With only a few thousand dollars borrowed from the bank and friends, Hugh Hefner built the Playboy empire from scratch. It soon became, and still is, one of the world's most famous adult magazines, edited in over 30 countries worldwide. The very first Playboy magazine featured none other than Hollywood's beloved blonde, Marilyn Monroe, on the cover back in 1953. More than 50,000 issues were sold, but the magazine wasn't all about sexy pictorials, it also included intriguing articles and short stories written by the moment's disputed writers, like Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, and Vladimir Nabokov.
Permanently accompanied by beautiful young women, Hugh Hefner is one of the most envied men in the world. Indisputably associated with his name, the Playboy Mansion has always been subject to controversy, and it was back in the 1970's that Hef's ill-famed parties first caught the public's attention. It is one man's harem in modern days, a sanctuary of luscious lifestyle, hosting countless orgies. However, most of what really happens behind the Mansion's solid gates continues to be a mystery. Luckily, a few former Playboy Bunnies helped us expose the exaggerated indulgence and decadence inside the infamous, yet fascinating Mansion.
4 From the Original Mansion To Playboy Mansion West
The Los Angeles estate is without a doubt the very symbol of everything Playboy stands for. Only few know that the original Playboy Mansion was actually based in Chicago, and was a 70-room brick and limestone house purchased by Hefner in 1959. The original Playboy grotto was in the mansion's basement, and featured a swimming pool with a glass wall. Hef bought a second mansion in Los Angeles in 1971, which he called the Playboy Mansion West. It wasn't until 1974 that he permanently moved to the Californian estate. After he left the Chicago manor, it was turned into a dormitory for the School of Arts Institute, and was afterward converted into seven luxury condos, each valued at around $7 million.
Unfortunately, Hef does not own the Los Angeles mansion anymore. In 2011, he decided to make Playboy Enterprises a private company, and had to partner with an equity firm in order to buy back the company from shareholders. In the end, Hef ended up owing 34% of the company, but he still controls the magazine. The arrangement also cost him the Mansion. Playboy Enterprises currently owns the estate, and Hef has to pay rent for each room he uses exclusively for himself, his Playmates, and his guests. He pays an average $54,000 per month, and annual rents range between $700,000 and $1.4 million. The Playboy Mansion was valued at $54 million in 2011, but Playboy's mogul is not going anywhere. The famous Playboy Bunny House just across the street, purchased in 2002 for his Playmates to use, hit the market in early 2013, when it was listed for $11 million. Also known as the Bunny Hutch, the 6,690-square-foot house is minuscule compared to Hef's, and has been the home of many famous bunnies these past years.
A 360° Tour of the Playboy Mansion
Located in the prestigious Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, only 20 minutes from Beverly Hills' Sunset Boulevard, the palatial estate we all refer to as the Playboy Mansion is the work of famous American architect Arthur R. Kelly, and was built in 1927 in a Gothic-Tudor style. In 1971, Hugh Hefner and Playboy Enterprises purchased the estate from Louis D. Statham for $1.1 million. At the time, it was the highest price paid for a property of its kind in Los Angeles. Sitting on 5.3 acres of land, the manor and all adjacent structures sum up 21,987 square feet of living space. The main house alone counts 17,000 square feet of living area. Just like with his own magazine, Hef got really creative with his new playground, and added numerous quirky features and amenities over the years. Here's how a 360° tour of the Mansion looks like today:
There are 22 rooms in the house, but all activity revolves around the infamous master bedroom. The master bed is is three times larger than the common one. Permanently dressed in silk pajamas, Hef sleeps under satin sheets. There are two large TV screens he and his bunnies can watch from bed. There are also busts of Frankenstein and Dracula, while the centerpiece is a chandelier Hef hangs dozens of lace underwear on.
With black marble floors, the manor boasts priceless paintings by Salvador Dali, and the dinning room is dominated by a life-size cardboard cut-out stand-in of Hefner himself. The game room has a separate structure all for itself, with vintage and modern arcade games, jukebox, and large TV screens. One of Hef's most cherished amenities is the Prohibition-era styled wine cellar. The mansion was built during the Prohibition, and it came with a little secret of its own. A secret panel led to what is now the wine cellar, and what was then the place where they stashed the liquor. Another secret is a room called the Elvis Room, closed to the public, where it is believed that Elvis stayed with eight Playboy bunnies at a time.
