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I had to gain weight to get hired

Former Playboy bunny Jaki Nett is setting the record straight.

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Nett was one of the first women of color to work at the storied Playboy Club during the 1960s. But for all the turmoil in the world around her, she said working for the late Hugh Hefner was a safe place during the 12 years she donned the white bunny tail.

“I grew up under Playboy,” Nett said in an interview with Fox News. “Hugh Hefner didn’t condone segregation so I didn’t feel isolated as a Black Bunny. I felt accepted.”

“I was happy to be working in this environment. It was quite exciting,” added Nett, who now works as a yoga instructor in Napa, Calif.

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The aspiring actress left her Southern home for California in 1962 — “I was an innocent girl with Mississippi mud between my toes,” she said. She interviewed to become a bunny at the LA Playboy Club in 1967 and only left the organization in 1979 after she got married. During her interview, she was surprised to find that the the “Mother Bunny” and Hefner actually preferred she get healthier.

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“I remembered they looked at me and went, ‘You’re too thin.’ So I figured, I’ll gain weight. I gained 10 pounds in two months. I was still too thin but eventually, I got hired. I was persistent,” Nett said. “A Playboy Bunny is hired because of their looks… And you had to maintain a certain weight, whatever it was that made you look good. They had very voluptuous ladies and some like me, who were very thin.”

At the time of her audition, Nett weighed under 100 pounds and “looked very much like the girl next door, but one who had long legs.”

Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner in 1986 at the Playboy Mansion with many, many Playgirls.
Getty Images

Nett also squashed the misconception that bunnies weren’t respected in the workplace. She said that the girls were “very much protected” and the environment was “a lot more conservative than what it looked.”

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“No one was allowed to touch us and believe me, everyone wanted to touch the bunny tail. I used to see the room director physically take people out. Even if the room director wasn’t around, you would go to an older Bunny and they would protect you,” she continued.

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Nett revealed, “The Playboy Club was meant to be fun and exciting, but it was also an illusion. You played by the rules. We didn’t lean over tables. Also, we were a lot more clothed than we looked.”

Hugh Hefner
“The Playboy Club was meant to be fun and exciting, but it was also an illusion. You played by the rules,” Nett said.
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

She recalled that she had met Hefner and he was “a very gentle man and always around.” Nett remembered going to his “movie parties” on Sundays where he had “amazing” buffet tables. However, she “never went upstairs at the mansion, which was his private home.”

For all its wholesomeness though, there was still plenty of the type of behavior Playboy is known for, she said.

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“Whatever you think might have happened in the steam room, the game room, the grotto – happened,” she noted. “All of those things were made for sex. If you went to the grotto and saw someone over in the corner, either you left or joined them – whatever your desire was.”

Decades after her Playboy exit, Nett is still grateful for her life as a bunny.

“I credit Playboy for the life I have. It gave me the ability to express myself in a way that I still do today,” she concluded. “It’s a part of me, and I’m not ashamed of it. I feel youthful for my age. I do yoga and part of it is genetics. But the attitude? It’s all Playboy.”

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