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Monday June 27, 2011

Playboy Bunnies a tourist attraction

PLAYBOY Clubs in Las Vegas, Macau, Cancun and London are now a major tourist attraction for a new generation who have never flipped through Playboy magazine, let alone enter a Playboy Club.

At the peak of Playboy-mania in the 70s, there were 30 Playboy Clubs across 25 American states and international capitals with over a million members. The first and original Playboy Club opened in 1960 in Chicago and entered history the following year as the world’s most successful club with an average of 40,000 guests per month!

Newsweek dubbed Playboy Club the “Disneyland for Adults” and being seen inside a Playboy Club or reading Playboy magazine was a status symbol. There was even a Playboy Club in nearby Manila at Silahis hotel patronised by Malaysians.

In 1965, Playboy Club London opened and flaunted a casino which became the world’s most profitable in 1981. Unfortunately, its licence was not renewed the following year, which signed its death warrant.

The spectacular Sands Macau with Playboy logo advertising the club.

By the late 80s, Playboy started to lose its lustre and prestige. The fact that owner and founder Hugh Hefner was in his sixties did not improve Playboy’s image. The last Playboy Club in the United States was in Lansing, Michigan; it closed in 1988. Playboy Club Manila struggled on till 1991.

But fortune is cyclical and Playboy Club was resurrected in 2006 at Palms Casino in Las Vegas. It took another four years before Playboy Macau opened in November 2010, followed by Playboy Club Cancun, Mexico.

On June 4, Playboy Club London reopened after 30 years. Annual membership is RM6,000 plus a membership fee of RM5,000. A life-long membership is a staggering RM75,000. The Sazerac cocktail using original Sazerac cognacs is a shocking RM10,000!

Mercifully you do not need to be a member to enter the 12,000 sq ft, 400-seater Playboy Club Macau at Sands hotel. No cover charge, no minimum drinks, so walk right in! I check the drinks menu and am delighted and relieved to announce a beer at Playboy Club Macau costs RM25!

Happy Hour is daily from 6-10pm with “Buy 1 drink, get 1 free”. On Tuesday you can continue drowning yourself in liquor as you also get one free for every drink you buy from 10pm till 3am. Ladies Night is Thursday in which ladies get free drinks from 10pm till 3am!

Playboy bunnies

Jamela (left) and Katya serving honeyed drinks at Playboy Club Macau.

The Playboy Bunnies at Playboy Club Macau live up to every red-blooded man’s expectations. Every Bunny has an hour-glass figure and long legs that seem to stretch forever, especially when you admire them while sprawled on the sofa. Clad in trademark bowtie, cuffs, one-piece corset and fishnet stockings, the Bunnies are deadly sexy.

More so when they are of mixed parentage like Jamela, whose father is an Arab, while her mother is a Filipina. This is the 25-year-old stunner’s first real job. She has a double degree in Business Administration and Mass Communications. Jamela was working as a model in South Korea when she was offered the job.

“I am now six months into my dream job and loving every minute of it,” she enthuses. “I was born in Manila into a conservative family and had no idea Playboy Club even existed. My father was shocked at first. My parents came to Playboy Club Macau to see me at work. They are now so proud of me. My sister is losing weight so she can apply to be a Bunny, too!”

Fellow Bunny Katya, 26, was born in Vladivostok, Russia. “I have been in Macau for four-and-a-half years. I was working at The Venetian for three years, performing acrobatic acts at Streetmosphere,” she says. “I have always dreamed of appearing in Playboy magazine or being a Bunny, so my fantasy is now reality.”

Bunny Supervisor Sarah O’Leary, 30, is English and was a dancer at Sands Casino. “After my contract ended, I applied to be a Bunny Supervisor. After receiving intensive training, I now coach the new Bunnies. We have a high standard of service that is legendary in the hospitality industry. I train the girls on deportment, speech, self-confidence, social etiquette and various skills, including how to walk, serve drinks in the Playboy manner and react and behave under various circumstances. We have 16 Bunnies. Out of that, only two are locals; there are not many applicants from Macau citizens.”

