Wednesday, September 14, 2011
SMU office building has a Playboy past
The off-campus Expressway Tower used to be home to the Dallas Playboy Club.
"Bend your knees straight down. Lean forward just enough, but not too far."
According to Karen Drennan, former Playboy Bunny, that is how you perform the "bunny dip," the signature move from the Dallas Playboy Club.
The same club used to call SMU's Expressway Tower home in the late 1970s. SMU acquired the Expressway Tower in January of 2006, and before the fall semester of 2007 began, university offices made the move across the highway.
"We needed more room on campus, so we started moving all nonessential campus offices to the Tower," SMU director of real estate William Nemeth said. "About 40 percent of the building now is SMU offices."
Today, the Expressway Tower is home to the human resources department, Park ‘N Pony, and some offices for the school of education and the school of engineering. The treasurer's office is scheduled to move there in October.
Now a university hub for processing paperwork, it is hard to imagine the 15-story office building on the corner of Yale Boulevard and North Central Expressway as the hotspot of the city.
"We were iconic at that time," Drennan said. "The club was a magnet for Dallas."
Drennan was one of the first 200 bunnies picked for the grand opening of the Dallas Playboy Club in 1977. Though only 17 when the Bunny Hunt began, she lied about her age in order to get the job. Her father, local television news anchor John Criswell, didn't approve, but Drennan knew this was the job for her.
"It was just so much fun," Drennan said. "It was the best experience to work there back then."
Drennan put herself through the University of Texas at Dallas with the tips she earned by waiting tables and doing the "bunny dip." She remembers making around $300 a night, serious money in the '70s. At that time, the drinking age was only 18, so Drennan remembers both students and professors making their way to the club after hours.
"It was the place to be," Drennan said. "People were always lined up outside the door."
The Expressway Tower was first built in 1968, and it has housed a variety of different offices. In addition to the Playboy Club, it also previously served as the Dallas Cowboys office.
"The building was built by the former owner of the Cowboys," Nemeth said. "In fact, the AUP parking lot used to be the Cowboys practice field."
According to Drennan, this proximity often fueled the rivalry between the Playboy Bunnies and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders back in the day.
"The cheerleaders once said to a newspaper, ‘We're not stewardesses, hookers or Playboy Bunnies,'" Drennan said. "We just thought that comparison was ridiculous, because there was never any nudity at the club! They were just jealous."
Though the club closed in 1982 and the whole surrounding area has changed over the years, Drennan has nothing but fond memories of her time as a Dallas bunny.
"It's funny that it's a school now," Drennan, now age 53 and a Flower Mound resident, said. "I will always remember it with the big pink bunny logo on the front."
Pegasus News Content partner - The Daily Campus
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