October 10, 2011
Unlike the latest television perversion entitled, The Playboy Club, I can actually tell you the truth about being a Bunny and working in the Chicago Playboy Club in the 60s. If you're wondering why I bring this up 45 years after the fact, it's simple. One of my readers took exception with my article on GOP presidential candidate Richard Perry, and decided to go after the messenger rather than the message. I find it humorous that anyone would think exposing me as a Playboy Bunny in my youth should affect what readers think of my research and articles today. Apparently this individual believes it will negate my Christian conservative message. Half of today's Christian Right came out of the acid-dropping hippie 60s, not to mention the leftists that "never inhaled." Legalists like this man will brag on what they do or don't do, not on what Jesus has already done, and of course ridicule is a substitute for reason.
My friend and fellow writer, Jim O'Neill wrote this to me, "I believe that conservatives have to be on guard against allowing the left to paint us into a corner, put us in a box, or otherwise dictate to us who we are, and how we behave. All too often the Left are the ones who make up the rules of the game as they go along, and conservatives do nothing but react to their gambits. We simply must stop allowing them to tell us who, and what, a conservative is. They are constantly trying to put us in a grim, reactionary straightjacket -- as if being a conservative automatically makes one a hell-fire and brimstone prude, who is shocked at the glimpse of an ankle. It would be funny if it weren't such an effective tool." This goes for those of us who are Christian conservatives as well. And gasp! Some of the Bunnies were Christians who actually prayed together for our families and each other, as well as before shifts at the club!
So, let me tell you a little bit about what it was like being a waitress in a bathing suit in the 60s at the Chicago Playboy Club. And by the way, we were much more covered up than the girls on Oak Street Beach! We each had three Bunny costumes made just for us by the expert seamstresses who helped us dress for every shift. Basically, the uniforms were tight fitting corsets and were designed to enhance the attributes of each girl's figure as well as to conceal any flaws.
There are common misconceptions regarding Bunnies. Playboy Bunnies and Playboy Playmates are totally different. Bunnies worked in the clubs as waitresses, greeters, camera Bunnies and bumper pool Bunnies. Playmates were the centerfolds in the monthly magazine. There were some Bunnies who were centerfolds in the monthly magazines, but it was not a common occurrence. There were also Bunnies who spoke several languages and they worked on the top floor serving dinner to foreign guests. Every room in the Chicago Club had a manager who watched over all of us. A camera constantly scanned the area and the manager was able to watch over the entire room via the television screen. Bunnies were "untouchable" by the key holders and guests. We were the most protected women in the country. Most key holders knew the rules, but there were occasions where a few lost their keys forever. We were also never allowed to date any of the customers who came into the club. If we got caught dating a customer, we lost our jobs. [Link]
Most of the girls I worked with were either in college themselves, like I was, or were supporting husbands who were in medical or law school. I remember one lovely black gal, Patty, who was putting her husband through residency and they had four children! Many of the girls were also working and saving their incomes to open businesses for themselves. All of the Bunnies were intelligent, hard working women with definite goals for their lives.
Yes, we were the glamorous highlight of the era, but we were also the most chaperoned and sheltered working women in the country. When we went home at 4:30 in the morning, cabs were called for us and those who could walk home always went in groups even though the Chicago north side was always police patrolled and always busy with nightlife.
At the Playboy Mansion where I lived for a time, we had doormen who were always there to watch our entrance and exit. The "Bunny Hutch" at the Mansion was a dormitory for about 20 girls. We each had a bunk bed, locking closet and dresser as well as a huge living room and bathroom. We paid $50.00 a month and our food was prepared for us 24/7 at cost. We had full use of all the facilities, sauna, steam, swimming pool, exercise room, big screen TV and movies, etc. I had the pleasure of playing pool one night with Bill Cosby in the basement of the Mansion...we played for a nickel a game. I've always thought highly of that funny and kind gentleman whom I met again years later in Dayton, Ohio.
I could have ended up like pro-abort (Choice USA) political activist and ex-bunny feminist-on-steroids, Gloria Steinem! Her name is far more recognized than mine of course, but then I've never worked with leftist commies like Hanoi Jane Fonda, Social Activist and feminist Bella Abzug and mega feminist National Organization of Women (NOW) leader Betty Friedan. Thank the Lord for blessing me with a constitutionally conservative mother who brought me up as a Bible reading and believing Christian whose sins are "washed in the blood" of Jesus!
A few years ago the people at NBC who were putting together the PLAYBOY CLUB television show called me for some juicy inside tidbits they could use. Unfortunately, nothing I could tell them would be titillating enough for the provocative or risqué tales they desired for their purposes. Needless to say, it was a short conversation.
It was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Chicago Playboy Club in February of 2010. The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) called me for an interview since I had worked at the original Chicago Club on Walton Street. I had to go to the local NPR station inasmuch as they had the equipment to transmit clearly an interview that went "across the pond." I was asked a variety of questions for almost an hour and the last question she asked me was, "How did working at the Playboy Club affect your attitude toward the sexual revolution?" My answer was simple. "It didn't affect me at all. I was a Christian then and I'm an even more devout believer today." The entire interview ended up being only 10 minutes long with part of it being Hugh Hefner answering a few questions. Of course my last question and answer was omitted.
My closest friend and sister in Christ, Chey Simonton, put together a little photo montage of my life from then to now and I hope you enjoy it. [Link]
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And finally, attacking the messenger rather than the message is an old leftist tactic. Apparently this reader believes Rick Perry would make a fine president, but vilifying me for being a Bunny in my youth certainly doesn't taint the research or writing I do today. To disparage my articles because of where I worked 45 years ago seems farcical and asinine, but he has made it his latest life work to e-mail this information as far and wide as possible.
I'm still laughing because I loved being a Playboy Bunny and was proud that I was chosen, and if he believes this tarnishes the research I do today, well, I guess he can just kiss my ex-Bunny cottontail. My sweet wonderful Christian husband still tells folks that his wife was a Playboy Bunny and he also says, "By the way, she's a really good shot."
© 2010 Kelleigh Nelson - All Rights Reserved
Kelleigh Nelson has been researching the Christian right and their connections to the left, the new age, and cults since 1975. Formerly an executive producer for three different national radio talk show hosts, she was adept at finding and scheduling a variety of wonderful guests for her radio hosts. She and her husband live in Knoxville, TN, and she has owned her own wholesale commercial bakery since 1990. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Kelleigh was marketing communications and advertising manager for a fortune 100 company in Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she was a Goldwater girl with high school classmate, Hillary Rodham, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Kelleigh is well acquainted with Chicago politics and was working in downtown Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention riots.