There is a gymnasium, movie studio, and several tennis courts, where nude tennis has been played on many occasions. The Playboy Mansion is one of the few properties in the country with a zoo license, and Playboy's founder takes great pride in his many varieties of monkeys and over 50 species of exotic birds. However, Playboy's most decadent parties and most outrageous photo shoots have one thing in common: the swimming pool area. With its own waterfall, patio and barbecue area, grotto, sauna, lagoon, and bathhouse, this is where many infamous skinny dips have been reported.
Around 70 staff members look after the mansion, and 12 full-time chefs do their magic in the sophisticated kitchen with 24-hour service. A golf cart is at the guests' disposal to take them around the huge backyard, where they can spot anything from spider monkeys to peacocks and flamingos laying in the sun all day long. Perhaps the most ill-famed feature is the marble fountain in front of the manor, topped by the statue of a cherub molesting a dolphin, and there's even a Hollywood Walk of Fame boasting Hefner's star.
Behind Closed Doors
With Hef in his pajamas and customary smoking jacket and girls walking around half naked, many would say that the Playboy Mansion is Paradise on Earth. However, it is not all milk and honey, as there are strict rules that need to be obeyed. Girls are paid to live at the mansion, but there's a big difference between a Hefner Girlfriend and a Playmate. In fact, Hef preferred if his girlfriends did not become Playmates because he felt that as soon as they cashed in their 25,000 Playmate check, they would leave the mansion. So, each Hefner Girlfriend had her own bedroom, receives $1,000 a week in spending money, her own car, free medical and dental treatments, as many designer clothes as she could fit in her dresser, limitless facials, hair-dos, make-up, and cosmetic surgery.
Sounds like a pretty generous deal, right? Well, according to most of Hef's former girlfriends, it had its drawbacks. They all had to be back inside the mansion by 9 p.m., unless they were going out with Hef. They had numerous photo shoots and filming to do for the reality-show The Girls Next Door, counting six seasons between 2005 and 2009, starring Hugh Hefner and his Playboy sweethearts Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson, Crystal Harris, and Kristina Shannon. Plus, it became rather depressing seeing Hef all day long wearing nothing but his silk pajamas and smoking jacket, having all his meals in bed, barely moving even around the house. Playboy's mogul was, and still is a swaggering man, and all the dozens of girls living at the mansion made acquaintance with his bedroom. He actually declared that he's slept with over a thousand women.
How to get in? Well, you either have to know someone inside, or be invited to the party. Even though Hugh got married for the third time in 2012 with Crystal Harris, a Playmate 60 years younger than him, his legendary parties never stop. There are several each year, like the annual Midsummer Night's Dream Party on the first Saturday in August, Halloween, Hef's birthday, New Year's Eve, and many more. Of course, all have two things in common: more bunnies than you can count, and a strict dress code of lingerie or less. Unfortunately, Hugh himself usually issues the invitations. Luckily, Playboy Enterprises sometimes auctions tickets, but they come for a hefty price, and you can expect to drop between $5,000 to $10,000 for a few hours at the Playboy Mansion.
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Kate Moss posing in the famous playboy bunny costume. She was also the cover model for the January/February 2014 edition of the Playboy magazine. This edition celebrated the magazine's 60th anniversary.
Marilyn Monroe was the first woman and celebrity to be featured in Playboy magazine. She represented the magazines debut and had set the bar for the rest of the celebrities to follow. Following the magazine debut, celebrities started throwing themselves at the chance to be featured in Playboy.
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Playboy playmates also travel to various locations in order to attend parties. Above they are seen at the 2013 Super Bowl Party in New Orleans posing with rapper Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg).
The Halloween party at the playboy mansion is an annual event. People arrived dressed in various costumes and party all night long. Above is Hugh Hefner and wife Crystal Harris 'dressed' as vampires.
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Certain TV shows decided to latch onto the 'playboy bunny' concept. The above show called The Playboy Club, was a short-lived series that followed the lives of women who worked in the playboy club. It followed them through personal issues as well as work problems, however didn't do as well as expected and soon ended after only three episodes.
As mentioned in the article, certain girls in the house were also part of a reality show based on the daily lives of Hugh Hefner and his sweethearts. The show, The Girls Next Door, lasted six seasons, and it is rumoured that the girls did not enjoy filming the series.
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