You probably already know all about Gloria Steinem‘s famous 1963 expose for which she went undercover as a “bunny” at the Playboy Club. But did you know Barbara Walters did it first?
It’s true. As part of Barbara’s year-long retirement party, NBC recently dug up a 1962 segment for which the young Ms. Walters chronicled a day in the life of a Playboy bunny, and what it lacks in hard hitting journalism, it makes up for in puff piece cuteness, right down to her little puffy tail. “Are most of the girls embarrassed when they first put the costume on?” she asks the bunny costumier, to which the costumier replies very precisely that only one in 143 do. “I think I’m two out of 143, I feel ridiculous,” says Barbara. Oh, Babs. So would we.
The short piece mostly focuses on how very un-scandalous it is to be a Playboy bunny, as bunnies are prohibited from drinking alcohol before or during their shifts, sitting with patrons, or (god forbid) dating men they meet at work. Despite (or perhaps because of) all these rules, Barbara seems somewhat enamored of the job. She’s proud that she can serve in that weird sidewise “bunny dip” without dropping anything, and she’s secretly pleased that the doorman thinks she’s a “real” bunny when she leaves the club early. (Just one more sign that it’s not the deepest exploration of bunnydom.)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this whole segment is the way her co-worker Hugh Downs is allowed to talk to her afterwards, saying, “you should be pleased, you make a very cute bunny…I enjoyed seeing you as a bunny.” I’m not saying sexism doesn’t still exist (it does), but it kind of makes you realize how far we’ve come in certain areas.