Gloria Steinem’s two-part series chronicling the eleven days she spent undercover as a Bunny in Hugh Hefner’s New York Playboy Club in 1963.
Effects and Outcomes
Show Magazine is long forgotten but not this story; it lives on among the most amusing and talked about of undercover exploits. It was instrumental in stopping Hugh Hefner’s clubs from giving physical examinations to applicants. It also made Steinem a celebrity, drawing some attention she did not find altogether welcome. She returned an advance for a book contract to expand the idea, and at about the same time, rejected an assignment to expose high-end prostitution by posing as a call girl, an idea she found as insulting as it was frightening.
For a long time, Steinem saw her 11 days as Bunny “Marie Ochs” (hired under her grandmother’s name and social security number) as a huge career blunder. It led to no serious new assignments and became her least-favored but often-invoked characterization. Only later did she understand the usefulness of the ruse that allowed her to expose Playboy’s “phony glamour and exploitative employment policies.” In autobiographical notes included in her collection of writings, the book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, she lists the project among her personal celebrations, saying, “My expose of working in a Playboy Club has outlived all the Playboy Clubs, both here and abroad.”