The truth behind the fantasy. The Playboy Mansion is the stuff of pop culture legend, but former Playmates have been brutally honest about what life was really like there — and how the late Hugh Hefner treated them.
Holly Madison was never technically a Playmate, but she did live with Hefner, who died in September 2017 at age 91, at the California estate from 2001 to 2008. She starred in the series The Girls Next Door with Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt, who together made up the founder’s trio of girlfriends.
After the Holly’s World alum left the mansion, however, she wasn’t afraid to speak out about what she really experienced in Hef’s orbit. In 2015, she authored Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, which included tons of details about her time with the infamous publisher.
“I learned Hef was the manipulator and that he pitted us against one another,” she wrote of her relationship with other women in the house. “I realized I wasn’t treated well.”
In 2021, she spoke more about her memories during an interview for the A&E docuseries Secrets of Playboy. “I didn’t realize that getting into the Playboy world was a dangerous choice,” the Oregon native said in a promo for the show.
She previously revealed that she’d struggled with body dysmorphia while dating Hefner and working for Playboy. “[I] thought I had gained weight, and thought I hadn’t stuck to my diet, and I thought my thighs were huge and I thought, ‘I need to lose five pounds at least,’” she said in a TikTok video, recalling how she used to watch old footage of herself. “And that’s ridiculous. I look like a stick.”
The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice and the Road to Reinvention author also compared life at the mansion to life in a “cult,” with Hefner as the leader.
“It’s a very cult-like atmosphere anyway and you’re manipulated to feel that way, but on top of it, my own shame kept me there too. I just couldn’t really imagine a life outside of there,” she said during an April 2021 episode of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast. “Imagine having sex with somebody in a room full of women who all hate you and you know they’re all talking s—t about you. Like, how horrible? It was gross.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at all of the former Playmates and Playboy models who’ve spoken out against Hefner: