Here’s more from my cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos
I finished up my double-page spread for Playboy on the Jazz Poll by the end of my week’s stay in Chicago. Art Paul, the art director, asked me to go with him to the Chicago Playboy Club (the original Playboy Club) on my last evening there. He said that I ought to see it and we could relax and have some fun after my busy week putting together my illustration as the votes were coming in. He also said that because he was a family man, and had never really gone to the club very much, that it would be good for him to go because Hefner liked the executives of the company to go once in a while, just to check on things and make sure everything was hopping along okay. So, off we went.
Later in life, I visited the New York club which was glitzy, full of big windows and flash whereas this Chicago club was simpler and homier. The famous Playboy bunnies were flitting about everywhere as we entered and we were shown to a table in a large room with a stage. Art said we were going to see a show while we ate. It turned out to be a standup comic.
At the club, one didn’t order from a menu. They had a very nice standard steak dinner. But, before that came, a bunny appeared at our table and announced, “I’m your bunny Wanda.” Wanda brought us some drinks and we chatted away until the house lights started to dim just as our food was being brought to our table. I could see that it looked very delicious and then the room went completely black and remained so until the stage show was over. Meanwhile, I had the odd adventure of eating an entire meal without being able to see it! Art and I felt our way through it.
As the lights came up and our table was cleared, Wanda again appeared and asked if we would like anything.
“Do you want anything, Randy” Art said to me. I said that maybe a pack of cigarettes would be nice. I was smoking Camels in those days. When I would eat by myself at the Water Tower Inn, I would be the only one in the vast dining room because the hotel had just opened and there were practically no residents yet. I would put a cigarette in my mouth and three waiters would fly to my table to light me up.
But, I digress. I asked Wanda to bring me a pack of Camels. She returned presently and set a tray on our table in the traditional “Bunny dip” fashion. On the tray was a pack of Camels and a Playboy lighter.
“That will be three dollars “ she said. Camels cost 25 cents a pack in those days.
Art said, “No, this is on the magazine… company business”.
Wanda : “I’m sorry sir, but you have to pay for cigarettes.”
Art: “It’s company business. I’m a vice-president of the company.”
Me: “It’s okay, Art, I’ll pay for it,” I said, reaching for my wallet.
Art: “No no no, you don’t pay for anything while you’re here.”
Wanda: “I don’t know who you are, sir.”
Art: “This is company business. Everything is charged to the company.”
Me: “Let me…”
Art: No, you don’t pay for anything.
Wanda: “Do you have a C9 key?”
Art: “What’s a C9 key?”
Evidently, it’s a key, usually given to the press and VIPs, which allows you to charge cigarettes and date bunnies.
Art demanded to see the floor manager who quickly came over. Art explained the problem to him and he was having none of it and refused to charge the cigarettes. I, of course, kept interceding with my plaintiff pleas to end it all by paying the three dollars but Art would not hear of it. He reached into his own pocket and paid the man while asking for his name so he could be reported to Hefner.
That was that, and we sat for a while talking and me smoking my expensive cigarettes which I lit with my Playboy lighter (I still have it).
When we were ready to leave, Art said that he was looking for a Bunny to put on the cover of the next issue and how he thought that Wanda was the perfect look that he needed. The next time she came by our table, Art asked her if she had ever posed for the magazine. Okay, now, she must have thought that Art was hitting on her because she thrust her nose in the air and without a word, completely ignored him and wiggled off.
I often think about our bunny, Wanda, and how she never realized how close she came to being on the cover of Playboy magazine .