denver's deanna baker leads a liberated life as pool bunny, judo expert, part-time entrepreneur and full-time conservationist
Deanna Baker, 22, lives across the street from Denver's Hungarian Freedom Park. "Somehow, I think that's significant," she says. "It's not so much the monument to the Hungarian patriots of 1956 -- but the name of the place, Freedom Park, that means something special to me." Any keyholder who visits Denver's Playboy Club and plays a round of bumper pool with the expert Miss Baker is likely to feel there's something special about her as well. Deanna, who was raised in Kirksville, Missouri, a small state-college town of about 16,000, moved to Denver in 1969. "I simply had to make a change in my life, get away from home," she says, "and Denver seemed like a good place to try it." In June 1970, she began working as a Bunny and she's been sharpening her cue technique ever since. Besides a marked improvement in her massé shot, Deanna feels her job has brought her other benefits. "As a Pool Bunny, I have an opportunity to establish one-to-one relationships with Club guests on a basis other than 'Can I get you another cocktail, sir?' Lately, perhaps because of this experience, I've sensed that I've become more flexible and understanding in dealing with people." A formidable opponent at the pool table, Deanna excels at more strenuous sports, too. While in high school, she competed in track-and-field events and organized a girls' softball team. After graduation, Deanna took a job as copy writer and secretary for a hometown radio-and-television station. "Then I went to work at an osteopathic hospital. Partly out of boredom and partly because I think every woman can use some education in self-defense, I also enrolled in a judo class." Although judo degrees are awarded at a shiai (certified competition), Deanna has attained the equivalent of a brown belt in unofficial contests. At present, she's involved in efforts to preserve the Colorado mountain wilderness. To raise funds, Miss Baker is participating with a friend in a novel entrepreneurial venture. "The idea," she says, "is to develop a business that deals directly with the long-hairs and counterculture kids who distrust most business enterprises. We are selling head products like pipes, sheepskins and Indian incense. Our goal, when we start making enough money, is to buy land in the Rockies. My personal dream is to restore a mountain area to its ecological balance -- and I'm determined to do it, even if I have to move onto the property and do all the work myself." That seems an unlikely prospect; we'll venture a guess Deanna will have no trouble recruiting whole brigades of willing volunteers, whatever project she sets her mind to.
Photography by Dwight Hooker, Bruce McBroom