Former Detroit Playboy Club Bunny looks back

- He turned our fascination with sex into a media empire - Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died last night at the age of 91.

A former Detroit Playboy Bunny is sharing her experiences.

"We felt like were celebrities a little bit," said Ingrid Rigney.

And why not, "Bunny Ingrid" as she was known, says they were treated that way.

It was 1967 and Ingrid, who married her husband and moved here from Germany, had been working as a dental assistant. In hopes of making more money to put her husband through college - she applied to be a bunny - something she didn't tell him at the time.

"I came back and I said I got  hired at the Playboy Club and here is the "Bunny Manual" and he took it and threw it on the floor," she said. "And he usually was a very calm person."

Ingrid now 79, also didn't tell the Detroit Playboy Club, located on Jefferson at the time, that she was 27 years old. Bunnies had to be ages 18 to 24.

One day she was forced to reveal how old she really was.

"Finally I just showed them my green card and two weeks later I was called into the bunny mother's office and I was told that I was terminated," she said. "Finally she said you are too old. 'You lost your bunny image.'"

Ingrid had just turned 30 and shared a picture of her taken only a few months before.

Although women said Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine and clubs helped liberate women, playing a major role in the sexual revolution,  Ingrid believes Hefner's strict rules didn't do much to empower women past a certain age.

"It kind of made me think like I was over the hill," she said.

But during her two years donning bunny ears and her blue corset costume, Ingrid remembers working hard for her money. Waitresses only made 80 cents an hour and tips were everything.

"I remember earning lots of money and working very hard," Ingrid said. "You practically worked just for the tips."

She also remembers the rules which meant bunnies must be well-respected by male customers or else.

Ingrid, who was sad to hear the Playboy founder passed, says she never met Hefner - only his brother who came to the club to make sure the Playboy image was being upheld.

An image that would transcend decades.

"I always heard he was quite a nice person," she said - before laughing - "But of course I was mad at him for firing me."
 

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