Famous educator and feminist Camille Paglia once named Hugh Hefner “one of the principal architects of the modern sexual revolution.” Hef’s playboy lifestyle was revolutionary in the 1970s. It made real the male fantasy of being completely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. And one of Playboy’s principal elements was the idea that women could enjoy sex as much as men. When talking about his lifestyle and the topic of sexual addiction, Hef stated, “I don’t think there is a sexual addiction like drug addiction. But there is compulsion. And there are those who use sex as an obsession, like gambling… when you’re obsessed, you allow it to f**k up your life. I’m just the opposite.” Camille Paglia finishes that thought by saying that “feminism got totally off track. The real direction of the liberation of women, of my generation, was toward Playboy, not away from it.”
But just because Hef helped make human sexuality more open doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Playboy secrets very few know about. Holly Madison, formerly Hef’s “Number One Girl,” has said a lot about her time living in the playboy mansion. Holly stated that fans of the show The Girls Next Door – the reality television series that focused on the lives of Hef’s girlfriends who lived with him at the Playboy Mansion – were seeing things “in a way that wasn’t really real.” Holly says that the show “didn’t reflect the whole of my experience being a woman in that environment.” Well, we’ve done the work and dug up 10 things that most people don’t know about Playboy. We’ll take you beyond what Holly explains as simple “propaganda,” and dig deeper into the truth.
10. Life At The Mansion Is Cult-ish
Playmate Carrie Leigh said this almost 15 years ago: “It’s almost like a cult.” Young woman and men try to gain access into the mansion and the Playboy lifestyle every year. The obvious attraction is wealth and celebrity status. But as Playmate Carrie Stevens once said, “It’s like a big sorority… [But] I wanted to grow up, do something with my life, and [Hef] didn’t like that.”
“When you live in an environment like that, that’s so different from how other people live, you start forgetting who you are and what you believe is right.” said Carrie Leigh. “It’s like the song Hotel California – ‘Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice. We’re all just prisoners here.’ You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’ It took me a few years after I did leave to wipe it out of my head.”
We now know from Holly Madison, not much has changed today.
9. Hef Is a Huge “Hoarder”
It is well-known among insiders that Hef has an “endless desire for mementos.” This fact comes verified by an endless stream of former Playmates and Playboy mansion staff. In fact, Hef has over 2,485 volumes of scrapbooks. Hef’s archives include items detailing his life from the most public of events down to the most obscure notes. They include a famous nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that appeared in the first issue of Stag Party (the original name of Playboy magazine) as well as a psychological assessment of Dorothy Stratten (a Playmate of the Year shot and murdered by her estranged husband in 1980). No one really knows how Hef got a hold of the assessment.
Carrie Leigh and others have also mentioned hidden video cameras in Hef’s bedroom. They claim Hef maintains hundreds of videotapes depicting personal orgies and sexual encounters dating back to the 1970s. You can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.
8. All Sex Is Catalogued
In the mid ’80s, Hef destroyed “all” of his tapes hoping to avoid people getting hurt after Carrie Leigh walked off with a tape. But besides his personal video archive, Hef maintains logs of all his sexual activity, keeping them in a private cabinet in his bedroom. “There were stacks of them,” Leigh says. “On the left, it would say the names of the people. Next to that, it would say the type of sex . . . and to the right of that, he would grade it. A-plus-plus-plus was the highest grade, down to C-minus.”
Hef also keeps a picture of every girl who’s ever been to the mansion. A mansion staff member takes photos of women visiting for the first time. The next day, Hef reviews each photo and rates them A, B, or C. The criteria being mostly how the woman looks or how little she is wearing.
7. The Ruthless “Mean Girl-ing”
“Prior to moving into the Mansion, I’d been a fairly confident person, but it didn’t take long for my self-worth to crumble,” said Holly Madison, former Playmate and “Number One Girl” in the house. Holly Madison ventured from the Las Palmas nightclub in Hollywood to the luxurious Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, transforming from a Hooters waitress into a “glamorous” Playmate. However, the glamour quickly wears off, says Holly.
It is not unusual for Hef to have as many as seven girlfriends at any one time. Holly says intimacy was at a minimum but “Mean Girl-ing” was at an all-time-high. “It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to overhear [the girls’] loud whispers criticizing my appearance.” Apparently the girls use tactics, like stealing clothes, to gain the upper hand. Younger and hotter girls are constantly coming into the Mansion. And competition is ruthless between the Playmates, who all seek status as Hef’s Number One Girl.
