Holly Madison is looking back on her years spent at Hugh Hefner’s notorious Playboy Mansion in A&E’s forthcoming docuseries Secrets of Playboy.
Madison, now 41, moved into the Playboy Mansion back in August 2001, when she was 21 years old. She reportedly began dating Hefner that same year, when he was age 75.
However, the two eventually split in 2008, with Madison going on to describe the relationship as “very Stockholm syndrome” over a decade later.
Hefner — who passed away in 2017 at 91 — notoriously engaged in multiple sexual relationships with the young women at the mansion, with the woman branded as his “main girlfriend” changing constantly.
Much like his sexual encounters with the other young Playmates, Hefner’s relationship with Madison has received harsh scrutiny due to the 54-year age gap and controversial power dynamic — something that the new docuseries is set to examine through a modern lens.
In one of the first teasers, Madison recounted a time Hefner screamed at her when she made a change to her appearance while living at the mansion.
“I got to a point not too far into my time there… where I kind of broke under that pressure and being made to feel like I needed to look exactly like everybody else,” Madison said.
In a bid to look slightly different and somewhat separate herself from the other Playmates, Madison said she decided to get a haircut.
“My hair was really long naturally, and I was just like, ‘I’m gonna go chop my hair off so I can at least look a little different,’” she explained.
However, Madison claimed that her short hair was quickly and fiercely criticized by Hefner, who wasn’t thrilled with the new look.
“I came back with short hair and [Hefner] flipped out on me,” Madison said.
“He was screaming at me and said it made me look old, hard, and cheap,” she recalled.
Hefner’s friend, Jonathan Baker, also claimed that the Playboy founder was “very unhappy” about Madison’s haircut. Meanwhile, one of Hefner’s other ex-girlfriends, Bridget Marquardt, further weighed in on how he could be “pretty abrasive” in the way he spoke to Madison.
“[Madison] came down with red lipstick one time and he flipped out and said he hated red lipstick on girls [and to] take it off right away, even though other people could wear red lipstick and it didn’t seem to bother him,” Marquardt said.
“I could definitely see that [Madison] was getting depressed and sad and her demeanor was starting to change,” she added.
Madison previously opened up about the decline of her mental health while living in the mansion in her 2015 memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole.
In the emotional book, Madison recalls feeling cut off from other Playmates and the world outside of the mansion after she was forced to quit her waitressing job by Hefner. Madison also claims that the Playboy founder — who would regularly criticize her appearance — refused to let her see a therapist after she began feeling depressed, which led to her contemplating suicide.
Elsewhere in the Secrets of Playboy teaser, Madison recalled feeling stuck in a “cycle of gross things” during her time at the mansion.
“I remember there were times probably within the first couple years I lived there when I felt like I was just in this cycle of gross things and I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
And in a different clip, another one of Hefner’s ex-girlfriends and former Playmates, Sondra Theodore, further opened up about the realities of life at the mansion, claiming that there was “hard drug use.”
“[Hefner] pretended he wasn’t involved in any hard drug use at the mansion, but that was just a lie,” Theodore claimed, adding that Quaaludes were “used for sex.”
Quaaludes, otherwise known as methaqualone, are sedative-hypnotic drugs that induce drowsiness and sleep. They were made illegal in the US in the 1980s.
“Usually you just took a half,” Theodore said, seemingly detailing her and the other Playmates’ experiences with the drugs. “If you took two, you’d pass out.”
“It was such a seduction, and the men knew this — that they could get girls to do just about anything they wanted if they gave them a Quaalude,” she claimed.
Madison opened up about the alleged use of Quaaludes in her memoir, claiming that the Playmates were given the drugs and encouraged to take part in regular orgies with Hefner while under the influence.
Madison claims that Hefner offered her a Quaalude on her first night out with the Playboy cohort, writing that he told her: “Usually I don't approve of drugs, but you know, in the ’70s they used to call these pills ‘thigh openers.’”
Though Madison says she refused the drugs, she notes that some of the women had taken them. “They weren't commonly available then — I don't even know exactly how he was getting them. I know most girls my age were not doing them, and didn't know what they made you feel like. And I'm sure a lot of those girls didn't know what they were at all,” she said.