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Secrets of Playboy: Shocking documentary claims Hugh Hefner demanded orgies and drugged women


Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was a ‘vampire’ who manipulated and drugged dozens of young women into taking part in degrading orgies, while masquerading as a champion of sexual freedom, according to a shocking new documentary.   

‘Secrets of Playboy’, a 10-part docuseries premiering on A&E on January 24, is set to lift the lid on the ‘dark underbelly’ of Playboy, which became a seedy playground for drug use, sexual abuse, and even bestiality. 

The series delves into the hidden truths behind Playboy with exclusive interviews with insiders, including Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriends Holly Madison and Sondra Theodore, as well as former ‘Bunny Mother’ PJ Masten. 

Theodore, now 65, reveals how there was group sex at the mansion five nights a week, which ‘broke me like you’d break a horse.’ 

Hefner would also host weekly ‘Pig Nights’ during which he would he would bring in a dozen ‘ugly’ prostitutes to have sex with his friends. 

New A&E docuseries, Secrets of Playboy, lifts the lid on the ‘dark underbelly’ of the Playboy Mansion and founder Hugh Hefner

Hefner, who launched the first edition of Playboy in 1953, had fashioned himself as a champion of freedom of sexuality and freedom of speech in a repressive post-war era

Hefner, who launched the first edition of Playboy in 1953, had fashioned himself as a champion of freedom of sexuality and freedom of speech in a repressive post-war era

The castle-like Playboy mansion and the Playboy clubs would eventually become seedy playground for drug use, sexual abuse, and even bestiality, according to the new docu-series

The castle-like Playboy mansion and the Playboy clubs would eventually become seedy playground for drug use, sexual abuse, and even bestiality, according to the new docu-series

VIP members of the Playboy nightclubs could do as they pleased, including revered Soul Train host Don Cornelius who allegedly held two Playboy bunnies hostage and raped one of them, according to the docuseries. 

Holly Madison, the Playboy bunny who dated Hefner for eight years, also tells how Hefner refused to use protection during sex and how the lifestyle at the house even led her to consider suicide.

The series also includes interviews with Linda Lovelace, the 1970s porn star who found fame with the film Deep Throat, who says she was treated like a ‘piece of meat’ and forced to perform oral sex on a German Shepherd while Hefner and his friends watched. 

The documentary is a critical reexamination of the legacy of iconic Playboy publisher, who died in 2017 aged 91.

Hefner was just 27 years old when he launched the first edition of Playboy magazine in 1953.

Featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover, the first issue sold more than 50,000 copies and spawned an empire which spanned decades.

By the 1970s Playboy was selling seven million copies a month and Hefner opened up dozens of Playboy clubs where members gained entry using a key which literally opened the front door. 

The documentary is a critical reexamination of the legacy of iconic Playboy publisher, who died in 2017 aged 91

The documentary is a critical reexamination of the legacy of iconic Playboy publisher, who died in 2017 aged 91

By the 1970s, Playboy had taken off and Hefner opened up dozens of Playboy clubs where members gained entry using a key. He is seen with an entourage of Playboy Bunnies in 1966

By the 1970s, Playboy had taken off and Hefner opened up dozens of Playboy clubs where members gained entry using a key. He is seen with an entourage of Playboy Bunnies in 1966

Former Playboy Bunny Mother PJ Masten speaks of the 'depravity' that took place at Playboy's venues, recalling how porn star Lisa Lovelace was once drugged and forced to perform oral sex on a dog

Former Playboy Bunny Mother PJ Masten speaks of the ‘depravity’ that took place at Playboy’s venues, recalling how porn star Lisa Lovelace was once drugged and forced to perform oral sex on a dog 

Hefner fashioned himself as a champion of freedom of sexuality and freedom of speech in a repressive post-war era.

But the backlash began in the 1970s with the feminist movement which decried his objectification of women.

In recent years Playboy has struggled to stay relevant – the magazine stopped printing physical copies in 2020 – and many former Playmates have spoken out against the culture in the wake of the MeToo movement.

‘Secrets of Playboy’ is arguably the most damning portrayal so far and has extensive interviews with many of Hefner’s former close associates and Playboy Bunnies.

According to Miki Garcia, former director of Playmate promotions: ‘It was cult-like. The women had been groomed and led to believe they were part of this family. He (Hefner) really did believe he owned these women.

‘We had Playmates that overdosed, that committed suicide’.

One of the most disturbing accounts comes from Sondra Theodore, a former model and actress who dated Hefner in the late 1970s and 80s.