6. The Strict Mansion Rules
Many of the girls have complained about the strict mansion rules before saying they feel more like prisoners than glamorous Playmates. Indeed, girlfriends have the privilege of living in the mansion rent-free. Beyond that, there is a curfew, and the girls are usually home at “5:30 or 6:00 [p.m.]. Every single night. It was basically on [Hef’s] program. It was a little bit monotonous. Or, if I wanted to go to sleep at 11:00 [p.m.], he’d want me to stay up with him till 1:00 or 2:00 [a.m.] and watch things. [Hef] doesn’t like to be alone.”
There is also an allowance given to the girls of “a thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred-dollar bills.” If the girls break the house rules, they lose their allowance. And “while you’re welcome to order any food or drink at any hour, you aren’t allowed in the kitchen even for a glass of water,” says Izabella St. James.
5. Hef Can Be a “Manipulator”
Hef’s known to play head games with Playmates. “I learned Hef was the manipulator and that he pitted us against one another,” says Holly Madison. “Hef liked to play the main girlfriend off the youngest one to try to create competition.”
Every girl in the house wants the centerfold picture eventually, and competition is heavy in that atmosphere. “You were always worried you’d get kicked out on the street because someone lied about you,” says Madison. Hef could even go so far as to randomly change one of his long-held strict rules to show favor to a newer, hotter girl in the house.
Basically, if you live under Hef’s roof, you abide by Hef’s rules. They are not always consistent or even fair, or make sense at all. I doubt Hef even has time to keep track of such trivial matters but the girls seem to have been really affected.
4. The Bizarre Sex Stories
The stories themselves can border on the creepy, or, on the other hand, they may sometimes sound pretty lame. Once Hef offered Playmate Holly Madison a quaalude out of “a crumpled tissue” on their first night out clubbing together. When she refused, Hef retorted, saying, “in the ’70s they used to call these pills ‘thigh openers’.”
“I wanted out of there so badly,” said Carrie Leigh. “I saw what happened to some of the girls who stayed. Every Friday, every Sunday, ‘[Some celebrity] wants you in Room Two.’ You go to Room Two.” As a house rule, the girls can never spend a night away from the mansion – unless they are hanging out with Hef. And Hef regularly plays old sex-tapes of himself getting it on with his old girlfriends. As the videos play on two large-screen TV’s in his master bedroom, he’s known to “pleasure himself,” as a large cluster of Playmates pretend to “get it on” around him.
3. A Few Things About the Mansion
We all believe the Playboy Mansion is that unique baller house where all the magic happens. This is the common mythology we’ve known since basically forever. The truth is, Playboy Enterprises, Inc. is the real owner of the Mansion. Hef doesn’t actually own the Playboy Mansion. Hef pays for “that portion of the Playboy Mansion used exclusively for him and his personal guests’ residence as well as the per-unit value of non-business meals, beverages and other benefits received by him and his personal guests,” according to the SEC. Rent was reportedly $1.3 million in 2004.
It is also not the only Mansion of its kind. There’s actually another copy of the Playboy Mansion right next door. Hef purchased the mirror house in 1996 and Hef’s ex-wife Kimberley Conrad and their two children lived in the house until 2009. It’s a mirror image of the real Playboy Mansion, only smaller.
2. Hef Has a Possessive Side
It looks like Hef lives the “sexual revolution” lifestyle. Hef certainly had his fun in his heyday. But it isn’t as “loose” as we all believe. Holly Madison wrote in her book Down the Rabbit Hole that the “protocol was that we stay at Hef’s table all night.” The bunnies were only allowed to dance if it was right in front of Hef’s table. And they were only allowed to leave the table to go to the bathroom.
It is well-documented that Hef does indeed have a possessive side. After the wild parties, Hef requires that the girlfriends go upstairs with him. And there have been many rumors about bunnies sneaking out after-hours to get it on with other celebrities and meet other men. Of course this would be hard to do – the mansion has its own in-house video staff who send Hef highlight reels of all the happenings from the night before.
1. The Messiness of It All
The Mansion is reportedly in major need of overhaul and upgrades. Visitors often complain about odors and stains on the carpet left by dog urine. And stains on the furniture. And rooms stocked with “trays of Johnson’s Baby Oil, Vaseline and Kleenex.” And in 2011, the house tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, which caused hundreds of people to get sick. Old magazines and papers are reportedly littering the floor all around Hef’s giant, king-sized bed. Madison reported, “I stumbled over and weaved through massive piles of junk covering the floor… It was like an episode of Hoarders.”
Keepsakes from the past fill the house. “I can be at my most creative like this,” Hef explains. Without exaggeration, many people have described the Mansion as “really, really depressing,” old, run-down, cheap, basic… and so on. Hopefully they’ve spruced the place up a bit, because as of January 2016, the Playboy Mansion is up for sale for $200 million.