You cannot touch the Bunnies. So asking the Bunnies to sit on your lap or next to you is out of the question.

“We are not GROs, so you cannot pay us by the hour to sit with you. Photography is allowed and encouraged. We love posing with our customers,” beams Jamela.

But what if guests get a little out of hand?

“We will call Security,” explains Jamela, pointing to several burly guards. “They are well-trained and will handle everything properly.”

O’Leary remarks: “Guests cannot even touch the bunny ears.”

I think touching the bunny ears should be permitted since technically the satin ears are not part of the human anatomy. This rule is enforced as there were cases of drunkards trying to remove the ears to wear them on their heads!

Hop on, baby: A private alcove at the Playboy Club Macau.

I persist: “As a paying guest, can I talk to Jamela or Katya all night long?”

O’Leary sighs: “We have a limit of 15 minutes. There are 10 Bunnies per night, so every guest gets a chance to talk to the girls. The Bunnies need to circulate and attend to other tables, and surely you want to meet the other Bunnies and not monopolise just one?”

I murmur: “True, but I have a delicate neck. If a Bunny cannot sit on my lap or next to me, it is very painful to have to look up at her all the time. I will suffer from neck cramp!”

Grins O’Leary: “A Bunny is allowed to perch on the armrest of the sofa while chatting with you. Or she can sit at the edge of the stool or chair.”

Katya adds: “We do suffer from a misconception but we strive for a wholesome image. Yes, we get tipsy or very drunk customers but the security staff look after us all the time! If guests persist in being naughty or keep trying to fondle us, the guards will evict them from the Club. Usually they will return and apologise!”

Indecent proposals

Ahem, what about indecent suggestions?

Laughs Jamela: “I get 10 to 100 offers every night! Guests ask if they could take me out or back to their hotel. Usually they enquire very discreetly but sometimes they go straight to the point.

“I tell them politely I am not going anywhere, so don’t even think about it!”

Katya interjects: “Some men bring their wives or girlfriend; these women don’t feel threatened as their men cannot even touch us. About 30% of our guests are women.”

So what are the requirements to be a Bunny?

“You must be slim, pretty, attractive and speak well. Once you are fitted into your costume which is made to measure just for your body, you are not allowed to change so your weight cannot fluctuate,” says O’Leary. “There are no hard and fast rules. A Bunny is not expected to have a specific size or shape as men have different tastes.”

Naturally you must be cut out for the job.

Concurs Jamela: “I enjoy working as a Bunny so it doesn’t feel like work. You are selected based on your personality. I am happy, friendly and personable all the time and I think these apply to all Bunnies. You must be able to handle pressure and can’t be grumpy! You must be a fun person, easy to work with and be able to make people laugh.”

The Bunnies wear black high heels with no ornamentation. “The shoes are our own and everything else is our uniform. Our costumes come in three colours – red, black and gold, and have to be returned each night. We are not allowed to bring the costume home,” says Katya. “Most of us have long hair that reaches our chest. We did have one girl with short hair, but even so her hair touched her shoulders. It is not sexy to have short cropped hair like a boy.”

Says Jamela: “We cannot wear earrings, hair clips or fancy jewellery. We can wear a small watch but it must be hidden from view under one of our cuffs.”

I ask Jamela what she likes best about her job. There are no other waitresses, so they are the ones serving drinks.

“This is my dream job. Playboy is a global brand and the environment is very exciting as I meet like-minded, fun people like you!” she gushes, proving she is superbly trained in PR as I melt under such flattery. “I like the publicity and we get recognised as ambassadors of Playboy. Oh, another perk – we get to meet celebrities.”

Katya beams: “We are the face of Playboy and I feel it is an honour to be a Playboy Bunny.”

What does she dislike about her job then?

Smiles Katya demurely: “There is nothing I don’t like about my job!”

What do they do in the daytime?

“We sleep!” replies Jamela. “By the time I get home, it is around 4am and I need eight hours of sleep.”

I wanted to ask who she sleeps with but decided not to as the beefy security guards are still hanging around.

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