Legendary Playboy owner Mr Hugh Hefner opened his original club in Mayfair in 1966. Back in its day it attracted flocks of ‘A’ list celebrities to its iconic premises, at a time when it was still fairly unusual to see female flesh on display. It was eventually closed in 1981, after British gaming laws were tightened and the license was revoked. However Mr Hefner was hopeful in bringing the Playboy Club back to London in May 2011 with the sophistication of the original establishment, and I was to become one of the new Bunnies!
Article header in Marie Claire
So, why you ask, would I be interested in becoming a Playboy Bunny??
I have been in love with the bright lights and glamour of London since my late teens, when I would visit for the occasional weekend of debauchery. The idea of The Playboy Club to me, didn’t seem at all degrading or crude. I had imagined it to be a decadent and lavish place, as described in the Sixties, and a great opportunity for me to meet all sorts of interesting, influential people and, of course, be paid handsomely enough to live comfortably in the Big Smoke! I also had no issues regarding wearing the iconic corset and ears, I mean, girls wear much less to the beach or even on a night out! I saw the article regarding Playboys new club in the Sunday Times and applied swiftly afterwards. I got the call a few weeks later on, inviting me to an audition, and the rest is history!
Audition day one…
More than 2,000 women had applied for the Bunny positions at Londons new Playboy Club – a restaurant, cocktail bar and casino spread over two floors in the heart of Mayfair – but only a ‘lucky’ 80 would be picked to work in the iconic casino when it returned that May.
It was midday on a Wednesday afternoon in early 2011 and I had arrived at The Empire Casino in Leicester Square where the auditions were being held. The auditions were being carried out over a number of days. I’d travelled down that morning by train from Nottingham accompanied by a dear friend for some much needed support. I’d opted on wearing a knee length grey, fitted dress… sexy, but in a more subtle way, accessorised with simple, black court shoes and glasses for a more ‘intellectual’ look. My friend accompanied me inside where I was greeted by a harem of attractive young women all eagerly waiting to be escorted inside for the first round of the audition process.
“Welcome to the world of Playboy 2011 where beauty, elegance, intelligence, teamwork and a certain aura you might call the ‘bunny factor’ is what we will be looking for in our applicants today”. So said the thirty something, attractive, Playboy Club director Adam Roberts. All the girls listened on intently with intrigue and excitement all trying to stifle our nerves about what the day may have in store for us.
There had been a lot of excitement and media interest surrounding the upcoming new casino and Marie Claire magazine were in attendance on the day of my audition. They wanted to experience the audition process for themselves in order to write, in my opinion, a rather biased summary of what happened that day in one of their upcoming features. More about that later…
“I’ll be perfectly fine!” I reassured myself, just so long as they don’t make me stand up in front of everyone and introduce myself… My worst nightmare! Anddddddd cue: Round one!!!! “Could everybody stand up, one at a time, and first briefly introduce yourself, then I would like you to tell us three facts about yourself, but one of those facts has to be a lie. Then the rest of us will guess which one was in fact a lie… Go!”ARGHHHHHH, I wanted to walk out and leave at that point. But I didn’t. I reluctantly volunteered myself to go somewhere halfway through the other girls, not wanting to be the last. I couldn’t tell you what I said, or anyone else for that matter, it was all a blur, but I think I did okay. Next up… Round two! Everybody had to get into groups of four and pick a well known song from the list given to us. We had to alter the lyrics somehow then sing it in our groups of four in front of everybody else. I was ‘kindly’ nominated to sing the lead parts by the others in my group due to my apparent singing ability. “Thanks” I thought! Anyway, I got through that, I actually found that round surprisingly a lot less daunting than the initial round. Maybe because the attention was diverted across the four of us and not just me.
Okay, so now the people dotted around the room judging us were to make the first cut. Half the girls were discreetly told they hadn’t been successful and left the auditions during the lunch break. As quoted in Marie Claire: “The fame-hungry WAG types were swiftly expelled from the process at this point”. I however stayed so I guess I’ll take that as a compliment. First round down, two to go!!
