Monday, October 25

Playboy Bunnies, Vintage Toys, QAnon Rabbits: The California Bunny Museum – In Pictures | California

TThe Bunny Museum, in Altadena, California, began with a spontaneously pronounced pet nickname. “I started calling him my honey bunny,” Candace Frazee says of her partner and museum co-founder, Steve Lubanski. “You know, you’re just kissing and saying so.” Due to the nickname, Lubanski gave Frazee a stuffed bunny for Valentine’s Day. In exchange, Frazee bought Lubanski a ceramic bunny for Easter. Then things escalated and the couple, who were married in a bunny-themed ceremony, began exchanging rabbit gifts on a daily basis. Now his collection contains more than 40,000 bunny items and is housed in his own museum.

Frazee and Lubanski.
Frazee and Lubanski today.

The museum is not exactly the Natural History Museum for rabbits. It’s more of a tribute to consumer culture, seen through the lens of bunnies. If an object was made in the last half century and had a bunny, it is most likely in the collection. Antiques, toys, art, boxes of Annie’s mac and cheese, White House Easter eggs, Noid promo figures, Bugs Bunny Christmas decorations. It’s all there, ordered by theme and densely packed from floor to ceiling.

In the first of an occasional series celebrating unconventional museums, I took a guided tour with Frazee and told him about the collection.

What is the most interesting thing you could tell me about bunnies?

That they have two uteri.

I guess that’s why they breed like rabbits.

The mother can get pregnant right after giving birth because she is using a different uterus. In nature, everyone eats the bunny. Coyotes, foxes, hawks, humans. So they have to multiply.

An inflatable bunny on the roof of the museum.
bunny costume hangs on a door among other souvenirs

Is there anything about rabbits that you were surprised to discover?

Let them eat their poop. Did you know that?

I did not do it.

When it first comes out it is soft and looks like a bunch of grapes and then they eat it. So they are eating their food twice. When it comes out for the last time, they are hard brown marbles.

A selection of bunny pots and coin banks.

Some of the things I’ve seen online [about your museum] seems a bit slanted intentionally to make this place look like a little creepy.

They call me the crazy bunny. And I’m not a crazy bunny. Sometimes interviewers or guests come and say, “What? You’re not wearing anything bunny. “Like right now. I’m not wearing any bunny clothes. Well, actually, my watch. But I’ve seen people come in with their laces and their sneakers and their shirts and it’s fun that they dress up to come. I love that. But I don’t do it every day. But when I went to get vaccinated this morning, I wore ears just for the picture. Because it was fun.

bunny model with carrot
bunny on the rock that says 'love grows hare'
A bunny snowball.
black and white striped bunny ornament

Do you know how many items are in your collection at the moment?

43,700 and something like that.

Do you have any idea how much has been spent on it?

It has a value of 1.9 million dollars.

A bunny puzzle.

Do you have a personal favorite item?

The first and second we acquire. If there was a fire or an earthquake, we’d run out the door with those.

Is there an article that you would say is the strangest? An article you like: “I can’t believe this exists”?

Practically all things.

Various decorations of bunnies, snowballs and music boxes.
A bunny warning sign.

Do you know what is the oldest item you have?

Yes, they are antiquity. 300 BC.

Are there any misconceptions about bunnies that you would like to clear up?

Yes. People assume they only like carrots. That’s for Bugs Bunny. And, unfortunately, plush and porcelain manufacturers always hit a carrot. That is not true. They like carrots, but you can’t eat carrots every day. It is as if you yourself weren’t going to eat a bologna sandwich every day. The bunny will eat a carrot, but it is not an everyday staple. People will bring carrots to feed the babies and I don’t care. Cool. But on an open house we got thirty bags of carrots. The sink was a bunch of carrots.

A display case containing the smallest items in the museum, including pins, coins, and key rings, with a magnifying glass on top.

Do you have a favorite fictional bunny?

I like Lola Bunny, Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend. I’m curious to see how they changed it for the next one.

I saw that some people were upset because she is less sexy.

She is not that sexy. Which is right. But I like her because she’s blonde and she looks like me. And she was, like, the only bunny until Judy Hopps with Zootopia. All famous bunnies are bunnies. Peter Rabbit. Brer Rabbit. Uncle Wiggly. Peter Cottontail Rabbit. Even the Easter bunny is a boy. People say “What about Peter Rabbit’s mother?” I say, “What is it called?” She is list C.

Real bunnies (below) and fake bunnies (above).
Some of the many Bugs Bunny items in the museum.

Do you have one of the least favorite uses of rabbits in popular culture?

Least favorite, right? Because they are all cute. Donnie Darko is pretty creepy. Things like that, which they use in horror movies. Even using cute bunnies in the movie Us. It’s like, really?

Is there Playboy? bunnies here?

They are in the Chamber of Hop Horrors exhibit because Hugh Hefner took the bunny and abused him. The Chamber of Hop Horrors is the abuse of rabbits throughout history – experimenting with bunnies, lucky rabbit foot keychains. I got a cup of QAnon on Amazon. They use the bunny. We do not approve. When i saw the QAnon posters and things like, “No way! They are wearing a bunny! ” It’s awful.

A mug of QAnon in the Hops Chamber of Horrors exhibit.

Did you ever think about what could have happened if you had chosen a different nickname?

We always talk about it. He could have said, “Oh, my little frog,” and this would be the frog museum. I could have called him my “big gorilla” and he would have given me a big stuffed gorilla and we would have had gorillas.

Assorted museum items.

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