BUNNY TALES: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion, Izabetta St. James, 2009, Running Press, 253pp, photo insert, trade softcover
Polish-born law school graduate Izabetta St. James is unlikely to be welcome back at the Playboy Mansion after writing this scorched-earth tell-all of her two-year experience as an official live-in Girlfriend.
Superman only has superpowers, Green Lantern has merely his ring, but Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has his Girlfriends, his Manion, and his Playboy Magazine. It shares the uniqueness greater than that of the President oi the United States. When Hollywood makes a movie or TV show about a skin magazine puiblisher with his live-in posse of girlfriends, they're talking about a Hugh Hefner spin-off.
Hef pays the girls a $1,000 weekly allowance since they don't have an income to rely on and pays a hefty rent on each room down the hall from his bedroom that they occupy. On the other hand, he gets value.
The Girlfriends, like the Mansion, are a walking, talking Chatty Cathy publicity draw. The parties, the scanty costumes, the skin, they keep the Playboy empire on page one of the world's newspapers. The set-up is even more cost-effective these days, no doubt, with the reality TV show starring his latest Girlfriends.
St. James writes about all aspects of life in the Mansion. She includes a guide to the group of annual parties, Hef's daily work habits, his rigidly scheduled evenings, his love for movies, Hef's bedroom activities, the bickering and jockeying for position among the girls led by Holly who became the lead Girlfriend in the reality TV show's debut seasons, and the ways the Girlfriends would get around their restrictions by saving up money for the big break from the Mansion with a boyfriend they might have on the side, once they've gotten all the plastic surgery, dental work, and other big ticket benefits they can. Ideally, that might include becoming a Playmate of the Month which could be translated into lucrative modeling or actinbg work. According to St. James, some Playmates have benefitted from the image in the world's oldest profession, something Hef doesn't appreciate.
St. James complaints are counterbalanced by her professed appreciation of the opportunities given her. It does make you wonder just how mercenary she was. She makes clear that she moved into the Mansion when invited in anticipation of having fun, not for love of Hef, although there seems to be an attraction for the whole package...fame, money, power. She seems to suggest that her motives were purer than many of the other girls and repeatedly notes that she is a law school graduate. (In her defense, she opens with a story of a movie star who rejected her when he found out she was an ex-Girlfriend, thus a bimbo.)
Her complaints about not getting the exact model of car she wants and that sort of thing is a bit like an ancient Reader's Digest gag I remember reading in my youth in which a priest discussing taking conbfession from nuns, likened it to being stoned with popcorn.
Some reviews on Amazon note that the book is a clear example of young girls taking advantage of an older, well-heeled man. But again memory strikes and I recall someone mentioning to Hef years ago, "you know these girls wouldn't be hanging out with you if you didn't have the money and the magazine and the reputation" and Hef's reply wasa opn the order of "What's your point?"
Interesting book, no redeeming social qualities, good fun.