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Playboy Bunnies: Then and Now

Women who worked at Hugh Hefner’s clubs reminisce about that unique era

  • Left: Courtesy Mieko Nakamura; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Hoppin’ Reunion

    Mieko Nakamura, a retired martial arts equipment supplier and former Playboy bunny in Denver in the late 1960s, recently joined about 120 other former bunnies in Baltimore to share memories of working in the clubs. “We were unique for that time, and we all came to Playboy at something of a turning point in our lives,” says reunion organizer Marsha Callender. “We all took different directions but feel the experience helped shape what we are today.” See “then” and “now” photos of eight more bunnies.

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  • Left: Courtesy Pam Jacobs; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Pam Jacobs

    From 1981 to 1983, Jacobs worked in the Atlantic City, N.J., Playboy Club and recalls that “one of the princes of Saudi Arabia proposed to me.” Now she works as a travel agent and lives in Redondo Beach, Calif. 

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  • Left: Courtesy Cheryl Hill-Gallucci; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Cheryl Hill-Gallucci

    Hill-Gallucci was a bunny in the Columbus, Ohio, club from 1982 to 1986. “There were some 3,300 girls that went to the ‘bunny hunt,’ ” she recalls about the recruitment process. “Thirty-four were chosen.” Today she is an interior decorator in Dublin, Ohio.

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  • Left: Courtesy Barbara Drumgoole; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Barbara Drumgoole

    She worked in the Baltimore club from 1971 to 1973. “I wanted to be [an airline] stewardess, but you had to be 21,” she says. Yet at 18, she could work for Playboy. Drumgoole is now a museum tour guide and lives in Maryland. 

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  • Left: Courtesy Marsha Callender; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Marsha Callender

    From 1973 to 1975, she worked in the St. Louis club. “I didn’t go into Playboy thinking they would hire me,” she says. “I just needed to get the rejection to tell the guy who sent me that he was wrong.” Clearly, he was not. Adds Callender: “Working for Playboy helped me develop the confidence, chutzpah and drive I needed to excel as an adult.”

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  • Left: Courtesy Barbi Holstein; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Barbi Holstein

    After working in the Jamaica club from 1968 to 1974 and the New York City club from 1979 to 1983, Holstein was told to turn in her ears at the age of 33 because she had “lost the youthful look for which I was hired.” Holstein says Hugh Hefner offered her the opportunity to get an education and paid all of her tuition. Now retired, she lives in Orlando, Fla.

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  • Left: Courtesy Sandra Speier; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Sandy Speier

    A bunny at the Boston club from 1968 to 1969, Speier says: “I didn’t have a problem with being an object of admiration and desire.” She spent 25 years teaching in Washington, D.C., public schools before retiring. Today she lives in Palo Alto, Calif., and works as a substitute teacher.

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  • Left: Courtesy Debbie Cleffi; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Debbie Cleffi

    She worked in the Great Gorge, N.J., club between 1979 and 1982, and says she was the first female bartender in a Playboy club. Cleffi now owns a 24-hour day care center.

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  • Left: Courtesy Rita Plank; Right: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

    Rita Plank

    Plank worked in the San Francisco club from 1969 to 1973. Retired from a career with a hotel corporation, Plank now works at a humane society and fosters rescue dogs.

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