Now we underwent a basic arithmetic test to see how sharp our maths skills were. This would later decipher which girls they would then choose to be croupiers (I had no idea what one was at the point!) and the others would be valets (waitresses). We were also tested for colour blindness to make sure we would be able to easily differentiate between the different casino chips. No problem. After this we were invited into another room to try on a corset-type top and shorts in order to have a few snapshots taken. We were given the option of posing in a bikini too, although that was not obligatory. However, I felt I’d come across as more enthusiastic if I did it anyway. So that was round two out of the way! I think a few more left at this point but they did it in a way that you almost didn’t notice people leaving throughout the process, which I think was a nicer touch.
I think that it was at this point somebody informed me that a writer named Jenna, who was there on behalf of Marie Claire had requested to speak to me personally in regards to the experience and my expectations of becoming a Playboy Bunny, which would mean I would have to stay longer, but I gladly accepted, I was flattered she’d chosen me out of everyone.
For the final stage of the audition we had been allocated by each of the judges for a one-on-one interview. Adam the Director, whom I mentioned earlier had personally picked me for this, which made the final part a little more daunting on my part. However the one-on-one was fairly light hearted, I think Adam just wanted to get a feel for my personality and what kind of background I had come from. Most of the questions were based around how I’d deal with difficult situations; such as rude customers. Looking back now in hindsight Adam wanted to know that I wasn’t going to tell the customers to f**k off and comply with the whole ethic that the ‘customer is always right’. Believe me you need this kind of attitude to work in a high-end casino! Adam then formally thanked me for our chat and it was then I went on to speak to Jenna of Marie Claire…
She was very polite and friendly, however she was always going to take a feminists approach on her article. Rightly or wrongly. Back then I was naive in thinking that what I said is what actually would have been written, however, much of it was complete trash. She claimed in the article I said; “Being a bunny girl and wearing the costume means loads of attention. It’s like being a celebrity!” Oh purrrlease I was 24 not 4! Way to make me sound like a complete air head!!
Top: That’s me third from left. Second from right; Polly, and centre; Jenny also made the final 80. Centre: Myself and Jenna getting to grips with some casino chips. Bottom: Jenna trying out the iconic ears.
A snippet from the article: Are We Really Ready For The Return Of The Bunny Girl? (Marie Claire)
“Alexandra White is a petite but curvy 24-year-old, who is a qualified make-up artist with three A levels. Alexandra, like the other girls who are on the whole depressingly intelligent yet desperate to work here, does not know what sort of a career path a job as a Bunny promises. We are given no information about exact wages, promotion, maternity benefits or sick pay. When I ask about salary, the organisers are vague, but they do say Bunnies are allowed to keep their tips. Despite the lack of information , it doesn’t put off girls like Alexandra. Today with many young women citing Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian as role models, it’s no surprise that being a bunny girl is seen as an aspirational job.”
After a long day I then left The Empire Casino in very high spirits around six to return to my friend and have a well deserved dinner! I would find out over the next coming weeks if I had been successful in my audition. If successful I would then be invited to return to The Empire Casino for a cocktail evening for the second round of judging. I received my invite through the post, I was ecstatic!
Audition day two…
Here I was again back at The Empire dressed in a plain black-fitted Karen Millen dress and strappy sandals. Once all the girls had arrived we were briefed on what would be expected of us throughout the evening. Our role was to mingle with all the guests, and hand out drinks and nibbles. The guests were the majority men in managerial roles from within the company or from similar industries, such as night club/bar owners. We were to adhere to a strict one alcoholic drink each policy throughout the evening. The object of the evening, for the judges, was to watch how we interacted with people in a social setting and if we could carry ourselves with style, flair and grace. If I’m being perfectly honest I found this whole process a little awkward as all the girls were clambering over one-another to talk to the individuals dotted around the room. I couldn’t help but feel that it all seemed a little desperate, and staying true to myself I took a more laid back approach and let the other girls do the majority of the talking whilst trying to remain positive and upbeat. I think the evening lasted around 2-3 hours. I’m not sure all the girls had adhered to the one drink policy as a few had gotten a little ‘sloppy’ throughout the night, anyway, we were thanked for our time and told we were free to leave. I left fairly promptly after that after saying a few obligatory goodbyes. I was pretty down heartened by this point as I felt I had failed miserably at making myself stand out amongst the other more assertive girls. I returned to Nottingham the next day not too hopeful that I had been successful this time…
I must have made a strong enough impression on day one of the auditions to secure myself a position in the final 80 line up of brand new Bunny Girls! I got the call a few weeks after the cocktail evening, much to my delight! This would be the start to my journey in London as a Playboy Bunny…
Thanks for reading,