Kathryn Leigh Scott Interview
(Former Playboy Bunny)
In the early 1960's,
when Kathryn Leigh Scott was a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts,
she got a job at the Playboy Club in New York.
She worked at the club as a Playboy Bunny for three years.
Kathryn has chronicled her years with Mr. Hefner's organization as well as interviews
with 250 former bunnies in the book, "The Bunny Years, The Surprising Inside
Story of The Playboy Clubs: The Women Who Worked As Bunnies and Where They Are
Now" (Pomegranate Press, P.O. Box 17217, Beverly Hills, CA 90209. The cost is
The book will be the subject of an A and E television special in May 1999, titled, "The
Kathryn Leigh Scott spoke with us about her book, and life as a Playboy Bunny.
Q -1 believe that "The Bunny Years" is the first book to
ever be written on a Playboy Bunny. Am I right?
A - Yes. There actually was a book many, many years ago written by a Norwegian
Bunny, but it was more of a mass market book. It was just kind of a personal
memoir. Nobody has actually ever written a book about the Playboy bunnies from
the point of view of the women who worked as bunnies. Gloria Steinem wrote
her magazine article but that was really from her point of view and written
as sort of an expose. So, this is the first time the women themselves have
spoken up and you hear their voices and their recollection.
Q - When the book was completed did you take it around to
the major publishing companies?
A -1 did indeed do that. There were two New York houses that were immediately
interested. Two of the biggest ones. I had a couple of meetings with them,
and as it happened the editor of one place left and then about three weeks
later the editor of the other place left. I thought this is the lesson I need
to learn right now, that you lose your editor and you're stuck with somebody
who doesn't have the same enthusiasm. I thought I can't let that happen with
this project because it really does require a vision. And, it was at that point
that I just decided to do it myself. I just didn't want to leave it in the
hands of someone else.
Q - How did you manage to track down so many of the women
who worked as Bunnies?
A - Well, I'll tell you it was relatively easy, in that I've always kept in
touch with 4 women. In fact, I know them so well and they're such close friends
that I forget that where I first met them was at the Playboy Club. I started
with them and then I literally pulled out an old address back from 30 years
ago in New York, and I started calling some of those numbers, and found the
women. In New York, you never leave a rent called apartment. Each woman seemed
to keep in touch with 2 or 3 others So, it was an ever-expanding network. In
the end, I talked to just under 300 women. Some of them were com¬plete
strangers to me, but I could trace the connection.
Q - Was it difficult to get them to talk?
A - No. There was nobody who refused to talk to me. In fact, some of those
women are very much today's celebrities, in very powerful positions. Some
of them are very wealthy. Very public people. A lot of it had to do with
the fact that I would call up and introduce myself as a former Bunny. I think
it's a shared experience. Once they know that you've done it, they know that
you have a shared history. What happens then is, it leads to a sort of shorthand.
Not a lot of explanation was required. (Laughs). So I knew the questions
to ask. I knew what they were saying when they gave me a response.
Q - I did an interview with actress and former Playboy Bunny
Barbara Bosson (Hill Street Blues) a number of years ago and when I asked
her about her days as a Playboy Bunny, she really didn't think it was such
a big deal. Did the women you interviewed feel the same?
A - Almost all of them. I know exactly what Barbara was saying when she said
that. I know what Lauren Hutton means when she says, "Once a Bunny, Kathryn
Leigh Scott The Bunny Years always a Bunny." And, she's said that on numerous
occasions. We all say it because for many of us we were Bunnies at the same
time we were students. So, it's like talking about your student days. It did
have an impact on our lives. It was a social and cultural phenomena, and therefore
it takes on a whole lot more weight than it did when we were actually doing
it. The things that happen in your youth are very often the things that you
are forever afterward known for.
Q - Most people would have a hard time believing you can make
the jump from that point to the next point, because so many do not make that
A - Exactly. To see a woman who is now the head of a New York Stock Exchange
Company and then to learn she was a Bunny for seven years; or to see another
woman who is literally one of the wealthiest women in the world who bought
her first property in Chicago with her Bunny earnings, is always interesting.
Q - Quite honestly, Kathryn, in this picture of you in the
Bunny costume, you don't look too happy. Am I misinterpreting that?
A - Yes. I'm smiling in that, but I have to say, to me I look so shy. I think
that was taken the first week I was a Bunny. They came in on a Sunday, and
we were all sleepy from working the night before. These pictures were meant
for the Playboy files. They weren't meant to be published. They're really for
their files. They're like mug shots, full length.
Q - You write, "I learned about what was right and wrong and
how I wanted to be treated and that held me in good stead when I went out
as an actress."
A - Right.
Q - Why did you not learn that in acting school? How is it
that working as a Playboy Bunny taught you that?
A - What you learn in acting school is how to be an actress. You learn how
to do your job. But as you know, whether you're a journalist or an actress
or almost any other profession, what they teach you is the professional part
of it. Going into the workplace is something totally different. So, you go
into the workplace and you have a very good looking, older person of authority,
like a director, and he comes on to you and you know perfect costume as sort
of a come-on and sort of a tease that indeed men were going to come on to me.
