Holly Madison reflected on her years with Hugh Hefner.
The former Playboy Bunny has spoken out on A&E’s 10-part docuseries titled “Secrets of Playboy.” It features new interviews with many of the Playboy founder’s staff and inner circle, as well as former girlfriends.
The 42-year-old dated the magazine’s publisher from 2001 to 2008 and was considered his No. 1 girlfriend at one point.
Most recently, the star appeared on the conversational series “Between Two Salads” where she described the “really weird” experience of filming “The Girls Next Door,” the E! reality series that went inside the Playboy Mansion.
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“It was really weird and probably not what it would be for anyone else, because I had no control over the situation,” Madison explained. “And I was already living in this situation which was very much like a cult.”
“It kind of became this miserable experience, but one that I felt like I was kind of stuck in,” she shared. “I was like, ‘I can’t leave until I build my life on the outside, because I’ve seen so many women leave and go to these dark places.'”
Madison said she was “scared to leave” the mansion. And despite the show’s popularity, Madison claimed they weren’t compensated properly.
“They didn’t pay us for the first half of the season,” she alleged. “They just thought we were going to do it for free because we were there. They really treated us like kids. Like we were just Hef’s kids and expected to work because we were a family or something.”
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Madison also described how much she envies the Kardashians, who portrayed their family on their hit reality series for the same network. This show aired from 2006 to 2021. “The Girls Next Door” aired from 2005 to 2009.
“That’s something I really envy about the Kardashians,” Madison said. “They experience [reality TV] with their family. I got to experience it with a best friend, which was cool, someone I had a lot of tension with and a guy who didn’t treat me very well.”
Madison also described Hefner’s preference for younger Playmates.
“At the Playboy Mansion, I used to see all the memos coming in when they were reviewing candidates for Playmates, and they would always say, ‘She’s 28,’ if they thought someone had [too old]“, she alleged.
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“Like, 28 was the mark of death,” Madison continued. “Once in a while they had a playmate older than that, but that was pretty rare. And if someone was 28, they always noted it down. I wonder how much that affected me, spending my early 20s hearing, ‘Your kind of done by 28.'”
Bridget Marquardt, one of Hefner’s ex-girlfriends who also starred in “The Girls Next Door,” corroborated some of Madison’s claims in “Secrets of Playboy.” Their co-star Kendra Wilkinson was noticeably absent from the docuseries. A spokesperson for the 36-year-old told Fox News she would not comment. It should be noted that Wilkinson supported Hefner and even publicly clashed with Madison.
In response to the docuseries, a Playboy spokesperson released a statement to Fox News.
“Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy,” the statement began. “We trust and validate these women and their stories and strongly support those who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand focused on sex positivity, we believe that safety, security and accountability are paramount. “
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“The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences,” he continued. “We will never be afraid to confront the parts of our heritage as a company that do not reflect our values today.”
“As an organization with more than 80% women in its workforce, we are committed to continuing our evolution as a company and driving positive change for our communities,” the statement concluded.
Hefner’s son, Cooper, also caught on Twitter to defend his late father.
“Some may not approve of the life my dad chose, but my dad was no liar,” the 30-something tweeted. “Although unconventional, he was sincere in his approach and lived honestly. He was generous in nature and cared deeply about people. These dirty stories are a case study where regret becomes revenge.
Hefner died in 2017 at the age of 91.