My First Job: Lesley Pearse, the best-selling author, was a bunny girl

'It changed my life by boosting my confidence'
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The Independent Online

I didn't even want the job. In 1968 my girlfriend talked me into going along for the ride at the Bunny Club in Park Lane. I was just going to sit there but was roped in; I used to wear 12in miniskirts and boots and looked the part. I don't think I was docile enough but I had good legs and boobs and I looked wholesome. I got picked and my friend didn't; she's never forgiven me. I was lured by the money, which was twice as much as I earned in an office.

It was very regimented, with long hours. The high heels were the kiss of death for me; I can remember my aching feet. You didn't have a lot of fun there. We'd glam up: we used to wear false eyelashes and bunny ears. A lot of the girls had to pad up their boobs with cotton wool. The tail was all-important and they had a thing for fluffing it up. You had to be well-spoken and reasonably bright. A lot of them were quite aristocratic girls, who would have been debs and Sloanes.

You had to be pretty smart to be a croupier but I was a bog-standard cocktail waitress. I would take the drinks from the bar and hand over the change. It wasn't rocket science. You'd do the "bunny dip" and bend your legs while serving the drinks; you wouldn't bend forward and expose your boobs or fall out of your costume.

I never regretted it. It changed my life. I'd never seen myself as a raving beauty but they picked me out and gave me this feeling that I was worth something. That's very valuable for young girls. I was brought up in the kind of home where no one told you that you were pretty or clever: tough love. That job gave me enormous confidence.

You'd get men who were quite letchy. We were supposed to be as pure as the driven snow – quite apart from the fact that we didn't fancy any of them. In the early days it had been more film stars. Omar Sharif had kind of disappeared by 1968 and it was more businessmen of 40, which was as old as the hills to us.

Much later the father of one of my daughter's friends said, "Lesley was a bunny girl, which means she was a prostitute." I was furious. When his daughter got married she had a hen night. They stopped traffic; they were dressed as bunny girls.

'Faith' is out in paperback and 'Gypsy' is out in hardback, published by Penguin, priced at £16.99.