Retired hotelier Ray Marks and his wife Alexis, who was the first ever Playboy Bunny to be recruited in England, have had a colourful life, first meeting when Mrs Marks was working for her now-husband as a dancer in the summer shows.
‘We had our first kiss outside the butchers in St Sampson’s, which we visited and it is still there,’ said Mrs Marks.
‘My spiritual home is Guernsey, I can’t tell you that feeling when we’re here. We have had such happy times, it feels like paradise.’
Together they have two children and three grandchildren, and currently live in Torquay with their dog Charlie. They married in London in 1964.
From auditioning Playboy Bunnies in the 1960s to running 11 separate hotels – including one in Alderney and the Hotel Gleneagles, which inspired Fawlty Towers – Mr Marks has been enjoying a quieter life since his retirement in 2006.
‘My grandmother was in the show business and my father was a comedian. He was a part of Fred Karno’s Army with Charlie Chaplin,’ he said.
‘After I was chucked out of school at 15 I became a stage manager before moving into the National Service for two years, then became a stage manager in a strip club.’
He shared a memorable moment from when he was auditioning prospective Playboy bunnies.
‘The girls were told to bring a bikini and turn around and walk off and such,’ he said.
‘A Spanish girl looked a bit different as she walked across the stage in her underwear.
‘Turns out she’d been stood in the wrong queue and was actually applying for a job as a cleaner.’
Mrs Marks said her job was full of glamour, but extremely hard work.
‘Because it was such a long time ago people have the wrong idea about a lot of it. You could not fraternise with the customers or you would be sacked. You got huge tips – it was just fabulous work but it wasn’t easy. You were stood in five inch heels for eight-hour days and not allowed to sit down, wearing costumes made of whale bone and they were so tight,’ she said.
Since then she has embarked on various different quests, including working as a nurse, which she still does voluntarily in her spare time.
Guernsey has remained a special place for the couple after all these years.
‘He still makes me laugh, laughter is key in our marriage and he is affectionate as anything. We know each other so well,’ said Mrs Marks.
‘She tells me things before I know them myself,’ said Mr Marks.
It was their first visit to the island in some time, but Mr Marks said the traditional charm had remained.
‘It doesn’t seem to have changed – the buildings and things have changed but it’s still the same.’