Porirua man becomes New Zealand's first drag queen Playboy bunny

By Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters, The Hui

Playboy has been an iconic magazine brand for 70 years, with Marilyn Monroe gracing the first cover back in 1953. 

In 2013, Gemma Lee Farrell from Pirongia became New Zealand's first "playmate" and was crowned Miss November. 

Twenty years later, with the move from print to online, Playboy welcomed its first ever drag queen bunny. 

Raife May of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, was raised on the east side of Porirua. May is a Government officer worker by day and becomes Bunny Holiday by night when performing at a local Wellington nightclub.

Since winning the MX Capital drag pageant in 2022, as alter ego Bunny Holiday, she has become known across Aotearoa New Zealand's drag queen scene as 'Wellington's It Girl'.  

When Playboy announced it was taking applications for online creators, Bunny Holiday saw an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her Playmate idols Anna Nicole Smith, Pamela Anderson, and Holly Madison. 

She has been accepted to join the Playboy brand as a content creator on its new website. 

"They were asking for inclusivity. I had noticed that they had some cis men and trans women as bunnies. And I didn't see any drag queens or anything like that," she said.

"I was like, 'Well you already look the part, you know everything about it, just give it a go.' 

"I didn't hear from them in five months and I was like 'Oh my god, I haven't got it'" she said. " I was really sad about it". 

"Then I got the email at mahi one day, and I couldn't stop screaming. They were like you're officially a Playboy Bunny." 

Raife May as Bunny Holiday, the world’s first-ever Playboy bunny drag queen.
Raife May as Bunny Holiday, the world’s first-ever Playboy bunny drag queen. Photo credit: Supplied/Kiah DeRose

With Coronavirus locking down the world in March 2020, Playboy released its final magazine, and in March this year the brand announced it was taking on the multi-billion dollar online market dominated by Onlyfans.  

Bunny Holiday applied for Playboy's Centrefold programme which is said to be less explicit than the content published on Onlyfans. 

"No it doesn't mean I'm going to be having sex on camera, sorry about that," she joked.

"There's actually stipulations in the small print that we aren't to do any explicit content, there are rules that we have to adhere to."

"It's still Playboy. Playboy is seen as the girl next door. It's art." 

He said he shares a close relationship with his mother and for the first ten years of his life he grew up in a violent household fuelled by drugs and toxic masculinity. 

"The men that I grew up around were rough, it was toxic masculinity at 100 percent, I never felt aligned with that," May said.

Bunny Holiday in her Playboy photoshoot.
Bunny Holiday in her Playboy photoshoot. Photo credit: Supplied/Kiah DeRose

May believes despite facing ridicule for expressing his feminine nature as a kid, it never deterred him from playing with Barbie dolls or wearing girls' clothes. 

"I don't think I tried to antagonise them with my femness, but I never tried to hide it," he shared.

"I think they were just worried about how people would treat me."

An internationally recognised author and poet Tayi Tibble became friends with May when they attended Aotea College together.  

She said both May and herself found refuge from their daily struggles in one another's creativity. 

Raife May, 28, is the mastermind behind Bunny Holiday.
Raife May, 28, is the mastermind behind Bunny Holiday. Photo credit: Supplied/Kiah DeRose

"Raife and I kind of grew up with fairly limited resources and maybe not always the encouragement that we wanted to see at certain times," Tibble explained.

"I think a lot of the things in art and the things we were creating and were interested in at the time we kind of were drawn to," she said. " I guess it was a form of escapism from our realities that we were seeing in our day-to-day lives." 

May said he was first inspired by Playboy when the brand released the hit reality TV show Girls Next Door. 

"My favourite era of Playboy was when Hugh Hefner had seven girlfriends in the late 90s and early 2000s. Every one of those women are so inspiring to me, they are so beautiful," he said.

Tayi Tibble, 27, is an internally recognised poet and May’s bestfriend from highschool.
Tayi Tibble, 27, is an internally recognised poet and May’s bestfriend from highschool. Photo credit: Supplied/Kiah DeRose

"Everything about them, from their makeup to their hair, to the way they are, to the way they dress, to the way they present themselves."

He said he tries his best to emulate the "perfect woman".

"I kind of ate up all the history of Playboy that I could and then I started finding all the iconic Playmates and all of the women that started inspiring my art and the way I want people to perceive me, like Anna Nicole Smith and Pamela Anderson," he explained.

Bunny Holiday now has online friendships with some of the famous Playmates  

"I've somehow slid into their DMs and got make up tips and outfit tips from them," he said.

Instagram message from Holly Madison to Bunny Holiday.
Instagram message from Holly Madison to Bunny Holiday. Photo credit: Suppplied

From releasing her debut single 'Move Bitch' last year, Bunny Holiday is now focused on creating her girl-next-door content for Playboy and is keeping a very clear intention of where they are headed. 

"I never thought I'd actually be a Playboy Bunny and here I am I did it," May said proudly.

"The next step for me would be getting on [Ru Paul's] Drag Race, or something like that which is a huge platform for drag queens, especially 'Down Under'. 

"I want everything I can get out of life."