Among the women shown on the magazine cover is a former Playboy Bunny who said Bill Cosby raped her at a Chicago hotel.
CHICAGO — The “unwelcome sisterhood” featured on Monday’s New York Magazine cover of women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual abuse includes a former Playboy Bunny who said Cosby raped her at a Chicago hotel.
Patricia “P.J.” Masten, 65, of New Jersey, worked in Chicago for three years starting in 1979, she said in a phone interview Monday.
As a “bunny mother,” she said she was in charge of hiring, training and scheduling the bunnies who were cocktail waitresses at the Playboy Club along North Michigan Avenue.
“I loved it. It was the best 10 years of my life,” Masten said, “because of the camaraderie of all the bunnies. All of the celebrities we met. It was like going to a party every single day.”
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It was at the Chicago club at Michigan and Walton Street that a photo of Masten and Cosby was taken the day before he raped her, she said. By that time, she had known him for five years as she had worked in clubs in Los Angeles and New Jersey.
“All the bunnies would see him. He was always entertaining us,” Masten said. “We never felt threatened by him.”
The two went to lunch one day in 1979 at a hot-dog shop called Banquet on a Bun, she said.
Cosby called her the next day, Masten said, and asked her to dinner at the Whitehall Hotel in Chicago. She said she walked into a hotel room to find four men beside Cosby, drinking, watching sports and smoking cigars, and Cosby asked her if she wanted a drink.
“I really wasn’t much of a drinker, so I said I’d have a Grand Marnier,” Masten said.
He called a bellman to get a bottle and mixed the drink behind her, she said, before giving it to her.
“That’s the last thing I remember until 4 a.m. when I woke up and was pretty bruised and pretty battered and naked in the bed, and he was next to me naked,” Masten said. “I slithered out of the bed. I got my clothes and went downstairs and got into a cab.”
Masten said she “was freaking out” but took a shower and went to work.
Later that day, she said, Cosby called her, asked why she left and then said that he was sending something to her. Four hours later, a 4-foot ficus tree arrived at the office with a note that said, “You have to groom this tree like you groom our friendship,” she recalled. He called later and proceeded to give very detailed instructions on how to care for the tree.
“It was very strange,” she said. “I hung up the phone, and I threw the plant away.”
He kept calling, she said, first to try to go out with her again and then to ask her to pass on messages to at least two dozen other bunnies at the Chicago club.
“I said I wouldn’t pass the phone, and I ripped up every single message,” Masten said. “All I know is that I saved those women from the same fate I dealt with, and I’m happy about that. I’m proud of that.”
When she told her supervisor later that day, she recalled that her supervisor told her not to tell anyone.
“She told me, ‘Well, you know that’s Hugh Hefner’s best friend, right?’ ” Masten said. “I said, ‘He raped me.’ She said, ‘Nobody’s going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.’ And that’s what I did for 30-something years.”
Masten said she has undergone years of therapy, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and attempted a suicide.
Vindication and validation came, she said, when outcry grew against Cosby after comedian Hannibal Buress mocked Cosby’s self-righteous persona in an October standup show. Masten said she was finally motivated to come out herself late last year when accuser Judy Huth sued Cosby, alleging he molested her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15.
“When you let that secret out you start to feel that hole inside of you starting to heal,” Masten said. “He will be known as the most prolific serial rapist in the history of the United States of America … and he needs to be held accountable to all the damage that he has done to so many women.”
Martin Singer, Cosby’s attorney, did not immediately return a request for comment, but he has denied some of the recent allegations.
Masten was a surprise witness at the 1997 sexual-assault trial against sportscaster Marv Albert, according to a report by The Associated Press in December, when Masten first told her story to CNN. Albert pleaded guilty to assault and battery the day after her testimony, the AP reported, although he maintained after the trial that Masten’s accusations that he had bitten her during what she considered unwanted sexual advances were a “complete fabrication.”
Since she came out with her story, Masten said, several former Playboy Bunnies have privately messaged her on Facebook, telling her their stories about Cosby’s abuse. The weekend of the New York Magazine shoot, she said, was a great experience.
“We laughed. We cried. We ate. We danced,” Masten said. “We supported one another.”