Ex-Playboy bunny is host to thousands of visitors; Resort greeters guarantee a warm welcome.
IN HER youth, Wendy Wright's job saw her dressing in a risque leotard and dancing alongside great entertainers like Morecambe and Wise.
Now, more than 30 years on, the former Playboy bunny has moved to a completely different stage - this time behind the microphone.
The mother-of-one climbs aboard coaches heading into Southport each day of the holiday season, as a 'greeter' welcoming passengers to the resort.
While Mrs Wright, also a professional actress and dancer, dresses in her 'civilian' clothes to do the job, she believes her glamorous past has helped lure visitors back to the town.
In fact, Sefton Council executives believe Mrs Wright and her team of "coach hosts" are a major reason why Southport is bucking a national trend by seeing an increase in coach parties year after year.
Mrs Wright said: "When the coaches arrive, we hop on and say a few words about the town and point out places of interest for the passengers. "So many people say to us how lovely it is to receive a personal welcome - it is actually quite unique and I believe
it has a very positive impact on the number of coach companies returning to Southport time after time.
"My theatre experience comes out when
I am talking to people, because I have that outgoing approach."
Born in West Kirby, Mrs Wright was three when she performed in her first show, a production of Cinderella at Port Sunlight's Gladstone Hall.
She later enrolled at Shelagh Elliott-Clarke's stage school, on Bold Street in Liverpool, where she studied alongside Bill Kenwright and Rita Tushingham.
Her dancing career saw her touring the country with the likes of Tommy Steele, Tommy Cooper and Bruce Forsyth.
It was when she appeared in the 1969 Norman Wisdom film, What's Good For The Goose, filmed in Southport, that she was spotted by Playboy scouts and taken on as a bunny at its Manchester club.
She had also been a bunny girl at Southport's Kingsway Theatre, where she introduced such stars as Tom Jones.
She said: "When I was a Playboy bunny and a dancer, we always had to smile and make sure people enjoyed what they were looking at.
"There are similarities between being a bunny and what I am doing now. It is all about making people happy and making sure they come back again.
"It's all based on the same thing - creating a very friendly atmosphere to be in."
After the Manchester club closed in 1972, Mrs Wright returned to the stage as a dancer. Now, in addition to working as a coach host, she is a background artist and plays small roles in soap operas including Coronation Street. She and her husband, former golf club steward Rod, recently filmed scenes for the Beatles-inspired film, Across The Universe, which is out later this year.
Mrs Wright, who has a son, hospitality consultant Darryn, 27, also teaches dance and produces an annual show for Christian Aid at Lord Street West Church in Southport.
It is all about making people happy
Wendy Wright in her bunny uniform at the Playboy Club' Southport coach host Wendy Wright Picture: EDDIE BARFORD
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Feb 8, 2006|
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