One of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s most notorious girlfriends says she never had casual sex before meeting him and was ‘kind of asexual’ before the first night she slept with the magazine publisher.
‘I never had casual sex with anybody before. I feel like I was kind of really asexual, so maybe I just wasn’t ready for that,’ she reveals in the premier of ‘Secrets of Playboy,’ a 10-part docuseries that aired Monday on A&E.
Holly Madison, 42, said her mom even thought she had Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism, because she had so much trouble ‘connecting with other people.’ Madison was 21 when she moved into the Playboy mansion in 2000 and became Hefner’s ‘special one,’ or main girlfriend.
‘I think I was drawn to try and be in the spotlight because I felt like if I could be famous, that would be a shortcut to feeling a connection with people,’ Madison says in the ‘Secrets of Playboy.’
‘I wasn’t physically attracted to Hef, but I did find him very charming.’
The former ‘Girls Next Door’ star also claimed Hefner offered her a Quaalude, a powerful sedative that has been illegal since 1984, the first night she went out with him and his other girlfriends. He allegedly told her, ‘They used to call these thigh-openers in the ’70s.’
Hefner died in 2017. His son, Cooper Hefner, has since come out against the documentary, tweeting that the stories are ‘a case study of regret becoming revenge.’
The documentary features Hefner’s former butler, who claims his boss would host ‘pig night’ where he would invite high-profile and celebrity friends over and secretly film them having sex with ‘ugly’ prostitutes he had hired. A former assistant claims Hefner used the amphetamine Dexedrine every day to keep himself alert.
Holly Madison, 42, became Hefner’s ‘special one’, or main girlfriend, and moved into the Playboy mansion aged 21 in 2000. Above, Madison in the new docuseries Secrets of Playboy
Madison, above at 15 in 1995, says she always had trouble connecting with people and that her mom thought she may have Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism spectrum disorder
Madison, above with Hefner in 2002, says she was disgusted by how Hefner refused to use protection
Madison’s (right) ‘special relationship’ with the magazine publisher was portrayed over the course of 91 episodes on E!’s The Girls Next Door, which ran from 2005 to 2010
Monday’s premiere began with a statement from Playboy magazine: ‘Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy. We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences.’
Over the weekend, Playboy issued an open letter on Medium addressing what it called the ‘allegations of abhorrent actions’ by Hefner and others.
‘We trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences,’ the leadership team wrote.
‘We will continue to confront any parts of our legacy that do not reflect our values today, and to build upon the progress we have made as we evolve as a company so we can drive positive change for you and our communities.’
Madison studied at Portland State University and moved to Los Angeles to finish her degree in psychology and theater at Loyola Marymount, according to Cosmopolitan.
She worked as a waitress at Hooters and a model until she was invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion by Hefner’s physician.
According to Madison’s 2015 book, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ she asked to move into the mansion after her first night sleeping with Hefner and other women as part of his ‘bedtime routine.’ She was 21 years old.
Madison starred in the E! show ‘The Girls Next Door’ alongside Hefner’s other main girlfriends at the time, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt. The show ran for 91 episodes from 2005 to 2010.
Part of the show’s storyline was the special relationship between Madison and Hefner, with Madison hinting at marriage many times.
Marquardt, who was a bridesmaid at Madison’s 2013 wedding to festival producer Pasquale Rotella, has corroborated some of Madison’s claims. Wilkinson did not agree to participate in the documentary and has previously stood by Hefner, according Yahoo! Entertainment.
Madison and Rotella have two children and divorced in 2019.
The new A&E docuseries lifts the lid on the ‘dark underbelly’ of the Playboy Mansion and founder Hugh Hefner, who died in 2017 at age 91
Hefner’s soon Cooper Hefner has come out against the new series, calling it a ‘case study of regret becoming revenge’
Madison says she never had casual sex before the first night she did with Hefner. ‘I feel like I was kind of really asexual, so maybe I just wasn’t ready for that,’ she said in the documentary
Madison calls Hefner ‘manipulative’ and described the atmosphere in the Playboy Mansion, above, as ‘cult-like’
When she first walked into the mansion two decades ago, she says she saw a ‘wholesome atmosphere’ and craved a sense of community. She ‘was able to buy into’ a relationship with Hefner because she ‘never connected’ with guys her own age.
