Former Playboy 'Bunnies' converge in Baltimore for reunion this weekend

Baltimore, don't be surprised if you see bunny ears around town this weekend.

About 100 former Playboy "Bunnies" will converge on Baltimore for a reunion.

The women, who generally meet up every other year, worked as waitresses and hostesses at what was once a national chain of Playboy Clubs, donning silk leotards, bunny ears, tails and three-inch heels to serve customers. Some of the Bunnies also became Playboy magazine centerfolds.

"It was the hardest job I ever had," said Marsha Flynn, a nurse practitioner from St. Louis who organized the reunion. "You can't be overweight. You can't have a zit. Your makeup has to be perfect."

Flynn, 66, said that the attendees range in age from 45 to 80 and include doctors, lawyers, actresses and movie producers. The Bunnies followed a carefully scripted patter with customers in the clubs, she said, and adhered to a rigid code of conduct.

She chafes at the suggestion that the clubs were sexist. The job gave her the courage to conquer subsequent challenges, she said.

"It was very empowering," she said. "I was a very shy girl ... this gave me a front and a cover that I could approach people with. I'm trained, I'm outfitted, all I had to worry about is my personality being pleasing."

The former Bunnies from across the country will meet at Baltimore's Embassy Suites Hotel Sunday. Monday, they will start with brunch at Liam Flynn's Ale House (owned by Marsha Flynn's brother-in-law), tour the city, and take a cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore.

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960, and many other large cities followed suit.  Baltimore's club opened in 1964 -- 50 years ago. 

"Girls! What's it like to be a Bunny?" read a 1964 ad in the Baltimore Sun. "Do Playboy Club Bunnies Really Have Glamorous Jobs, meet Celebrities, make top money?"

Baltimore's Playboy Club closed in 1976, part of the beginning of a wave of closures as the times changed.

A few Playboy Clubs remain open in other countries, including one that recently opened in India.

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