For six seasons, the reality series The Girls Next Door gave viewers a look inside life at the Playboy Mansion, particularly the lives of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner‘s three girlfriends at the time. Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson lived at the mansion, and the series showed fans their unconventional day-to-day lives. But, in the time since the show ended in 2010, the women have shared more details about living in the mansion and being with Hef that was not shown on TV. Now, in a new docuseries, Madison shares one particular moment with Hefner that touches on the darker side of life at Playboy. Read on to see what she had to say.
Living at the Playboy Mansion meant that the girlfriends were surrounded by other women, who were all similar in appearance: white, blonde, and thin. “I got to a point not too far into my time there—I think I was only like six months in—where I kind of broke under that pressure and being made to feel like I needed to look exactly like everybody else,” Madison says in a preview for Secrets of Playboy, which will premiere on A&E Jan. 24.
“My hair was really long naturally, and I was just like, I’m going to go chop my hair off so I can at least look a little different,” Madison continued. “I came back with short hair and he flipped out on me. And he was screaming at me and said it made me look old, hard, and cheap.”
Jonathan Baker, who is listed as a “Hefner’s friend” in the docuseries says, “I remember when she cut her hair. He was very unhappy about it. Yup, his world.”
Marquardt, who is also featured in the docuseries, explains in the preview that Hefner had these types of strong reactions frequently, especially when it came to Madison.
“Hef would be pretty abrasive in the way he said things to Holly,” Marquardt says. “She came down with red lipstick one time and he flipped out, said he hated red lipstick on girls, and take it off right away, although other people could wear red lipstick and it didn’t seem to bother him. It was very frustrating to live with every day. All of the drama that was going on and the tensions. I could definitely see that she was getting depressed and sad and her demeanor was starting to change.”
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During her time living in the Playboy Mansion, Madison was considered Hefner’s “main” girlfriend. She’s said in the past that, at the time, she really felt like she really did have strong feelings for him.
“I started to feel like I was in love with him in a very like, looking back on it, I feel like it was a very Stockholm syndrome type of thing, where I just felt like I identified with him and he was complimenting me so much in the beginning,” Madison said on the Call Her Daddy podcast in April. “And I just started to, in my mind, blame all the other problems on the other women. Like, ‘Oh, this is a miserable situation, but if these other women weren’t here, it wouldn’t be like that.'” Madison also said the mansion had a “very cult-like atmosphere.”
In the same podcast interview, Madison shared that, eventually, she decided to leave the mansion. This was, in part, because she wanted to have children and get married, but also because she started having a clearer view of her relationship with Hefner.
“He started lashing out at me more for really stupid things and I just realized, like, I can’t be here, like, this guy is an a**hole,” she explained. “But even still, I felt guilty leaving. It took time, it took me being interested in another man before I finally was like, ‘I have to pull the plug because I’m not gonna cheat.’ It just goes along with all the love-bombing stuff and the ‘we’re gonna be together forever, and we’re gonna be together the rest of my life’ and blah, blah, blah. He would compare me to Belle in Beauty and Beast, like, I just came along to this castle.”
While a woman being screamed at because she cut her hair is already upsetting, the Secrets of Playboy includes some other disturbing claims, as well. For instance, in another preview, Sondra Theodore, an ex of Hefner’s and Playboy Playmate in the ’70s and early ’80s talks about women being plied with substances. “Hef pretended that he wasn’t involved in any hard drug use at the mansion, but that was just a lie,” she says. “Quaaludes down the line were used for sex.”
Lisa Loving Barrett, who worked as an executive assistant in the Playboy Mansion throughout the ’80s, explained that the drugs were known as “leg-spreaders” and that the mansion obtained them by getting prescriptions in multiple people’s names. “They were a necessary evil, if you will, to the partying,” she said.