In a new teaser for the A&E documentary series Secrets of Playboy, Holly Madison gets candid about the dark side of living with Hugh Hefner, comparing the Playboy Mansion to a “cult.”
“The reason I think the mansion was very cult-like, looking back on it, is because we were all kind of gaslit and expected to think of Hef as, like, this really good guy,” the model and reality TV star says in the teaser. “And you start to feel like, ‘Oh, he’s not what they say in the media, he’s just a nice man.’”
Madison dated Hefner from 2001 to 2008 and starred in the E! reality series The Girls Next Door with Hef’s other girlfriends at the time, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson. The show presented a romanticized version of life in the mansion, pushing a narrative of Hef helping three (much younger) women achieve their dreams of making it in Hollywood.
According to Madison’s account in the trailer, however, the reality could not have been further from a dream; she details restrictive rules meant to cut the women off from their lives outside the mansion.
“Another thing that reminds me of a cult was that it was so easy to get isolated from the outside world there,” she explains. “You had a 9 o’clock curfew. You were encouraged to not have friends over. You weren’t really allowed to leave unless it was like a family holiday.”
Part of that isolation included the late Playboy founder forcing Madison to quit her waitressing job, which she cherished as her one connection to the outside world and a reason to leave the house once a week. He was jealous, he told her, and offered her a weekly allowance of $1,000 instead.
The trailer also features an old interview clip with a group of Playmates explaining that they were not allowed to have other boyfriends, and they each had designated nights to report to the master bedroom to have sex with Hefner.
“The sex always happened kind of like the same time, the same night,” Madison says. “We would go out to a club every Wednesday and Friday, and that would be expected when we got home.”
Secrets of Playboy, a 10-part series, premieres on Monday, Jan. 24.