The first night she slept with him was with a group of other women.
‘There was definitely, like, no romance or seduction or anything like that,’ Madison says of that night.
She noted that there was pornography playing on the screen.
‘The women were surrounding him.’
‘It was all very mechanical and robotic and you would kind of follow the other women’s lead. It was really gross to me how Hef didn’t want to use protection. The impact it had on me was so heavy. I never expected to be the first person to have sex that night or to be, like, pushed into it.’
In her book, she says that during the bedtime routine, ‘No one was actually in the mood (besides Hef, I assumed) or turned on in the slightest. Like the porn itself, it was all just for show.’
‘Much to my surprise, my turn was over just as quickly as it started,’ she adds.
‘I have never had a more disconnected experience. There was zero intimacy involved. No kissing, nothing. It was so brief that I can’t even recall what it felt like beyond having a heavy body on top of mine.’
Hefner, who launched the first edition of Playboy in 1953, had fashioned himself as a champion of freedom of sexuality and freedom of speech in a repressive post-war era
By the 1970s, Playboy had taken off and Hefner opened up dozens of Playboy clubs where members gained entry using a key. He is seen with an entourage of Playboy Bunnies in 1966
In the docuseries, Madison called Hefner ‘manipulative’ and described the atmosphere in the mansion as ‘cult-like.’
‘Secrets of Playboy’ director Alexandra Dean says she wasn’t surprised to hear Madison describe her situation.
‘By the time I heard that, I talked to a lot of former playmates who had said something similar. And what I realized about the Playboy women is more often than not, they came from some background where they felt some conflict with their sexuality or their beauty,’ Dean told Yahoo! Entertainment.
‘Some of [the women] had been in homes where they suffered abuse of some sort … or had a form of abuse before they came to Playboy. Or like Holly, had a childhood where they felt some sort of disassociate disorder so that when they came to Playboy they weren’t really equipped to defend themselves.’
She added that she doesn’t necessarily see Madison as a victim.
‘I find it’s a very passive word and humans aren’t generally passive or active. We’re a mix, right? And I think Holly is like the rest of us, a mix,’ she said.
‘I think Holly has a lot of agency in her life and she will be the first person to own that. But do I think that Playboy exploited her? Yeah, I do. Even though she definitely walked in, you know, in many ways with her eyes open, it’s still possible to exploit somebody in that situation.’
The new series delves into the hidden truths behind Playboy with exclusive interviews with insiders, including ex-girlfriend Sondra Theodore and former ‘Bunny Mother’ P.J. Masten.
Theodore, now 65, tells how she ‘watched girl after girl show up, fresh faced, adorable and their beauty just washed away’ due to the toxic environment at Playboy
Hefner pitted his girlfriends against each other and the plastic surgery was ‘compulsive’ as they tried to keep up with each other, Madison said
Theodore, now 65, reveals how there was group sex at the mansion five nights a week, which ‘broke me like you’d break a horse.’ The story was first reported exclusively on DailyMail.com.
She dated Hefner from 1976 to 1981 and said she was shocked when she saw a sex tape of herself because she didn’t know she was being filmed, according to The Sun.
Hefner would also allegedly host weekly ‘Pig Nights’ during which he would bring in a dozen ‘ugly’ prostitutes to have sex with his friends.
VIP members of the Playboy nightclubs could do as they pleased, including revered Soul Train host Don Cornelius who allegedly held two Playboy bunnies hostage and raped one of them, according to the docuseries.
Theodore said that Hefner invited high-profile journalists to the Playboy mansion ‘on purpose’ so he could record them.
She said: ‘They end up doing something they regret and he’s got it on them so down the road if anything’s going to come out negative he said ”I don’t think so.”’
The series also includes interviews with Linda Lovelace, the 1970s porn star who found fame with the film Deep Throat, who says she was treated like a ‘piece of meat’ and forced to perform oral sex on a German Shepherd while Hefner and his friends watched.
The documentary is a critical re-examination of the legacy of the iconic Playboy publisher, who died in 2017 aged 91.
Hefner was just 27 years old when he launched the first edition of Playboy magazine in 1953.
Featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover, the first issue sold more than 50,000 copies and spawned an empire which spanned decades.
By the 1970s, Playboy was selling seven million copies a month and Hefner opened up dozens of Playboy clubs where members gained entry using a key which literally opened the front door.
Hefner fashioned himself as a champion of freedom of sexuality and freedom of speech in a repressive post-war era.
But the backlash began in the 1970s with the feminist movement which decried his objectification of women.
In recent years, Playboy has struggled to stay relevant – the magazine stopped printing physical copies in 2020 – and many former Playmates have spoken out against the culture in the wake of the MeToo movement.
Former Playboy Bunny Mother PJ Masten speaks of the ‘depravity’ that took place at Playboy’s venues, recalling how porn star Lisa Lovelace was once drugged and forced to perform oral sex on a dog
The documentary is a critical reexamination of the legacy of iconic Playboy publisher, who died in 2017 aged 91
‘Secrets of Playboy’ is arguably the most damning portrayal so far and has extensive interviews with many of Hefner’s former close associates and Playboy Bunnies.
According to Miki Garcia, former director of Playmate promotions: ‘It was cult-like. The women had been groomed and led to believe they were part of this family. He (Hefner) really did believe he owned these women.
‘We had Playmates that overdosed, that committed suicide’.
One of the most disturbing accounts comes from Sondra Theodore, a former model and actress who dated Hefner in the late 1970s and ’80s.
According to the documentary, Hefner (left) had a stockpile of Quaaludes, the powerful sedative which Bill Cosby’s (right) accusers claimed he drugged them with, which he referred to as ‘leg spreaders’
She described how his sexual demands turned nasty and admits he ‘scared me at the end… you couldn’t satisfy him. He wanted more and more and more.’
‘The group sex was at least five nights a week. They had a protocol. He liked to direct and you didn’t segue away from it because you could tell it irritated him,’ she added.
Theodore said Hefner was a prolific drug user, sending her out to buy cocaine numerous times, and the sex ‘broke me like you’d break a horse’.
‘It just got ugly, I felt like I was a ringmaster, I had to put on the same show on every night,’ she said.
‘It was the same script: “Welcome to the family, we’re embracing you.” It was all a lie.
‘I watched girl after girl show up, fresh faced, adorable and their beauty just washed away. We were nothing to him…
‘… He was like a vampire. He sucked the life out of these girls for decades’.
Lisa Loving Barrett, Hefner’s executive assistant during the late 1970s and 80s, said that Hefner had a stockpile of Quaaludes, the powerful sedative that Bill Cosby’s accusers claimed he drugged them with.
Barrett said that at the Playboy mansion, the drug was known as the ‘leg spreaders’ and that they were regarded as a ‘necessary evil’ because they made women do anything.
Hefner would have his own prescription, as would Barrett and others who worked at the mansion, and Hefner would purportedly collect them all and keep them all in a drawer in his bedroom, ready to give to women he brought there.
Barrett claimed that Hefner would take small amounts of the amphetamine Dexedrine every day to keep himself alert.
Playboy addresses ‘allegations of abhorrent actions’ by Hefner in open letter ahead of docuseries
‘Dear Team, Partners & Community,
We want to reach out to you in light of the forthcoming A&E docuseries that we understand will recount allegations of abhorrent actions by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and others.
First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable.
As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy. Today, our organization is run by a workforce that is more than 80% female, and together we are building upon the aspects of our legacy that have made a positive impact, including serving as a platform for free expression and a convener of safe conversations on sex, inclusion and freedom. We will continue to confront any parts of our legacy that do not reflect our values today, and to build upon the progress we have made as we evolve as a company so we can drive positive change for you and our communities.
Please join us in doing the most important thing we can do right now — listen. It is critically important that we listen as these women share their stories and that we continue to fight harassment and discrimination in all its forms, support healing and education, redefine tired and sexist definitions of beauty and advocate for inclusivity across gender, sexuality, race, age, ability and zip codes.
We also recognize that these allegations are difficult to hear and that sexual violence affects victims everywhere. Help exists if you need it. We’ve ensured that our team has avenues for care and suggest the Sexual Assault Hotline or BetterHelp for anyone needing assistance.
Thank you for listening,
The PLBY Group Leadership Team’