Tuesday 23 January 2018

Playboy's Holly Madison: One happy bunny she definitely was not

Holly Madison with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in 2008
Holly Madison with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in 2008
Former ‘Playboy’ bunny and girlfriend to Hugh Hefner Holly Madison in a Roberto Cavalli-designed ‘Playboy’ bunny costume in 2008

Olaf Tyaransen

Oh boy! They say that revenge is a dish best served published so it's intriguing to hear that former Playboy Mansion house pet Holly Madison has written a tell-all memoir about her time living - and copulating - with Hugh Hefner at that internationally infamous Beverly Hills address.

Now a married mother of one, the 35-year-old alleges that Hef was so emotionally abusive to her that she contemplated suicide.

Unsurprisingly, her octogenarian ex is reportedly less than pleased. A source close to the 89-year-old publisher told Hollywood Life that Holly "enjoyed all the perks that came with being Hef's girlfriend and living at the mansion, including all the fame it gave her."

Not having yet read Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, I have no idea whether or not Holly mentions the afternoon she encountered me there in 2007. I'm pretty sure she hasn't. She was less than impressed when I failed to recognise her. In fact, if laser-eyed looks could kill, I wouldn't be here writing this. I'd be a small black burn-stain on the wall of the mansion's screening room.

Rewind to a few days before that meeting. I was shivering on top of a snowcapped mountain in the Swiss Alps doing a photoshoot with singer-songwriter Josh Ritter when I got the text message from my editor: "Hef says yes!" My celebratory whoop probably caused an avalanche.

We'd written to the Playboy founder months earlier requesting an interview. One of his people guardedly responded with a request to see some samples of my writing. Having duly obliged, I'd heard absolutely nothing back. Which rather kicked my ego in the nuts.

I should've realised that such decisions take much longer when coming from a man who rarely gets out of his silk pyjamas. Anyway, Hef was apparently willing to meet me either five days hence or three months later. Fearful of missing the opportunity, I opted for the more immediate date.

The next few days were a blur. I flew home from Switzerland, swiftly wrote up the Ritter interview, and packed a bag for LA. This quick turnaround left limited time for research. Although aware of it, I'd never actually watched a full episode of the hit reality-TV series The Girls of the Playboy Mansion. Having only been granted a scant 30 minutes for the interview, I hadn't planned on asking much about it.

I was fairly discombobulated when I finally arrived at the gates of that massive 30-roomed, Gothic-style castle, situated on a beautifully manicured 5.7-acre estate in the most expensive part of Beverly Hills.

Having given me a guided tour of the place (the zoo, aviary, forest, tennis courts, pool, koi pond, Viagra warehouse, etc), an assistant brought me into the house and led me to the screening room for the interview. There was a beautiful young blonde, wearing a skimpy top and tiny white hot pants, working on a computer in the corner.

"Oh, hello there," I said to her, in as suave a manner as I could muster.

"I'm Olaf. I've just flown from Ireland to interview Mr. Hefner."

I walked over, extended my hand, and said the five worst words possible: "And who might you be?"

Had I gleefully pinched her breasts and said, "Wow - are those real?" it would have been infinitely better. She shot me look of such pure unadulterated filth that even Larry Flynt wouldn't have published a picture of it.

It took me a while to realise why she was so upset, by which time it was far too late to make amends. I'd seriously insulted her.

There she was, a gorgeous 27-year-old blonde, living the American dream by publicly gold-digging in the bed of a man old enough to be her grandfather. A fully signed-up member of Hef's harem, she had willingly traded her body, soul and reputation for fame, fortune and bling . . . and now this asshole Irish journalist didn't even recognise her!

Some quotes from Holly's memoir have been widely republished. Here's what she had to say about her first night under Hef's roof. "It was clear that there was certain things expected of you. It was clear that there was a definite routine going on, and it was very bizarre. It definitely wasn't what I expected it to be, it was a lot scarier. I was offered prescription drugs."

She didn't much enjoy her first night under Hef's ceiling mirror, either, which started with her being given pink flannel pyjamas to wear.

"Two huge television screens projecting graphic porn lit up the otherwise dark bed. In the middle, a very pale man was tending to his own business and puffing on a joint before passing it around to the nearest blonde. The girlfriends, in various stages of undress, were sitting in a semicircle at the edge of the bed - some kneeling, some standing, some lying down."

Apparently encouraged by the man himself, the competition between the girls for Hef's attention was incredibly intense. But Holly Madison had outfoxed - or out-titted - all of Hefner's other playthings to become his "number one girlfriend" and a bona fide international celebrity in her own right. Supposedly.

She sat on the couch beside Hef and glared icily at me throughout the interview. Other than a hissed "bye" at the end, she didn't speak another word to me.

For the record, my interview was fine but really nothing extraordinary. Every time I asked him a difficult question, he pretended he couldn't hear it.

I hadn't been allowed bring a photographer, as they had told me they had their own. When Hef arrived, the house snapper was in tow. Almost before we'd shaken hands, he put his arm around my shoulder and posed for a couple of shots. "There you go," he said to me, laughing. "Proof!"

A week or so later, when I requested the photos, I was told they hadn't come out. This seeming unlikely, I'd always assumed it was because, with Hef being much shorter than me, I had failed to squat down to his level.

It's only now that I realise that Holly Madison was also in those photos. And she most definitely wasn't smiling.

Sunday Independent

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