Hugh Hefner might be gone but his legacy at the Playboy Mansion will live on forever. The Mansion became the envy of practically every teenage boy in America during the 1970s thanks to rumors of his parties and photos of his memorable Playmates. Unfortunately for those boys, the only way they’d ever see the inside of the Mansion was if they were Hugh Hefner themselves, or Weezer on the “Buddy Holly” video set.
Hef might have been having the time of his life, but life in the Mansion wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for a lot of former Playmates. Read on to learn about the dark history and ongoing scandals that came from the Hef and the Mansion.
It Was Just Plain Dirty
We’re talking about actual dirt. Multiple former Playmates have spoken out and said that the Mansion was not up to code cleanliness-wise, but that they were still forced to live there.
Not only did the house smell terrible, but the mattresses were reportedly never cleaned. Some girls would even replace their bedding with their own cash.
Hefner Controlled The Girls With Money
Izabella St. James explained that every Friday morning, the girlfriends had to go up to Hef’s room and “ask for our allowance.” Apparently, everyone hated the process because he would use the time to bring up things he wasn’t happy about.
St. James even went so far as to say that Hefner used the money “as a weapon.”
There Were Rules About EVERYTHING
The idea that the Playboy Mansion was practically a prison comes from all the strict rules. There’s a general code of conduct, but it even includes rules about Instagram and Twitter.
The Playmates are supposed to show Playboy in a good light. They can’t even post photos where they look the slightest bit drunk.
The Curfew Was Tight
Every evening there was a 9 p.m. curfew. The only exceptions for the women living at the Mansion were if they had an event with Hefner or if there was a party.
That curfew wasn’t just about being inside by 9 — you weren’t allowed to have friends over at all either.
It Feels Like A Jail
Holly Madison famously revealed that the metal gate at the entryway to the Mansion was less about keeping people out, and more about keeping the ladies in. She said during her time there she felt locked in like a “jail.”
Madison even had a constant security staff watching her every move.
Many Girls Turned To Substance Abuse
The girlfriends hated their daily duties to please Hefner so much that many turned to drugs and alcohol to disassociate themselves.
Holly Madison, Hefner’s girlfriend number one for nearly seven years, said that she turned to marijuana and alcohol to drown herself and “escape the ridiculous life” she was living.
There Are Rumors Of Underground Tunnels
One longstanding rumor of the Playboy Mansion was that it had underground tunnels that connected directly to the homes of other famous guests.
Kirk Douglas, Jack Nicholson, and James Caan were all rumored to have these connecting tunnels. Before he died, Hugh Hefner officially stated that the tunnels don’t exist but we might never truly know.
Many Of The Women Became Severely Depressed
Thanks to the strict rules and jail-like vibes given off at the Mansion, many of the girlfriends who live there quickly feel isolated and depressed.
Even Holly Madison says that she quickly became depressed, but because choosing to move into the Manson is “such a bold choice”, admitting you’re depressed is admitting that you “made a really dumb decision.”
There Were Dog Droppings Everywhere
And we’re not just talking about on the lawn. Hefner didn’t seem to care about dirty carpets and rarely cleaned them. Things got even worse when girlfriend number one Holly Madison moved into his room and brought her two dog.
The dogs would poop everywhere and the droppings would only get cleaned up once a week. Ew.
Towards The End, It Was More “Saga Than Swinger”
In the final years of Hefner’s life, the Playmates and girlfriends were really just for show because he was so frail.
British twins Carla and Melissa Howe revealed that the girls were more likely to be invited to play a gentle game of tennis with Hef than go up to his bedroom.
Girlfriends Are Different Than Playmates
It’s important to know that there is a real difference between your average Playmate and being a girlfriend. Hefner would have up to 24 “girlfriends” at a time and those are the ones who live in the mansion.
Girlfriends get their own (dirty) rooms and a weekly allowance, but only girlfriend number one gets to stay in Hefner’s room.
The Weeks Followed The Exact Same Schedule
Hefner followed the same weekly routine for his entire time at the Mansion. There was Fun-In-The-Sun Sundays, followed by Manly-Night Mondays and Family-Night Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Fridays were club night and Saturdays meant a buffet dinner and screening of an old movie.
The only day the girls had off was Thursdays but the strict curfew and other rules still applied.
Most Girls Had A Side-Boyfriend
By all accounts, a relationship with Hefner wasn’t exactly fulfilling (emotionally or physically). Every girlfriend but Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt had a side boyfriend…or three.
The problem was Hefner had a strict “no boys” rule. Talk about double standards. Many girls ended up leaving the Mansion because of the rule.
The Mansion Has A Fireworks Permit
In fact, the Playboy Mansion is the only private residence in all of Los Angeles that has a permanent fireworks permit.
With that privilege, they know that they have to do it big. The 4th of July fireworks show that happens yearly is a huge hit and people gather for miles to see it.
A Cardboard Cutout Will Often Make An Appearance
If there is a dinner party or a gathering happening and Hefner can’t be there, the girls had to make sure a life-size cardboard cutout of him is standing in the corner.
