Once upon a time, the Playboy Mansion was one of the most desirable party venues in Hollywood. Everyone wanted to get an invite to that private paradise tucked away in the Holmby Hills, and only the most beautiful women and A-List celebrities seemed to be able to get in the door. It was exclusive, and because of its exclusivity, shrouded in mystery.
In the mid 2000s, the interest around the spot got so high that E! created a reality series involving the three live-in girlfriends that Hugh Hefner had at the time – Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. While the women were the reason the show was so popular, the mansion itself served as an intriguing backdrop for all the activities.
With Holly Madison’s recent memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, more and more questions have been asked about the infamous mansion, how it runs, and what truly goes on behind closed doors.
Sure, the scandals and sex-a-thons that have gone on within the mansion’s walls for decade have earned their fair share of publicity and speculation. However, at the end of the day, one of the things that most people are curious about is the mansion itself. It’s become as much of an icon in the Playboy brand as the rabbit or the gorgeous playmates themselves.
Here are 10 things you may not have known about the Playboy mansion.
10 It is one of the only private homes in Los Angeles with a zoo license
The Playboy mansion is often thought to be a place of leisure, a place where beautiful women are just lounging around all day in bikinis. Sure, they have certain designated days when things get a little more family-friendly, but for the most part, it seems to be a bit more adult-oriented. However, playmates aren’t the only wild things on the Playboy property – Hef also keeps a variety of animals, birds in particular, as the mansion is one of the only private homes in Los Angeles with a zoo license. There are several varieties of birds, including peacocks, toucans, flamingos, and macaws, as well as an enclosure that houses several squirrel monkeys.
9 Hef doesn’t own it
The Playboy Mansion – and entire Playboy brand, honestly – have become nearly inextricably tied to the founder and editor-in-chief himself, Mr. Hugh Hefner. However, while he lives there, Hef is no longer the owner of the mansion. As many will know, the original mansion was located in Chicago, the city where Hef started it all. When he moved to sunny California in the 1970s, he snagged the current mansion, the home to many Midsummer Night’s bashes attended by beautiful celebrities. While you’ll still find Hef kicking around the mansion, the property is no longer in his name. He rents out the rooms and spaces he needs for his personal use, any for any blonde guests that are staying.
8 Fireworks are permitted - anytime
If you thought that the zoo permit was the only strange permit that the mansion managed to snag, you’d be wrong – the Playboy Mansion is also the only private residence in Los Angeles that has a permanent fireworks permit/pyrotechnic license. Sure, they could just get a temporary one for every year’s fourth of July extravaganza, but what would be the fun in that? With that coveted permit, Hef can order a spectacular show to be put on whenever he wants it, whether it’s to celebrate another big holiday or to cheer on a particular Playmate. The question is, what do the neighbours think about it?
7 The mansion was formerly owned by a Chessmaster
Hef and Playboy bought the iconic Los Angeles mansion in 1971, and Playboy has done some renovations over the years, but the property was originally built in 1927. So who walked those walls before the bevy of bunnies? Louis D. Statham, a gentleman who was both an engineer and a world-renowned chess player. Apparently, Statham’s inventions included devises that were implemented in NASA spacecraft navigation. With a property that size, he would have had more than enough rooms to set up workshops to fiddle with whatever engineering ideas he had. Sounds like things were a little bit more cerebral pre-1971.
6 It has a staff of 70 (bunnies not included!)
It takes a lot of work to run a huge household – after all, there’s a reason that many mansions employ at least a cook, a maid, and a groundskeeper of some sort. It’s a lot of square footage to take care of independently, and many individuals who are able to afford such large properties are busy working to earn enough to pay off that mega-mortgage! However, it might surprise you to find that the mansion employs about 70 people. This includes everything from chefs to butlers, groundskeepers, maintenance crews, security, and the zookeepers responsible for taking care of all the wild creatures.
5 The Lacey Chandelier
Due to Hefner’s personal tastes, while there have been a few renovations over the years to maintain the property, the style itself hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. It features a lot of wood panelling and antique details. Perhaps the most modern décor feature is in Hef’s own bedroom – and it’s courtesy of décor stores like Victoria’s Secret. Confused? We’re talking about the notorious chandelier. We’re not going to tell you all the salacious things going on behind closed doors (for that, you’ll have to skim through the various memoirs that former Playmates have penned), but through whatever means, Hefner has decorated the chandelier in his bedroom with panties from various women who have stopped by.
4 It’s over 20,000 square feet
When it comes to the houses of the rich and the famous, very little surprises the public at this point. Two private pools? No big deal. A home gym that’s the size of most peoples’ dream homes? That’s pretty much expected. A kitchen that’s better equipped than some of the country’s best restaurants? Whatever. However, the size of the Playboy mansion is truly staggering. Because only certain rooms and areas are shown, you might think it’s just the size of an average mansion, but the Gothic Tudor-style home actually has over 20,000 square feet of living space and sits on about 5.3 acres of land. A lot of bunnies must have gotten lost in there over the years!
3 It's the subject of a coffee table book
When you mention a book with Playboy as the main subject, most people will either think of one of the former Playmates’ memoirs, or one of the many biographies on Hugh Hefner himself. However, there’s one book that takes the mansion itself as its main subject. Released in 1998, Inside the Playboy Mansion: If You Don’t Swing, Don’t Ring is a coffee table book that takes the reader through the mansion. There are countless photographs detailing the various spaces that you may have only seen a glimpse of when they flashed across the screen in a movie or on a television show. Combine that with the various sidebars contributing extra information, and it’s basically like getting a private tour through the iconic space.
2 It has appeared in several television shows and movies
It’s no secret that the Playboy mansion is a little old fashioned in terms of its interior design. However, because of what an iconic structure it has become over the years, there are many television shows and movies that want to film within the Mansion walls. It’s almost always done in a very specific manner, having the characters involved in a storyline about actually visiting the Playboy mansion, and merely filming there instead of having an elaborate stage constructed. Which shows have briefly entered the mansion’s walls? Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Sex and the City, and even The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, back in the day. And don’t forget Anna Faris’ comedy The House Bunny.
1 It’s apparently really dirty
When you have staff to maintain a property, one would assume that it was constantly kept sparkling clean, right? It’s only us mere mortals without household help that have houses which sometimes get a bit messy between cleaning days, right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Several former Playmates have spoken out about the conditions in the house, which include animals that have never been house-trained relieving themselves within the Mansion walls instead of on the grounds, dust from the clutter and antiques, and just an overall strange and not entirely pleasant smell. Most of the big parties, such as the Midsummer Night’s bash, are held in big tents on the grounds – now we know why!