She described how his sexual demands turned nasty and admits he ‘scared me at the end…you couldn’t satisfy him. He wanted more and more and more.’

‘The group sex was at least five nights a week. They had a protocol. He liked to direct and you didn’t segue away from it because you could tell it irritated him,’ she added. 

Theodore said Hefner was a prolific drug user, sending her out to buy cocaine numerous times, and the sex ‘broke me like you’d break a horse’.

The Playboy clubs were touted as a place where sophisticated men could be in the company of their peers while being served by beautiful women in bunny outfits

The Playboy clubs were touted as a place where sophisticated men could be in the company of their peers while being served by beautiful women in bunny outfits

A group of Playboy Bunnies line up for inspection by Hugh Hefner in 1966 at the Playboy Mansion in Chicago

A group of Playboy Bunnies line up for inspection by Hugh Hefner in 1966 at the Playboy Mansion in Chicago 

‘It just got ugly, I felt like I was a ringmaster, I had to put on the same show on every night,’ she said. 

‘It was the same script: “welcome to the family, we’re embracing you.” It was all a lie.

‘I watched girl after girl show up, fresh faced, adorable and their beauty just washed away. We were nothing to him…

‘…he was like a vampire. He sucked the life out of these girls for decades’.

Lisa Loving Barrett, Hefner’s executive assistant during the late 1970s and 80s, said that Hefner had a stockpile of Quaaludes, the powerful sedative which Bill Cosby’s accusers claimed he drugged them with.

Barrett said that at the Playboy mansion the drug was known as the ‘leg spreaders’ and that they were regarded as a ‘necessary evil’ because they made women do anything.

Hefner would have his own prescription, as would Barrett and others who worked at the mansion and Hefner would collect them all and keep them all in a drawer in his bedroom, ready to give to women who he brought there.

Barrett claimed that Hefner would take small amounts of the amphetamine Dexedrine every day to keep himself alert.

Cocaine was a ‘big deal’ in the house and there was a powder room off the great hall where underneath an ornate toilet paper holder there was a ‘pile of cocaine’.

The drug was so widely available that one of Hefner’s poodles became addicted to it and used to lick it off the floor, Theodore claims.

Mixed among the newly recorded interviews with Hefner's 'staff and inner circle' is never-before-seen footage from the Playboy mansion, as well as its respective properties across the globe

Mixed among the newly recorded interviews with Hefner’s ‘staff and inner circle’ is never-before-seen footage from the Playboy mansion, as well as its respective properties across the globe

The drugs helped fuel the horrifying ‘Pig Nights’ which happened every Thursday, according to Stefan Tetenbaum, Hefner’s valet between 1978 and 1981.

Hefner would instruct two pimps to bring half a dozen women each to the mansion from Sunset Strip, which at the time was notorious for prostitution.

Hefner thought the women were ‘pigs’ but ordered his VIP male friends not to call them that, the film claims.

A doctor would first examine the women for any diseases or infections before they could have sex with the guests.

Tetenbaum tells the documentary: ‘Sometimes he had a special woman who would come up, she was called The Bleeder.

‘She would use a very large syringe and draw blood from these different friends and a girl would come and perform fellatio or give them a hand job’.

The documentary claims that for some reason John Belushi, a regular guest at the Playboy mansion, loved this and it would ‘turn him on’.

Hefner had always had multiple girlfriends but by the 2000s he was going out numerous times a week with seven blondes who he said were all dating him at the same time.

Among them was Holly Madison who became his ‘special one’, or main girlfriend, and moved into the Playboy mansion aged 21 in 2000.

On her first night out with Hefner and his other girlfriends he offered her a Quaalude and said they were known as ‘thigh openers’ in the 1970s.

She declined but ended up having sex with him and the other girls that night. 

‘It was all very mechanical and robotic and you’d follow the other women’s lead. It was really gross to me how Hef didn’t want to use protection,’ Madison says in the film. 

Madison explains that Hefner ‘love bombed’ her in the beginning but over time ‘brainwashed’ her.

