Why Holly Madison Almost Turned Down Hosting The Playboy Murders

Though Holly Madison was initially wary about exploring crime stories tied to the infamous mansion on ID's The Playboy Murders, the former bunny tells E! News what made her willing to revisit her

By Tierney Bricker Jan 23, 2023 8:00 PMTags
Watch: Why Holly Madison Almost Passed on The Playboy Murders

Holly Madison is ready to go down the rabbit hole again.

ID's The Playboy Murders is the latest series to examine the dark corners of the Playboy Mansion. And each of the six episodes exploring murders and mysteries that intersect with the men's magazine are hosted and executive produced by Madison, a former Playboy bunny who lived at the mansion for seven years.

But when the Girls Next Door star was initially approached about taking part in The Playboy Murders, she almost turned it down. 

"I was like, 'Oh no, I have too much on my plate as it is. I can't do another Playboy thing,'' Madison told E! News in an exclusive interview. "But then they sent me a presentation on the cases they wanted to cover and as I looked through it, I thought, 'Wow this is a show I would actually love to watch myself, even if I wasn't involved.'"

Secrets of Playboy Bombshells

While Madison had publicly detailed her "cult-like" experience at the famed residence in the explosive 2022 A&E docuseries Secrets of Playboy, she admitted that she wasn't familiar with some of the cases that are explored in The Playboy Murders.

Denise Truscello/WireImage

"I thought I knew it all about Playboy history and what happened to all the playmates, and I really didn't," the 43-year-old explained. "There was even one story where a playmate's husband was murdered because a crazed fan had gained access to her location through a 1-900 number they used to have the playmates working back in the '90s. I had no idea that was ever a thing that Playboy had playmates do."

Each of the six stories being "so different" from her own was what "intrigued" Madison most about the show, she noted: "I could relate to these women just because of our backgrounds. I really wanted to be a part of it." 

The Girls Next Door: Then and Now

And providing a platform for women to share their own accounts was a priority for Madison, who said she's been called a liar "for so many years" after first detailing her experience and relationship with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in her 2015 memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole.

"People will be surprised at how much they can relate to the victims," Madison said. "That's really what I want people to take away. I hope that we did the victims' justice and I hope people can walk away knowing them better as people."

Denise Truscello/WireImage

While she said it was "a relief" to "have other people come out with stories that corroborated" her own when she participated in the A&E docuseries last year, Madison said the experience of hearing what they went through was difficult.

"When I watched all of the episodes I wasn't in, I would have a nightmare every night after I watched one," she shared, "because it was just all this crazy horrible stuff."

Madison admitted that she still struggles to cope with her experience at the mansion, but said that her podcast—Girls Next Level, which she co-hosts with her former Girls Next Door co-star Bridget Marquardt—has "been great because it's allowed me to reclaim the good memories as well and also work through the tough ones."

And Madison credited her relationship with Marquardt for changing the "vibe" among the women she once lived with at the mansion.

Joey Foley/FilmMagic

"We have the type of friendship where we have never gotten into a fight, we've always been super open with each other," Madison shared. "Doing the podcast, I've been really pleasantly surprised by how open she is about everything. She's open to talking about any subject no matter how painful or potentially off the wall the topic might be."

In the rewatch series, Madison and Marquardt interview former Playmates about their personal experience, though they've yet to sit down with fellow Girls Next Door alum Kendra Wilkinson.

"We've always said she's perfectly welcome to come on if there's anything she wants to clear up or anything she want's to talk about," Madison said of inviting the Kendra on Top star. "I know she doesn't like talking about Playboy stuff and I respect that, too."

Despite the negative experiences she had during her time as a bunny, Madison, who is mom to 9-year-old daughter Rainbow, said she "doesn't really have any regrets, because I feel like we all come into this lifetime with challenges and things we need to learn. I loved the way my life has turned out now, I really wouldn't change anything."

That being said, she added, "I wouldn't necessarily want to go relive it."

The Playboy Murders airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ID and streams on Discovery+.

—reporting by Adam Havener

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