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IWAS BUNNY GIRL, REVEALS TOP DOC; Saucy past funded way through college.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY JENNIE BIBBINGS

TODAY we can unveil the saucy past of one of Wales' top academics.

Dr Pauline Reeves, who is head of the School of Radiography at the University of Wales, Bangor, worked as one of Hugh Hefner's famous Bunny Girls in the Manchester casino to finance her education.

The former Playboy Bunny turned university boffin lifts the lid on life on the infamous Playboy Clubs of the 1960s and 1970s.

Now Chester-born Pauline, 46, is one of Wales' most distinguished academics - and she's told all about her years at the heart of the glitzy gambling scene.

"I worked in the Playboy Club in Manchester for about three years overall, " says Pauline. I basically used it to finance my radiography training.

"There was an advert in the paper recruiting for staff, and one of the things you had to do when you first went for a job was an intelligence test.

"Those who were the brightest in the intelligence test were trained as croupiers, and the other ones became the cocktail bunnies and waited on tables."

In their heyday, Playboy casinos were a focus for all the glamour and wealth of the swinging sixties.

They were the domain of rich, successful men who could spend thousands of pounds a night on the card tables, being served cocktails by an endless stream of beautiful Bunny Girls.

The clubs helped to launch the careers of entertainers such as Bette Midler, Steve Martin and Dizzy Gillespie, who would perform live.

And being a Playboy Bunny proved a smart early career move for dozens of famous women, including Lauren Hutton, Sherilyn Fenn, and Debbie Harry.

The clubs remained open until 1981 when their gambling licences were revoked.

And Pauline says the lifestyle was every bit as sparkling as its image.

"It was all very glamorous, and also extremely well paid, " she recalls.

"It was hard work but yes, very glamorous. Especially when you consider that I was only 18 when I started there - I came from Chester and I moved up to Manchester specifically to work in the club, which was quite a difference.

"You did see some famous faces from time to time. At that time George Best was a regular in the club, as you can imagine.

"I'd better not say anything bad about him - suffice to say he was a regular!

"It was amazing to see the amounts of money that people would go through at the tables - literally thousands of pounds.

"The biggest gamblers in there were the Chinese because the club in Manchester was near to Chinatown. You used to get a lot of Chinese gamblers.

"You would see people cashing in pounds 10,000 at the desk that they had just won on the tables.

"Equally, you would see people lose as much money.

"I've never felt inclined to gamble myself.

"I was never a big card player before I went there but it certainly made you think twice.

"We weren't allowed to accept tips because that could encourage corruption.

"We weren't allowed to date the punters either, because you could work together to rig the game.

"We had what's known as a 'Bunny Mother'.

"She was a lady who was in the changing rooms with us, and each of us had to be inspected by her every time we went on the floor.

"If she didn't like your nail polish or if you had a run in your tights, you had to get changed. You always had to be well turned out."

Pauline, who today is a keen power-lifter, stayed at the club for a number of months after graduating.

"I finished my radiography training and initially there was unemployment for radiographers so I didn't get a job immediately. But once a job came up in the hospital service I gave up the casino.

"I miss the casino days to some extent. There were a couple of documentaries about Playboy on television last year and it was quite amazing to look back on it.

"But it was such hard work - double shifts, long hours. I don't miss that!"

ROLLING BACK THE EARS PLAYBOY Bunnies first appeared in public in Chicago on February 29, 1960, when the first Playboy Club was opened.

They served cocktails and ran the gambling tables, as opposed to the Playboy Playmates who appeared in Hugh Hefner's magazine.

Their cheeky costume, consisting of trademark ears, cuffs, collar and tail, became legendary overnight.

In Britain, clubs opened in London's Park Lane, Manchester and Portsmouth.

The company kept tight control of the Playboy Bunny costume design, not allowing any to be sold until 1999, when an original green satin costume was auctioned off in aid of the New York based AIDS research organisation, Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA), for $10,000.

CAPTION(S):

PLAYBOY: Best was a regular club visitor in the Seventies NOW: Pauline is a top radiography tutor at Bangor University X-RAY-TED: Pauline in her Bunny Girl days
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 14, 2002
Words:828
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