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The Hooker and the Rabbit

Here’s a memory about Playboy Magazine, from our brilliant cartoonist, Randy Enos.

About 6 years into my tenure at Playboy magazine, they decided to start a comic strip section in the back pages. They already had a strip called Little Annie Fanny by Harvey Kurtzman that had been running for a while and they were keeping that separate from the “Playboy Funnies” which was to be the name of this new feature. They asked me to think of an idea for a strip. They said I could even have a couple of strips if I wanted, so, I started working on some ideas. The first thing that appealed to me was the idea of maybe doing an “old fashioned” looking strip, perhaps modeled after some of my favorites like “Polly And Her Pals” by the great Cliff Sterrett or Harry Hershfield’s, “Abie the Agent”. I tried a few of these amounting to about half a dozen samples and Hugh Hefner picked two. They would alternate, one in each issue.

The first one which I called “5 Cent Mary” derived its moniker from a person I knew of from my youth in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She was a legendary prostitute who worked the fishing piers and dives down in the cobblestoned streets of the city’s wharves. I actually met her once when my father and I were in a diner very early in the morning having breakfast before going fishing. For some reason, I don’t remember how, I knew who she was… maybe my father told me later. Anyway, she sat down beside me and said, “Haven’t I seen you in church?” I think I told her that I didn’t go to church. That was my brief encounter with the famous “5 Cent Mary.” I wish she could have known that I memorialized her in a Playboy comic strip. She probably would have enjoyed that.

I decided that my “5 Cent Mary”     would be a street hooker of the late 1800’s and that I would do it in linocut (the medium that I used for my illustrations) to give it a different look than all the other strips. Hefner loved it. Unbeknownst to me, his favorite cartoonist was John Held Jr. and, while I knew little of Held’s work at the time and hadn’t even thought about him when I created Mary, if you do a cartoon in linocut and you draw it in 19thcentury setting and costuming – BINGO, you get a John Held looking comic strip whether you like it or not! Hefner agreed with me that it should be the only strip in the Funnies section in black and white. He always loved it even when I had some pretty bad gags.

On two occasions, Hefner scribbled a little suggestion for me. One was for “Reg’lar Rabbit” where he drew a suggested expression for the rabbit and the other was on Mary where he suggested a little figure to fill an awkward space I had left in one panel.

The other cartoon he picked was “Reg’lar Rabbit”. My character was a horny little Farmer Brown-type of country hick who was always chasing the ladies. Reg’lar was drawn in a simple conventional pen and ink style with the addition of adhesive color. Doing “Reg’lar” was a nice break in my normal lino-cut illustration activity for the next 6 years.

A wonderful woman named Michelle Urry (who died young, unfortunately) was much beloved by the Playboy cartoonists’ community and was our contact with Playboy in the New York office. The strips and the gag cartoons for the magazine were collected up by her and taken to Chicago once a month where she would go over everything with Hef, who was always the final word on cartoons. On two occasions, he scribbled a little suggestion for me. One was for “Reg’lar Rabbit” where he drew a suggested expression for the rabbit and the other was on Mary where he suggested a little figure to fill an awkward space I had left in one panel. I’ve kept these crude little “notes” all these years. After all, how many people have an original Hugh Hefner cartoon?

Some of the other cartoonists that did strips included Bobby London, Chris Browne, Art Spielgelman, Lou Brooks, Jay Lynch, Mort Gerberg and more..

One year, we cartoonists were all invited to a special Playboy cartoonists’ party at the Drake Hotel in New York. I first met my long-time friend Elwood Smith at that party. As the evening wore on and the drinking accelerated to a spectacular pace, an odd thing happened in a side room in the suite. Michelle Urry had gone in there and came out screaming, “Are you all crazy… what is wrong with you???”

Well, I hadn’t been in that room so I rushed in to see what it was all about, and there my eyes beheld an amazing sight. All over the smooth, pristine, pale, muted walls of the sedate hotel room, several cartoonists had profusely, and I mean PROFUSELY scribbled cartoons with ball-point pens.

Some of them were pretty darn good, too!

Email Randy Enos

Here’s young Randy with his buddy, Elwood Smith. (I’ve always been a big Elwood Smith fan too –Daryl)

Read more more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Art School Days in the Whorehouse

The Card Trick that Caused a Divorce

The Mysterious Mr. Quist

Monty Python Comes to Town

Riding the Rails

The Pyramid of Success

The Day I Chased the Bus

The Other Ol’ Blue Eyes

8th Grade and Harold von Schmidt

Rembrandt of the Skies

The Funniest Man I’ve Ever Known

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part One”

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part Two”

Famous Artists Visit the Famous Artists School

Randy Remembers Tomi Ungerer

Randy’s Overnight Parade

The Bullpen

Famous Artists Schools

Dik Browne: Hot Golfer

Randy and the National Lampoon

Randy’s Only Great Idea

A Brief Visit to Outer Space

Enos, Love and Westport

Randy Remembers the National Cartoonists Society



I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part Two

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 .

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part One”

Randy Enos

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