Playboy Bunny Holly Madison became Hefner's 'special one', or main girlfriend, and moved into the Playboy mansion aged 21 in 2000

Playboy Bunny Holly Madison became Hefner’s ‘special one’, or main girlfriend, and moved into the Playboy mansion aged 21 in 2000

Madison (pictured right in 2003) revealed how Hefner refused to use protection during sex and she eventually got caught up in 'cycle of gross things and I didn't know what to do'

Madison (pictured right in 2003) revealed how Hefner refused to use protection during sex and she eventually got caught up in ‘cycle of gross things and I didn’t know what to do’

Hefner pitted his girlfriends against each other and the plastic surgery was 'compulsive' as they tried to keep up with each other, Madison said

Hefner pitted his girlfriends against each other and the plastic surgery was ‘compulsive’ as they tried to keep up with each other, Madison said 

She had a 9pm curfew, was discouraged from leaving the Playboy mansion unless it was a family holiday and couldn’t wear red lipstick.

She also reveals how Hefner once flipped out when she cut her blonde hair short, saying it made her look ‘old, hard and cheap’.

Hefner pitted his girlfriends against each other and the plastic surgery was ‘compulsive’ as they tried to keep up with each other.

The lifestyle inside the mansion led her to get into a ‘cycle of gross things and I didn’t know what to do,’ she said. 

Madison admits that at one point she began feeling suicidal, but starring in the E! reality TV series The Girls Next Door gave her her self-esteem back.

‘I was afraid to leave. Something always lingering at the back of my mind since the very beginning,’ Madison said.

‘If I left there there was this mountain of revenge porn waiting to come out.

‘When you’d go out with Hef he was taking all kinds of naked pictures of these women when we’re wasted out of minds and he would print off eight copies, for him and all the women and pass them around. It was just gross.

‘I drank heavily every night we went out, it was my way of coping with the situation.

‘The drama between me and the other women became so bad. Imagine having sex with somebody in a room full of women who all hate you and are all talking s*** about you,’ she added. 

Another woman whose experience with Hefner became increasingly disturbing was Jennifer Saginor.

Sondra Theodore, a former model and actress who dated Hefner in the late 1970s and 80s, said Hefner was a prolific drug user, sending her out to buy cocaine numerous times, and the rampant sex 'broke me like you'd break a horse'

Sondra Theodore, a former model and actress who dated Hefner in the late 1970s and 80s, said Hefner was a prolific drug user, sending her out to buy cocaine numerous times, and the rampant sex ‘broke me like you’d break a horse’

Theodore, now 65, tells how she 'watched girl after girl show up, fresh faced, adorable and their beauty just washed away' due to the toxic environment at Playboy

Theodore, now 65, tells how she ‘watched girl after girl show up, fresh faced, adorable and their beauty just washed away’ due to the toxic environment at Playboy 

The daughter of Hefner’s personal doctor for 40 years, she started living at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles at the age of 11.

According to Saginor, Hefner regarded her as his ‘daughter’ but when she was 17 – still a minor – Hefner called her to his bedroom where she found him and a Playmate she had fallen in love with.

Suddenly the ‘energy shifted’ as Hefner tried to get them to all have sex.

Saginor said: ‘I was like, my dad’s down the hall. He said: “We’re all family here”.’

The Playmate, who Saginor calls ‘Kendall’, burst into tears and went into the bathroom, bringing an abrupt end to the encounter.

Years later when Saginor wrote a book about her childhood, she claims that Hefner asked her not to talk about that incident.

She claims that he got a slew of media interviews she was due to give canceled in apparent revenge for talking out.

According to the documentary, Hefner had a stockpile of Quaaludes, the powerful sedative which Bill Cosby's accusers claimed he drugged them with, which he referred to as 'leg spreaders'

According to the documentary, Hefner had a stockpile of Quaaludes, the powerful sedative which Bill Cosby’s accusers claimed he drugged them with, which he referred to as ‘leg spreaders’ 

Saginor says in the series: ‘I was always taught it was OK to speak your mind yet I knew that a certain level of loyalty went along with belonging in this inner circle.

‘There was some level of fear there would be repercussions for breaking that loyalty.’

Saginor said it was ‘so hypocritical’ given that freedom of speech and the First Amendment was something Hefner had advocated for his whole life.

The documentary also reveals how Hefner’s sexual interests sometimes verged into even more lurid territory, including one of his dogs.

‘I walked in once and he was’ [gestures with hand] ‘to our dog,’ Theodore said. 

‘I said what are you doing? He said dogs have needs. I said stop that! I never let him be alone with our dog again.’ 

A more disturbing incident happened with Linda Lovelace when she arrived at the Playboy Mansion and was forced into an orgy with Hefner’s male friends.

Former Playboy Bunny Mother PJ Masten said: ‘All the guys were laughing when she got out of the limousine. She was drunk and drugged.

‘All of a sudden out of nowhere a German Shepherd shows up. They got her so messed up they made her give the German shepherd oral sex. You want to talk about depravity? This is despicable!’

