of head bunny, making her the main point of call for other girls working in the club, or as she likes to call it, their ‘agony aunt’.
“I now work across all areas of the club, so sometimes I’m on the door with the girls who are our VIP hosts, other times I will be in the casino or the restaurant. Because of this, I don’t really see myself as a manager because I’m always helping the girls out with the different roles.”
“IT’S WOMEN WHO ARE MORE IMPRESSED BY THE BUNNY COSTUME. THEY LOVE TO HAVE PHOTOS TAKEN AND ARE SO MUCH MORE COMPLEMENTARY”
NATALIE DEEGAN, HEAD BUNNY
To some, Playboy may seem like an over-sexualised brand with clubs frequented solely by men looking to flirt with waitresses and drool over their semi-naked bodies. Natalie explains it’s not as it seems: often it’s women who are more impressed by the famous bunny suit.
“People think a lot of things, but unless you came to the club and see what it’s like you would never really know. It’s not just men in the club, we get loads of groups of women in here out for drinks with friends. Women are more impressed by the bunny costume too. They love to have photos taken and are so much more complimentary.”
Image: Bunny girls wearing the famed bunny costume at the Playboy club, London
Despite the club being popular with women, Natalie appreciates that there are still negative connotations surrounding Playboy, but doesn’t think they are justified.
“I really don’t think any of the negative perceptions are true, mainly because we are a classy venue. We have a casino, restaurant and bar. The outfits that we wear may have been considered risqué in the 60s but it’s 2017 now. Girls who go on nights out with friends wear similar looking things in clubs, so there’s no difference.”
Natalie is now heading up a nationwide search for some new girls to don the bunny costume and work in the club, but explains that the interview process is nothing to be intimidated by.
“Girls don’t need to wear the bunny costume for interviews, they can dress however they feel comfortable. It’s more just a meet and greet and we will be explaining the different job roles in the club. What were looking for is girls with really big personalities that shine through.”
Looking at back to her interview five years ago, Natalie seems overjoyed that she got the job and looks forward to her future at Playboy.
“I plan on staying with Playboy for the foreseeable future, I’ve had such a great time over the last few years and have seen and done some amazing things, as do a lot of the girls. You can travel all over the world with Playboy, working events in Paris and South Africa. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience and is the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Video: Nottingham locals discuss if Playboy magazine is powerful or degrading to women
Images courtesy of Natalie Deegan