James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
November 20, 2012
A local woman recalls her time as one of the first Playboy bunnies with the release of a new book documenting her time at the Cincinnati Playboy Club.
“I’m not sure if anyone in the county realizes an ex-Playboy bunny lives in Ashe,” said Betty Miller, a resident of the Shatley Springs community for the last 25 years.
Miller began her stint as a Playboy bunny in 1964 at the Cincinnati Playboy Club, which, at the time, was a cocktail bar. After meeting author Joy Elaine McMillan from Kosciusko, Miss., the two began documenting Millers life in a book called “Storms Never Last: Memoirs of a Playboy Bunny,” which was published nearly one year ago.
“Betty Miller found the world of Playboy to be a world full of glamor, glitz and excitement when she was chosen to be one of the very first Playboy bunnies when the Playboy Club opened in Cincinnati in 1964,” read Storms Never Last.
While Miller never met Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, his brother Keith is the person who hired her to work for the Playboy Club. “I was hired because I told Keith I wanted a unique job, and that kind of attitude was more important than how girls looked,” said Miller.
Miller said she needed to make some money quickly because, at the time, her husband was going to school for welding and was only making $28 per week.
Life as a Playboy bunny “wasn’t as easy as people might think,” said Miller. The girls who worked at the club had $25 removed from their wages every night six nights per week. The girls were on-call at all times, and couldn’t eat anything before their shifts started.
The girls also had to wear very uncomfortable clothing. “Trying to live and breath in their uniforms was a struggle in itself,” said Miller. She said it took two people to pin the girls into their costumes.
According to Miller, she was responsible for helping form Playboy’s first labor union, an action Miller would call “the biggest mistake” she made while working at the Playboy Club.
Miller was called in early one morning to attend a meeting about creating a union for the Playboy Club. Miller said the bunnies and bartenders were all instructed by management to avoid asking questions and were told not to sign anything.
It was a hot summer day in July, and Miller’s husband George was waiting to pick her up after the union meeting. As time passed, Miller noticed her husband had been waiting for her for over 30 minutes, and she didn’t want to leave him burning up in their car.
“It is getting quite late and my husband just got off work and is waiting for me downstairs. I know he is burning up waiting for me in the car, so I really must go. I can’t keep him waiting any longer. I would like to sign up to join the union,” Miller said in the book.
Miller said the union representatives “immediately ran over to me, paper in hand, for me to sign up for the union.”
After Miller signed, she left the meeting, only to find out she was the only person to join the union. However, the union only needed one signature to be established.
“I was really surprised that no one else had signed up to join the union… I went from being one of the favorite bunnies at the Cincinnati Playboy Club to the most hated one there,” said Miller.
In “Storms Never Last,” Miller explains how she was harassed by management after joining the union, leading to several demerits. Miller knew she was close to being fired, so she left the Playboy Club after one and a half years of service, only to return for her final paycheck.
Miller also revealed several other facts about the Cincinnati Playboy Club. She said the bunny uniforms the girls wore served more of a purpose than mere aesthetic appeal.
In the early days of the Playboy Club, the girls often spilled the drinks they were serving because they would get hit in their backs by a heavy, swinging door on their way out of the kitchen.
The cotton tails on their uniforms served as padding, which absorbed the shock from the doors, keeping the bunnies from spilling their customers’ drinks.
“Storms never last is full of interesting stories about my life and the first Playboy Club, and I think almost everyone will be entertained by it,” said Miller.
Although the book is authored by Joy McMillan, Miller says she wrote most of the excerpts herself and sent them to McMillan. Miller says she plans to challenge McMillan in court for plagiarism.
“Storms Never Last” will be released for sale next week at People’s Drug Store and Shatley Springs in paper-back and hard-back copies.