4 out of 4 stars
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In A Playboy Bunny and UCLA, Vikki Richardson will rid you of any preconceived notions you might have about Playboy Bunnies. Richardson opens up her memoir by sharing that, “This book is about a baby girl who grew up facing many scary monsters and won.” Her memoir sheds light on her life before becoming a Bunny, as a Bunny, and her life afterward.
Richardson shares her life through stories. She spent her early childhood in poverty, part of which was in a home without running water or walls that kept the snow out. She suffered from many kinds of abuse at the hands of various people. Her musings about what it takes to be a Playboy Bunny, her unique application and the intensive training involved, and her divorce, as well as why she wanted to be a Bunny, are inspiring. Her life after being a Bunny is full of many transitions and dreams, with many interesting jobs and experiences. Throughout her life, the men in her life, both husbands and boyfriends, help her to grow as a person. For example, El Jabber and Richardson did some particularly interesting things in the intellectual realm (read the book to find out what!). Readers will learn a bit about her involvement in an NYC theater that expressed the Civil Rights Movement through acting. Eventually, life takes her back to California and UCLA. The time spent at UCLA helps Richardson realize her destiny.
Friendship is an overriding theme in Richardson’s life. Wherever she went, Richardson always seemed to be able to make friends quickly. Her closet bonds were so strong that even distance didn’t destroy them. This was especially true with a few of the other Bunnies that she met early on. They were each other’s family long past the time they were Bunnies and starting to make their way in the world.
Richardson writes in the first person, using her own vernacular, talking voice. She is an amazing storyteller. Her exuberance for life shines through many of her experiences. The descriptive imagery is remarkable. When describing what she had to do to help with hog killings, she states, “We squeezed all of the excrement out of the guts, and it plopped on the ground as if the pig pooped.” My favorite part of the story is how she makes connections with her current life and the past. For example, riding in a luxury limo is compared to the mule-drawn wagon of her childhood.
She often compares what is going on in the Civil Rights Movement with what is going on in her own life as a young black woman. For example, Freedom Riders were at their peak, fighting for their rights, while she experienced an equality climate as a Chocolate Bunny. Bunnies and other Playboy employees came from many ethnic and racial backgrounds, working together despite the climate in the country.
Before reading this memoir, I had some misconceptions on what it means to be a Playboy Bunny. I thought they were just sexy decorations for wealthy men. One couldn’t be a Bunny if they weren’t a hard worker, but there were many perks. Perks included special trips where they were treated like queens, like a big-wig’s houseboat, or simply hanging out at the Playboy Mansion during their time off.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. A Playboy Bunny and UCLA is an engaging story of hopes and dreams. With every transition, I was rallying for Richardson. There isn’t anything to dislike in this memoir. It is well-edited and worthy of a high rating. This story would appeal to those who like inspiring real-life stories, seek hope for their own future, or just like learning about lives that are different from their own.
A Playboy Bunny and UCLA
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