What inspired them? Was it the prospect of Letterman, hooting and applauding, with a Cuban cigar teed in his teeth? Was it the dank mystique of such Ed Sullivan Theater neighbors as Flash Dancers and Legz Diamond’s? For reasons unknown, big-time burlesque came home to Broadway via the Late Show. In April, peace- and daisy-loving Drew Barrymore (above left) flipped up her T-shirt, giving her host a glimpse of her breasts. In September, just before movie critics panned her Las Vegas story, Showgirls, Elizabeth Berkley (above right) demonstrated, with a brief lap dance, some of what she learned on her way up. And in November, Demi Moore danced in a bikini to prove to Dave that she was prepared for her $12.5 million role in Striptease.
But it was anchor Barbara Walters’ burlesque of burlesque that knocked off Dave’s socks. As the band struck up a va-va-va-voom tune, Walters undid her trench coat and let the audience see her cleavage. An astonished Letterman wondered, ”Now, has Hugh [Downs] ever seen that?”