It was up to me to learn how to handle that. Playboy realized that was part
of the job and they really did teach us in Bunny training how to handle that.
It stood me in good stead the rest of my life. 1 remember when a director really
did hit on me, and he was a married man. I said, "But, you're married" and
he said, "Yes, I have an arrangement with my wile," and I said, "But, you don't
have an arrangement with me." Learning how to stand up to somebody who is an
authority figure and can give you a job, can make or break your career, and
you weigh those things on the one side, knowing on the other that it's wrong.
Q - Sadly enough that practice probably continues to this
A - Well, of course it does. I've said in a number of interviews, boys and
girls have to learn how to conduct themselves in the workplace. It's not something
ever taught in high school, college or in the study of any particular career.
Almost all of the Playboy Bunnies mentioned that what they learned working
as Bunnies was a lesson for life.
Q - Men today are being told that sexual harassment in the
workplace will not be tolerated, and you are not to look upon a woman as
a sex object. At this point in history, shouldn't men and women stop putting
themselves in a position where they can be viewed as a sex object?
A - It's an entirely individual matter. Everybody has to learn this. Everybody
has to walk this fine line. Most people, when they find a mate and get married,
it is somebody they met through work, because that is where we spend most of
our time. So therefore the idea of saying that you can't look upon someone
as an object of desire, that is exactly the way you are feeling about them.
(Laughs). They fit all the requirements of someone you'd like to spend your
life with. How do you go about asking someone for a date and not getting hauled
up on sexual harassment? Well, this is something you have to learn, and it's
not something we can legislate. I think there's too much legislation already.
I think it's entirely a human dilemma, and it's one that is so individual,
and so personal. It's something that everybody has to learn.
Q - Are you surprised that places like Hooter's prosper?
A - No. Just as I know the more we condemn cigarettes and the more impossible
we make it to buy a pack, the more young people are going to want them. It
has entirely to do with rebellion. Everything that is old is new again. Hooter's
1 think is an absolute response to the fact that there is all this legislation.
Q - Bunnies were in the vanguard of women's liberation; we
were, many of us, at 19 making more money than our fathers." It was all about
A - No, not at all. Except that one of the precepts of the Feminist Movement
is that financial independence is power. It's one of the things we experienced
as Bunnies, because we were earning such a lot of money, we could pursue other
careers. Money wasn’t a hindrance. That's all that that means. We wanted
an equal place in the workplace. That really was the fundamental idea of the
women's movement back then. It altered as it went on. The other thing is I
don't think people realize, they've forgotten perhaps that in the early 60's
it was almost impossible for a woman to get a credit card on her own, or a
mortgage on her own. So, that taste of financial freedom and that taste of
being a valued employee, making more money than your immediate male supervisors
who were the room directors, really went a long way in giving those eighteen
and nineteen year olds a sense of themselves.
Q - Were you ever asked to pose for the Centerfold in Playboy?
A - No. As you can tell from that picture, I was a rather immature looking
young woman. I certainly have never been model material, while that is what
a Playmate is. She's a model. I was simply never in the fast track for that.
They never asked Lauren Hutton. They never asked Susan Sullivan. They never
asked Barbara Bosson. (Laughs.). There was a particular kind of look and
we didn't have it. 1 also hasten to add that had I been asked I probably
would not have done it, because I was serious about my acting career, and
in those days posing as a Playmate was not a stepping stone.
Q - And today it is?
A - No. Can you think of one single Playmate who has become a well-known, highly
Q - In the history of Playboy Magazine there has only been
A - Marilyn Monroe. And Marilyn Monroe was already a well-established actress
by the time she became the cover girl of 1954. There has never been one, single
actress of note who was a Playmate.
Q - How do you think history will look at Hugh Hefner 100
years from now? Will people look at a photo of a Playboy Bunny and think
it's cute, or will they shake their head and say how sad it was that women
had to put themselves in such a humiliating position to earn money?
A -1 think that the latter concept is a very fleeting one, believe it or not.
I think from the distance of 100 years people will look back and see them as
a Gibson girl or a Ziegfield girl or the Busby Berkeley dancers. If you look
at them as a whole, you would look back on them in that respect. But, as far
as Hugh Hefner is concerned, I think that history is going to treat him with
a fair amount of respect. What I think will emerge is, he was there to guide
an entire generation of men who came out of World War II and were in many cases
the first in their families to go to college. His Playboy philosophy is only
one aspect of it. He introduced a lifestyle, for the urban male. With all of
those kids coming off the farm and entering into an urban middle class environment
he gave them a lifestyle. He also, in terms of sexuality, he opened a lot of
doors. I'm not saying that he won't always be controversial, but I think he'll
be a figure treated with a certain amount of respect.
Q - And you don't think people will say how terrible it was
that he exploited these women?
A-Oh, I don't think so. I think that's something we're going through right
now. If you're talking about 100 years from now, you're talking about perspective.
Playboy Magazine was the first of something. There were so many firsts connected
with it. The Playboy Bunny is a cultural icon. I guess what I'm saying to you,
is like it or not, this is the situation. What Hugh Hefner has done in the
latter half of this century cannot be dismissed.
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