COURTESY LAUGH FACTORY HAWAII
You can't tell by her blond hair and Southern drawl, but Julie McCullough was born in Hawaii.
Julie 'The Funny Bunny' McCullough and Josh Wolf
On stage: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
Time: 8 p.m. Saturday
When she first appeared in the pages of Playboy as the magazine's "Playmate of the Month" in February 1986, the Irish-American was an inexperienced 21-year-old actress living in Los Angeles and struggling to launch her career. McCullough took advantage of the opportunity, using her newfound fame to land a variety of film and television roles.
At the same time, she was training to become a stand-up comic, touring with a comedy troupe and performing at Hollywood's famous Improv comedy club. More than two decades later, McCullough still uses her Playboy fame to help make audiences around the country laugh at her jokes.
The Star-Bulletin caught up with McCullough last week in Los Angeles.
Question: Your MySpace profile lists four different home states, from West Virginia and North Carolina to Texas and Hawaii. What is your connection to the islands?
Answer: I was born there, and that's where my family is originally from. My mom met my dad in Hawaii when my dad was in the military. ... (She) went to school there, graduated from Radford High School.
My grandparents used to live in Aiea, and my mom also went to Waianae High School. But I don't have any family there anymore. They all left.
Q: You're billed as "The Funny Bunny" in a nod to your appearance in Playboy. Which came first, modeling or stand-up comedy?
A: I actually started out taking classes at the Improv 20 years ago. In the meantime, I formed friendships and work relationships with a comedy troupe, so I toured with them.
This was all going on at the same time that I was a Playmate and when I did the TV shows. I was on stage the entire time.
Q: What made you decide to model for Playboy?
A: I'd actually never even seen a Playboy magazine until I was asked to pose in it. It was just that I got asked to do it. I didn't really think much of it.
Q: How did your family react?
A: My family was very conservative. ... At first, my parents said no immediately. And then they got back with me after they discussed it and they said, "You're a young adult, but you're still an adult, and that's a decision you'll have to make for yourself."
They didn't want me to make a choice or decision that I would later regret. And I never did regret it, so there you go.
Q: Over the ensuing years, your pictures have appeared in a number of other Playboy publications.
A: Actually, I never posed again. Those are all old photos. They have the pictures forever (and) can reprint them from here to kingdom come.
Q: So you never posed nude again after your original photo shoot?
A: No. I honestly didn't have any desire to do that again. One thing I did do is take a tour with (Playboy), a 50-city bus tour of the U.S. as a bunny. It was a blast. ... I was the host, so I basically had the microphone the entire time.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with Hugh Hefner?
A: I live right next door to Hef! I'm actually friends with all of Hef's girlfriends ... I'm Hef's real "girl next door!" I've been on the show a bunch.
Q: Speaking of television, back in the day you got into a big tiff with Kirk Cameron when the two of you worked on "Growing Pains." Did he ever apologize for getting you fired because of your appearance in Playboy?
A: I honestly don't care. I got bugged about it a lot on MySpace ... so I wrote a whole blog about it. According to the way of the master, we're all sinners and we're all going to hell ... if you read science books, philosophy books or believe anything Darwin has to say, then you're going to hell.
I just thought, "I'm not going to hell, but if I am, I'm gonna go well-read and well-informed!"
I was really proud of that blog.
Q: So the two of you have never reconciled?
A: I did see him one time a few years back, when I was doing the "Drew Carey Show." He literally looked at me and just kept walking.
Q: What can we expect from your stand-up?
A: Most of my comedy stuff is about being a Playboy pin-up and being a former actress and TV star. I'm a little on the blue side. Not terribly, but yes, I go there.
Q: Any plans to get more serious again about film and TV?
A: I'm going to be a part of this one show that's upcoming. It's called "Encore," and it's going to be on TV soon. And I'm on Scott Baio's new show, and I'm occasionally on Hef's show.
Eventually I will go back to doing TV full time. But for the next year, probably, I'm just going to tour as a comic. I'll be in New York next fall for the New York Underground Comedy Festival.
And my best friend is (Hawaii-born) Tia Carrere! I want to do a sitcom with Tia, so I'm trying to get something going with the two of us.