The atmosphere was buzzing; the opening of the London Playboy Club was the talk of the town. Newspapers were bursting with the latest gossip, demonstrators walked by with ‘BUNNIES GO HOME!’ banners, speculators were investing, members were clamouring for their prestigious keys. Misanthropes, capitalists, fun-lovers and punters were raring to go. An angry feminist group threw a harmless bomb. It all made for good publicity – the great ally of success.
Meanwhile, in one of the club’s dimly lit, red gambling rooms thirty eager young women were being trained to deal Blackjack.
At the end of five weeks those who had learnt to count efficiently, deal chips professionally and shuffle card decks niftily, were ready to be squeezed into Bunny costumes by the seamstress who had come from Chicago.
“Listen, baby, you’re pregnant,” she said when my turn came.
“Don’t be crazy!”
“I’m not crazy, baby; you’re at least three months gone.”
That explained why my breasts had become even bigger. This was what I so much wanted but hadn’t dared believe even though I hadn’t had a period for some months. But then, I had never been regular.
At the club I was told to stay on for as long as I could. Chairs were vacated as I entered rooms, the seamstress made my costume just a little less tight than regulations called for. I received benign smiles from the male staff (a pregnant Bunny, ha, ha!)
The Bunny make up room was a masquerade reflected in the light-studded wall-to-wall mirrors alive with big-bosomed, chorus-legged belles in black fishnet stockings and shiny satin costumes. Buzzing and busy like honey bees, cheerful and sparkling like Christmas trees, brushing tresses, gluing on false lashes, painting scarlet lips. Discussing lives, complaining about the management and the plastic food in the canteen, while contemplating shades of nail-polish. Gossip, giggles, sometimes tears, and attempts at new friendships. I was reminded of the carefree days in Rome when I had been handmaiden to Elizabeth Taylor.
In the beginning the work was fun, I enjoyed gambling and was a skilful croupier. My nimble fingers, like spider’s legs, distributed shiny, multi-coloured plastic chips under neon lights. Silent concentration, sighs of anticipation, prayers, shouts of glee, disappointment, desperation, elation. Stale smell of cigarettes and sweaty expectations, as patterns formed on the green felt cloth spelling win or lose. If I wanted to win I found I often could by applying my will. Two Kings for the punter, a Queen and an Ace for me. Ha! The pale manager in evening gear, controlling my antics, was pleased.
After a month I began to get annoyed by the chauvinistic authoritarianism of the organization, the rules and regulations that were never on our side, the demerits if you had a run in your stocking or your make up wasn’t up to par, and other stuff that I thought was not fair. So I tried to organize a Bunny Union. I suspected it didn’t have a chance in a warren, but I wanted to make my point anyway. To appease me and lure me to their side the company offered me the role of Bunny Mother, which would put me in charge of overseeing the bunnies. But I wasn’t about to sell my soul to the company store.
Instead, knowing the house to be a winner and not just by chance, I was on the side of the sweaty little loser now. “Go home mister,” I’d hear myself whisper.
My messy altruism floated into the bosses’ office. A trouble-maker, they called me, and when my baby began to bulge noticeably and I was beginning to feel tired, they weren’t sorry to see me go.