Time to go back down the rabbit hole…
Holly Madison has opened up before about her time in the Playboy mansion, notably in her hit memoir Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. It was so juicy they’re even making a limited series biopic about it!
So any time she’s willing to spill more tea, we are all bunny ears. And in a visit this week to the Call Her Daddy podcast, that’s just what was on the menu.
The Peep Show creator talked about what’s become of her relationships with fellow Playboy models, revealed what made exes Hugh Hefner and Criss Angel so similar, and of course gave us an even better look into what it meant to achieve the dream of so many naive young girls — and how it was more of a nightmare.
The Girls Next Door Today
One thing a lot of fans might be most curious about is Holly’s relationship with the OTHER two girlfriends from her time with Hef — Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt. Drama among the three wasn’t exactly a secret — after all it was the basis of a reality show that ran on E! for five years!
But is she still in touch with her Girls Next Door co-stars? She answered very specifically:
“Bridget and I have always been close. We’ve always been friends since day one. She is [the sweetest].”
Awww, that’s nice to hear! We actually kind of figured she’d tried to put that entire scene behind her, including Bridget. To hear they’re still good warms the heart.
But obviously the hosts had to ask if she also has any kind of relationship with Kendra, to which Holly replied matter-of-factly:
Fair enough! LOLz!
But let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back to where it all started… the bedroom.
The First Night
Holly described that first hookup in her book, but this was another take on it. In this case she talked about how the single decision to let this man hit it emotionally locked her in for SEVEN YEARS!
She remembered feeling the pressure to go all the way all of a sudden, saying:
“Everybody would go upstairs and basically everybody would have s*x and I didn’t know what to expect. I think I had the feeling that, this is my first night out, maybe I won’t be expected to do anything my first night. But then when I got up there, I was so wasted and thrown into it, that once it was done, there was something about the experience that made me feel very out of control.”
“For me, I’m already in this desperate situation and I’d already thought living at the mansion would be a solution to my problems. I think I felt if I were just to leave that night and never come back, I would have felt really used and really chewed up and spit out.”
So it sounds like she felt like she had already been exploited at that point — so she may as well get the benefit?
Another Playmate recently came forward saying Hefner didn’t really sleep with all the girls, but Holly flat-out denies that. In fact, she made it clear anyone who stayed in the Mansion DEFINITELY had to put out for the privilege:
“I had to sleep with him first. I’m not trying to slut shame anybody or anything but nobody ever got asked to move in unless they had slept with him.”
Unfortunately, moving in didn’t end up being everything she’d hoped for either…
Falling For It
Holly says she didn’t really have the vocabulary for it at the time, or even years later when she wrote her book, but she recognizes now that Hef’s M.O. to get women into a relationship was all the “love bombing” and sweetness up front that are “are super cliche of groomers” these days.
But to that 21-year-old girl, him telling her she was “really special” worked.
However, she didn’t get the number one girlfriend role because of how special she was. She says the other girls “pushed” her into it.
“Nobody wanted it. At first I was flattered by it… I felt like I was really special. Meanwhile, everybody else had been there long enough to know what the deal was.”
The deal was having to move into Hef’s room — which meant an even tighter leash, a smaller cage. But it wasn’t just Hef she had to worry about — his mind games, playing the girls off of one another, meant she had to watch her back from both sides:
“Then everybody turned on me not long after because Hef realized he could use my good behavior as a comparison for the other girls. Why can’t you just behave like Holly does? Then they hated me. They were like, let’s get this bitch out of here.”
In fact, she recalls the women always being at each other’s throats; instead of outnumbering the man for power, they were just struggling against one another constantly:
“It was really cutthroat, nobody got along, everybody tried to snitch on the other… Nobody really wants to help anybody out. Everybody wants a centerfold or more money.”
She says it was “horrendous” her first few years there. And it only got worse…
‘Boring Basic S*x’
OK, obviously everyone wants to know what s*x with Hef was like. We mean, he was a legend, he was with countless beautiful women for years, surely he must have been an A+ lover, right?
Actually, no, at least not according to Holly.
She’s spilled before, in her memoir, about the TVs playing porn while the women pretended to be interested in one another. But there’s more to it than that.
First there were the Quaaludes, which Holly says she watched Hef hand out like candy to women “for years”. He infamously referred to them as “thigh openers.” So classy. While Holly didn’t partake of the harder drugs, she did say she numbed herself with alcohol and can’t “remember a time in the bedroom I wasn’t wasted.” In fact, she says, she was always “too messed up” to orgasm with Hef. Not that he put in the work.
No, Holly says Hef would NEVER “pleasure” the women, if you get her meaning, and in fact would just lay back and let them do the work. As she describes it, in the end, for all the pomp and circumstance, it wasn’t even that kinky — just “boring basic s*x.”
She does think in retrospect the septuagenarian’s “obsession with young women was semi-gross” — especially when paired with the fact he had a “fixation” on how they were groomed. Specifically:
“He would get mad if somebody wasn’t shaved.”
What about the penis? The Hef penis? Sorry to disappoint, but Holly says it “was just like, normal.” Boo! So boring indeed!
