It turns out all that glitters isn't gold.
Former Playboy bunny Holly Madison appears in the upcoming A&E docuseries Secrets of Playboy, sharing her account of what it was really like to live in the famed residence alongside the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
"The reason I think the mansion was very cult-like looking back on it is because we were all kind of gaslit and expected to think of Hef as like this really good guy," Holly explains in a sneak peek. "And you started to feel like, 'Oh, he's not what they say in the media, he's just a nice man.'"
Despite being a house packed with people, she often felt alone. "Another thing that reminds me of a cult is how easy it is to get so isolated from the outside world there," she says. "You had a 9 o'clock curfew. You were encouraged to not have friends over. You weren't really allowed to leave unless it was like a family holiday."
And their sex lives were supposedly just as regimented, with Holly claiming that she would have sex with Hugh at "the same time on the same night."
"We would go out to the same club every Wednesday and Friday," Holly, who was in a relationship with Hugh from 2001 to 2008, recalls, "and that would be expected when we got home."
The Down the Rabbit Hole author adds that she originally kept her waitressing job so that she had "something easy to go back to" if her Playboy career didn't work out. And even though she only worked one day a week, Holly claims, "[Hugh] said it made him jealous, and he would appreciate it if I quit my job. So instead, we were given $1,000 a week as an allowance."
Playboy responded to Holly's video in a statement to E! News. "Today's Playboy is not Hugh Hefner's Playboy," it read. "We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those 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."
The statement went on, "The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences. We will never be afraid to confront the parts of our legacy as a company that do not reflect our values today. As an organization with a more than 80% female workforce, we are committed to our ongoing evolution as a company and to driving positive change for our communities."
In a previous statement, the magazine said in part, "After nearly 70 years in business, there are many elements of Playboy's long history of which we are immensely proud, and there are elements we find unworthy of our principles. Today, we strive to live up to the positive aspects of our legacy, and are proud of the work we have done in recent years to stand for freedom and equality while advancing our mission of pleasure for all. The Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy."
The A&E docuseries, premiering Jan. 24, will also feature interviews with Hugh's personal valet Stefan Tetenbaum, Playboy Mansion West resident Jennifer Saginor, former "Bunny Mother" PJ Masten, former Director of Playmate Promotions Miki Garcia and other past girlfriends of Hefner's, including Bridget Marquardt and Sondra Theodore.
"I tricked myself into thinking I had feelings for Hef," she wrote in her 2015 memoir, "He had this gentlemanly veneer, he was intelligent, and I loved watching old movies with him. I focused on the positive things, not the negative."
Though Hugh accused her of lying to make herself look better—"I've had more than my fair share of romantic relationships with wonderful women," he told E! in a statement at the time. "Sadly, there are a few who have chosen to rewrite history in an attempt to stay in the spotlight"—Holly said it was important to share her side of the story with the world.
"I would get so many people coming up to me saying, 'Don't you miss the mansion?' or 'I'm sorry Hef didn't marry you' and I'd see everything that was written about me and people think they know me just because the know one side of me from the TV show," she told E!. "I just didn't think overall it was a very good message for women because the best part of my life has been the seven years since I've left the mansion."
Secrets of Playboy documentary event series premieres Monday, Jan. 24 on A&E.
This article was updated on Jan. 20, 2022, at 6:55 p.m. to add Playboy's statement.