It might have been harmless, but it probably added to the creepy “always watching” vibe the Mansion gave off.
One Playmate Was Murdered
Dorothy Stratten had the charm, looks, and ambition to make it big in Hollywood, and getting her start as a Playmate would be her big break.
Unfortunately for Dorothy, her husband Paul didn’t agree. He shot and killed her in 1980, the same year she was named Playmate of the Year.
These Are Some Notable Celebrities Banned From The Mansion
Not every high-profile celebrity is welcomed at the Mansion. Luke Wilson was banned in 2006 after he tried to sneak a friend in. Former NFL running back Reggie Bush was mysteriously banned for a “conduct violation.”
Legendary Beatle John Lennon was even banned in the 1970s but not for conduct. He apparently put out his cigarette on a priceless Matisse painting he didn’t like.
The Girls Gossiped Right Beside Hefner
Life in Hefner’s bedroom wasn’t exactly pleasant for most of the girlfriends, but they managed to bide their time. They knew Hefner couldn’t see well or hear much out of one ear.
The girlfriends would make a silhouette like something was going on but they would just gossip and make fun of Hefner on the side he couldn’t hear.
A Legendary Elvis Room Exists
The Mansion isn’t as big as you think, but there is allegedly a secret room Hefner has kept away from everyone. It’s the room that Elvis Presley and eight eager bunnies stayed in on his only visit to the Mansion.
People have asked to see the room for years but Hefner always refused.
Kendra Wilkinson Was The Least-Liked Girlfriend
Even though Hefner tried to start drama, a lot of the girlfriends knew they were each other’s only hopes. They all got along quite well except for Wilkinson. She was apparently “spoiled, arrogant, and volatile.”
Holly Madison hated her but admitted she couldn’t blame Wilkinson for being upset about being a 19-year-old stuck with a 78-year-old boyfriend and stricter rules than when she lived at home.
Substance Abuse Was Overwhelming In The 1970s
One ex-butler for Hefner revealed that in the ’70s, the biggest problem plaguing the Mansion was the Playmates drug abuse. The girls were allegedly heavily addicted to hard drugs like cocaine.
Hefner knew about this but did nothing to help them. The number of drug-related arrests at the Mansion back then was overwhelmingly high.
Hefner Was Worse Than Mean Girls
Holly Madison described Hef as the “ultimate mean girl.” According to her, he was basically “a spoiled kid trapped in the body of an old man.”
He actively enjoyed pitting the girlfriends against each other and loved to watch all the drama unfold. Regina George might have met her match.
The Food Was Divine
One of the few perks of living at the mansion was that the kitchen cooks were ordered to make the girlfriends whatever food they wanted 24 hours a day.
That policy even extended to some guests. Apparently, Jack Nicholson would call and order food from the Mansion’s kitchen, come and pick it up, and leave without saying a word.
The Mansion Wasn’t The First Playboy Compound
The first issue of Playboy was released in 1953. Six years after that, Hefner finally had the funds to purchase his first Mansion in Chicago.
The Chicago Mansion was the place to be until 1971 when Hefner purchased empty land in Los Angeles for $1 million and built the mansion we know today.
The Mansion Is A Private Zoo
Hugh Hefner made sure to make the Mansion into one of the few Los Angeles residences with a private zoo. Hefner was a huge fan of birds and you could walk around the Mansion and see peacocks, macaws, flamingos, and toucans.
The Mansion also had a special sanctuary with more than 100 squirrel monkeys.
There’s A Creepy Pet Cemetary On Site
The Playboy Mansion has a zoo license and many of the girlfriends owned dogs, but sadly, they can’t live forever. Hefner liked to honor the families on site, so he set up a proper pet cemetery.
All of Hefner’s dogs, quite a few monkeys, and more than fifty birds are buried on the grounds.
Hefner Was Arrested In 1963
In 1963, while Hefner was still in the Chicago mansion, Playboy published a feature of Jayne Mansfield. The photos were deemed to be too vulgar for the public and the police even went so far as to arrest him.
The case went to trial but the jury was hung and Hugh got off without any consequences.
A Wedding Called Off
After Hefner’s top three high-profile girlfriends left him in 2009, Crystal Harris moved in to the Mansion to become Hefner’s number one.
They were set to marry in 2011 but Harris got cold feet. They reconciled in 2012, got married, and Harris became Hefner’s third and final wife.
Hefner Allegedly Knew About Bill Cosby’s Ways
Playmate Chloe Gains joined other women in 2015 in speaking out against Bill Cosby. She claimed that Cosby assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.
What makes things even worse is that Gains also claims that Hefner knew about it and had been allowing Cosby to take advantage of the women at the Mansion for years.
The Party Guest List Isn’t So Exclusive Anymore
Back at the height of Hefner’s notoriety, the guest list to his parties was personal invite only. If you managed to find an invitation to a big party, it would cost thousands of dollars.
Towards the end of his life, the parties became less and less elite. Rather than being filled with celebrities, they were filled with lowlifes and the tickets were relatively cheap.