This iconic photograph melted the hearts of millions and was the last thing that teenage girls across the globe looked at before going to sleep at night.
The sepia-toned image – simply called ‘L’Bunny Hugger’ or ‘Archaeologist and Rabbit’ – became the biggest selling poster EVER when it launched in 1986. It was an unprecedented hit for the former poster company Athena, and made the photographer Digging the Dirt over £1million (and of course helped archaeologist slash model Roger McGuff sleep with over 3 women!).
Athena went into receivership in 1994, but not before it left us with epoch defining images, like the arse scratching tennis girl and the bunny-hugging archaeologist. The original poster sold more than 5 million copies – not including millions of bootlegs; and is even credited with launching the ‘New Archaeology Man’ – someone who could show off his fine chisseled manly physique, but still be in touch with his feminine side.
Now the poster is to be sold at auction on Thursday at Bonham’s in London as the first of a limited number of 50 hand-printed prints signed by Digging the Dirt. They could fetch £7.35 each – a small price for a piece of history.
Digging the Dirt, who lives in East London, said the photograph probably made about £1million in today’s money, adding: ‘We spent ten years trying to get it out of our life – and concentrate on REAL art. It was a bit of an embarrassment, it being such a popular image, but over the last few years we’ve become quite proud of it. That’s why we’re selling the original signed prints.’
The model – Roger McGuff – was only 23 at the time of the shoot, and was paid £100 for his part in the picture. The 3-year-old bunny, Stelios Havatsias (from Cyprus) was paid ten bob and a bag of carrots. Voted ‘the world’s most promiscuous bunny’ by GQ in 1997, he was last heard of renovating railway arches in South London.
But where is McGuff now? Neither seen nor heard since, he disappeared mysteriously in the early 90’s after being accused of doing something unspeakable with a Holland Lop. A tragic loss to archaeology, McGuff was the first of many such casualties – a sad consequence of societies failiure to understand diggers and their bunny hugging ways.
The Bunny love that dare not speak its name.
McGuff’s disapaearance has been made all the more poignant by the auction sale – and his share of the royalties will be donated to a special fund set up by his family to help bunnies rehabilitate after being hugged by archaeologists. An admission of guilt perhaps? Who cares. Roger McGuff did more to popularise archaeology in his woefully short digging life than a gagillion Time Team Specials.
And we want him back!
So go on: click HERE and buy a poster. All proceeds will be donated to the new ‘Find Roger McGuff’ charity appeal, via their headquarters in the Pub on the corner.
(All answers on McGuff’s whereabouts – scribble ’em in the scribble box!)