A&E has just released its first trailer for their new documentary series, Secrets Of Playboy, which takes a critical look at what was happening behind the camera and closed doors. They pull back the curtain of decadence, free love and celebrity that defined the ‘Playboy’ magazine founder, who built his empire on male desire and those desired. The ten episode docu-series will premiere in early 2022.
“The fantasy world of ‘Playboy’ has been shrouded in secrecy for decades and we are proud to lift the veil on these long-hidden stories,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming for A&E in a statement. “Breaking down barriers and exposing the truth, Secrets of Playboy is a masterful example of brave storytelling that takes an unflinching look at the personal effects of Hugh Hefner’s empire, while also exploring his legacy’s larger influence on our society and modern-day views of sexuality.”
The series will feature archival footage and exclusive interviews with insiders including past girlfriends of Hefner’s including Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Sondra Theodore, Director of Playmate Promotions Miki Garcia, Hefner’s personal valet Stefan Tetenbaum, Bunny Mother PJ Masten and Playboy Mansion West resident Jennifer Saginor.
The revelation that such a documentary was indeed in the works came from Carla Howe, a former Playboy bunny herself. “The show is being filmed at the moment. Producers are speaking to girls who lived in the mansion.” Howe revealed that she had been a confidante to many women who had told her some unsavory tales of Hefner, though she did clarify to say that she had never been a victim to such untoward and unseemly behavior herself. “I never had any bad experiences with him but there are a couple of girls who did,” she said. “Some girls are coming out and saying bad things about him. I’ve heard bad stories. I’ve heard they take turns with him. They’d all be in a little room together.”
She continued: “It would be eight at a time. A lot went on. Luckily, that never happened to me. When I lived there, he was already married so I think I was the lucky one,” adding that, according to her, Hefner always knew that some of these so-called ‘dirty secrets’ would come to light some day.
Holly Madison, known for her participation in the Playboy Mansion reality show The Girl’s Next Door and one of Hefner’s ex-girlfriends, pulled no punches in her memoir ‘Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.’ Her claims of abuse and manipulation were widely publicized. “I learned Hef was the manipulator and that he pitted us against one another,” she noted. “I realized I wasn’t treated well. I’m done being afraid of people. I don’t have any loyalty to Hef. I haven’t talked to him in four years, so there’s no reason to reach out now. Besides, it’s the truth.”
Hefner’s response to Madison’s memoir reads, “Over the course of my life I’ve had more than my fair share of romantic relationships with wonderful women. Many moved on to live happy, healthy, and productive lives and I’m pleased to say remain dear friends today. Sadly, there are a few who have chosen to rewrite history in an attempt to stay in the spotlight. I guess, as the old saying goes: You can’t win ’em all!”
There have been many films and TV shows dedicated to Hugh Hefner’s legacy prior to his death, and most of them celebrate his decades-long ruling of an industry, and building a bridge to the mainstream where other similar publications were shunned. We’ve seen the photos of the celebrities who dipped a toe in the grotto. Tune in to see the story through the lens of the people who lived in Hefner’s universe. Secrets Of Playboy can be seen on A&E in 2022.