Brutal reality of Playboy Bunny suits – kidney infections to ‘blood whirlpools’
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Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire was the epitome of glitz and glamour for over half a century.
But beneath the images of Hef surrounded by scantily-clad bunnies, there allegedly lurked a murky undertone.
Previous girlfriends of the tycoon exposed the grim orgies and drug culture that ran throughout the infamous Playboy Mansion.
READ MORE: 'I grew up in Playboy Mansion – orgies, drugs and Hef's tongue kissing messed me up'
And one of his most famous partners claimed she was too scared to leave the "cult" for fear of revenge porn.
Now, more bunnies have revealed the brutal realities of wearing the famous corset outfits day in day out.
To create the illusion of an hourglass body shape, ex-Bunny Suzanne Charneski, who worked in the Great Gorge Playboy club, said the corset had 18 metal stays.
Speaking on the Secrets of Playboy documentary, she said: "You had a complete check before you went into service mode, before you went on the floor.
"You were checked for your costume, the way it looked, the way it fit, and your weight."
The costume required two people to put it on – with one holding it at the front and another zipping the back.
"If you gained 5lbs, with those metal stays, you couldn't breathe," Suzanne noted.
PJ Masten, who worked at the Playboy Club in Century City, California, from 1972 to 1984, once saw the uniform as a sex symbol. But this soon changed.
She revealed that all Bunnies required to do a monthly weigh-in, adding: "There was a chart in the room next to scale and it was humiliating.
"Everybody could see it and if you were 5lbs over, you had a warning.
"If you didn't get it down for next month, you were suspended until you got your weight down."
Bunnies also had to wear high heels whenever they were on the floor and they could be standing or walking around for hours.
"We used to go into the ladies' room and take our shoes off, which were encrusted with blood and stick them in the toilet bowl and keep flushing it," Masten explained.
"It was like a whirlpool, to get the swelling down and hope that your shoes could fit back in."
Masten, who got into management as a Bunny Mother in 1975, said a lot of girls had kidney infections because they were cinched in.
She also shared the "rule book" she had to stick to when hiring new Bunnies.
"We had to evaluate them on their appearance and you can't have these – crepe-y skin, sagging breasts, bags under their eyes, crooked teeth, some really nasty descriptions," she detailed.
"It was heartbreaking to me and I just I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it.
"I rebelled against. I didn't check off if they had crepe-y sin, or if they had saggy breasts, you couldn't tell anyhow, I don't want to fire somebody for image — that stays with you for the rest of your life, that's a terrible thing."
The Bunny "was not a real person, she was an image," said Susanne Singer, who worked at the Playboy Club in Century City for 12 years.
"It was about 95% hard work and 5% glamour.
"Sitting here in 2021, I can see where many people would have thought that this was not how to treat women by saying, 'Well, if your image changes, you're outta here' — and I understand that.
"But at the time, the way we were raised and the times that we were raised in, we didn't think anything about it because we didn't know any different. And that's kind of sad."
Over the years, there were minor changes to the costume to adjust the fit but also to maintain the integrity of the original design.
In 2005, Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli reinterpreted the timeless costume and added animal print and patterns to the attire.
But its main purpose – to present as an image of young, buxom woman primed for service – remained the same.
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