His former valet says Hefner lived his life at the mansion like he was a 'king' and didn't even want to know the names of his staff

His former valet says Hefner lived his life at the mansion like he was a ‘king’ and didn’t even want to know the names of his staff

Russell Miller, an author who wrote a critical book about Playboy which was published in 1985, said the sordid acts ‘exemplifies’ Hefner’s attitude towards women.

‘This is the dark underbelly of Playboy,’ Miller said. 

The Playboy clubs were touted as a place where sophisticated men could be in the company of their peers while being served by beautiful women in bunny outfits.

But under the veneer of glamor there was an ugly truth: the celebrities and VIPs who came to the clubs could get away with anything.

All of the clubs had a ‘cleanup crew’ which hushed up embarrassing incidents without involving the police.

Masten, the Bunny Mother, claims that the incident with Don Cornelius was the worst she ever heard of, and that Hefner ‘knew all about it’.

Cornelius was at one of the clubs when two sisters aged around 20 and 21 who had just started working there caught his eye and he invited them over.

Masten said: ‘Don had been in the club many times, many people saw him so they didn’t have any fear at the time.

‘These two young girls got in his Rolls Royce and went to his house. We didn’t hear from them for three days, we couldn’t figure out where they were.

Hefner had cameras in every room and even in the garden outside where there were hidden microphones

Hefner had cameras in every room and even in the garden outside where there were hidden microphones

Dark side: A&E will explore the darker sides of Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire in the forthcoming docuseries Secrets Of Playboy

Dark side: A&E will explore the darker sides of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire in the forthcoming docuseries Secrets Of Playboy

‘They were separated, one locked in one room, the other in another. They were tied up and bound.

‘The sister could hear her (other sister) screaming. There were wooden objects she was sodomized with and she could hear her other sister being brutalized. It was horrible.’

One of the girls managed to get out and make a call to her Bunny mother but the incident was never reported to the police. 

Masten said that Cornelius’s privileges were never even suspended – and he was back at the club the following week. 

According to former valet Tetenbaum, Hefner lived his life at the mansion like he was a ‘king’ and didn’t even want to know the names of his staff.

Hefner would drink around 40 Pepsis daily and ate 2lbs to 3lbs of M&Ms a day, he said. 

His ‘sexual apparatus’ such as dildos, nipple clips, whips and straps, were kept in the headboard behind his bed.

One of Tetenbaum’s jobs would be to put on gloves and collect all the sex toys after an orgy, put them in a special bucket and take them to the maids who would clean them off.

Hefner had cameras in every room and even in the garden outside where there were hidden microphones.

Jennifer Saginor, the daughter of Hefner's doctor, began living at the mansion at age 11. She recalls how Hefner regarded her as his 'daughter' but when she was 17 - still a minor - Hefner called her to his bedroom

Jennifer Saginor, the daughter of Hefner’s doctor, began living at the mansion at age 11. She recalls how Hefner regarded her as his ‘daughter’ but when she was 17 – still a minor – Hefner called her to his bedroom 

'Secrets of Playboy, a 10-part docuseries, will delve into the 'dark underbelly' of Playboy on A&E on January 24

‘Secrets of Playboy, a 10-part docuseries, will delve into the ‘dark underbelly’ of Playboy on A&E on January 24

Theodore said that Hefner invited high profile journalists to the Playboy mansion ‘on purpose’ so he could record them.

She said: ‘They end up doing something they regret and he’s got it on them so down the road if anything’s going to come out negative he said I don’t think so’.

According to Theodore, Hefner’s attitude towards women could have come from a disturbing source, Charles Manson, whose female followers lived on his ranch with him and were tried alongside him for murder.

Theodore tells the film: ‘When we started dating in the 1970s he (Hefner) was fascinated and obsessed with Charles Manson.

‘Couldn’t talk enough about him. How does this guy, these women who have been in jail for how many years and when they have a chance to get out they still adore him and will until the day they die. Hef liked that.’

According to Sharmagne Leland-St. John Sylbert, a former Playboy photographer, Hefner even had copies of the Manson family home videos.

She said they were ‘made before the murders, the girls with knives and guns at the ranch.’

Theodore said there were ‘so many similarities’ in the way Hefner used coercive control.

She said: ‘The way the girls followed everything he said, we were all a big happy family

‘He’d say if you could get along with everybody we could be together forever.’

Secrets of Playboy will air on A&E on January 24, 2022.  



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