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Playboy gang symbol

The Playboy bunny is also a Vice Lords gang sign

By Jake Malooley |

Is the Playboy rabbit also a gang sign? I’ve seen graffiti near my neighborhood that looks a lot like the magazine logo.—J., Bridgeport

The tuxedo-clad bunny symbol that has been on the cover of every issue of Playboy (more than 670) is also one accepted symbol of the Almighty Vice Lords Nation. Like Playboy, the street gang traces its roots back to Chicago, starting up in the Lawndale neighborhood in the early 1950s—right around the time Hef was launching his men’s mag. Back then, the Vice Lords was a neighborhood social and service club, which maintained an office and opened a restaurant and ice-cream parlor called Teen Town. As rival African-American clubs sprung up, symbols of wealth became more central to the sharp-dressed crew: top hat (shelter), cane (strength), glove (purity)—and the Playboy bunny, which according to Gangs: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition, “symbolizes the quickness and alertness of gang members.” Though the date of the earliest uses of the bow-tied bunny are unclear, UIC prof John Hagedorn—author of the gang studies People & Folks: Gangs, Crime, and the Underclass in a Rustbelt City and A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture—speculates the symbol has been employed by the Vice Lords since the early 1960s, “probably after the first Playboy Club opened.”

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