Babies With Hef?
Holly told the crew how grateful she was that she never got pregnant — which she is sure was because of his advanced age — he was 75 when they met.
“I knew it was because of him. I was healthy. He was just too old. Thank god.”
But for a while she did try. Why? She had committed herself to Hef, and she was following through:
“I thought this is my last stop, if I want to have kids, I’m going to try. I was like, okay, if I’m not going to have kids here, this is something I need to think about. This is like a death sentence.”
She’s thankful that frame of mind — which kept her a kept woman for years — didn’t ultimately result in pregnancy though, or else it would have been even more permanent:
“When I had first gotten into that situation and something happened in my mind that first night I had sex where I felt like, ‘Ok I did that. I like breached my own boundaries and I wasn’t comfortable with it. Now I have to make this situation into something.’ I almost locked myself into this box in a way.”
Life At The Mansion
That box was little more than a cage lined with pink, plushy pillows. Holly described what a nightmare it actually was being there. “Pets” may have been the other mag’s thing, but that’s definitely how Hef treated the girls, according to Holly:
“I’ve seen people come in 5 minutes after 9pm curfew and get dressed down by him.”
Curfew?! Yep. Like they were teenagers, and he was their parent. So gross. But that didn’t stop all these young women from going out and sowing their wild oats.
Holly revealed when she first moved in, there were six other women living there, including her predecessor as Hef’s number one girl, Tina Jordan. Multiple of those women, as it turned out, were “dating other people on the side” — and when he found out, Hef got “super jealous.”
Holly says she personally witnessed the lying as one girl (she wouldn’t say who) told Hef she was going to visit family when she was “really f**king Kid Rock or something.” KID ROCK?! How mortifying! For everyone involved, really…
We guess it was after that debacle that he started cracking down even more. Holly confirmed Hef was insanely jealous and controlling. Not only did the girls have a curfew, even Hef was “very selective about how he curated his friend crew” so as not to give them any temptation to sleep with the other men who visited. Holly revealed his strategy was never to have younger guys around:
“He was always really careful about having other older men around.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t all jealousy.
Holly also described Hef as being a cruel partner, if you could even call him that. She actually got suicidal at times while living with him and took antidepressants for years. That combined with the alcohol, and Holly says she actually got so numb her “brain felt slower” after a while.
“I think it was part of being nervous, partly doubting myself, partly being in this environment where I was always drinking and my mind was never stimulated. I was kind of always in fear of getting sabotaged by other women, getting kicked out, him yelling at me or embarrassing me in front of other people.”
Gross. Holly can see it on her own face when looking at herself on TV, too:
“When I look back at Girls Next Door, especially the first few seasons, I see myself just coping. I was really stiff and not open and just like a robot and saying the type of things I felt Hef would want me to say and things that made him look good. I can’t really don’t regret that because I don’t know how else I would have coped. Now, I’m more myself and more open. I couldn’t have said what I was really saying or feeling, it would have been cut. I was super guarded and super nervous about putting my private life out into the public.”
Why She Finally Left
Holly says she knew she wasn’t happy for some time. But that didn’t mean just cutting and running — she’s not that kind of gal:
“I made a commitment to be with him and we talked about being together for the rest of his life. I felt a little guilty about leaving.”
However, the kids thing was a major dealbreaker, even more powerful than his hold over her:
“But when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to have kids with him, that was a big thing … and my depression was coming back and he would go and ask Bridget why I was depressed and he wouldn’t ask me. It was just really weird.”
But it was around the time the other girls were leaving that things got the worst:
“As everybody was leaving, I started to realize it’s just me and Hef, he started lashing out at me more. I don’t know if he was just stressed … I know things weren’t so great financially for him, maybe he had some stress, or didn’t have the games of pitting the three of us against each other anymore. He started lashing out for really stupid things and I just realized I can’t be here.”
Yep. After all those years it finally hit her:
“This guy is an a**hole, I can’t stay here.”
But there was one other big factor in driving her to leave Hefner. She didn’t want to become a cheater — but there was a guy out there she just couldn’t get out of her mind… freak.
Mindfreak. It’s Criss Angel. You get it.
If you thought the Hugh Hefner relationship was bad, at least Holly will say his name out loud. She’ll only refer to her magician ex as “He Who Will Not Be Named”! LOLz!
She told the Call Her Daddy crew:
“When I left the mansion, I got sucked into another relationship that was really bad.”
She says Angel got hold of her the same way Hef did:
“I was so ready mentally to be independent, but it was another love bombing relationship and I just fell into that.”
Thankfully it was soon enough that she was able to recognize the patterns — and make sure she didn’t get stuck for another seven years!
“I was given another relationship of the Hef relationship just with a younger person and without the culty-type situation around it… I really feel like that was really sent to me by the universe to be this final dot on the I, to be like, okay you need to never be in a relationship like this again”
Thankfully it sounds like Holly learned what she needed to. And hey, that’s what your 20s are for, right?
What has surprised YOU the most about Holly’s memories of her time at the Playboy Mansion?? You can listen to the full convo HERE.
[Image via Chris Connor/Rachel Worth/WENN.]