Former Bunny reveals late Playboy founder's 'control tactics' for cult-like Playboy mansion


Back in 2015, Holly Madison blew the lid off life inside the famed Playboy mansion when she released her book “Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.” The memoir painted Hugh Hefner in a bad light, alleging he pitted women against each other and manipulated them.

In a new interview, Holly details another of Hef’s alleged “control tactics” that kept his women looking “barely legal.”

Keep reading for more that the former “The Girls Next Door” star shared about her famous ex…

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Holly Madison claims that Hugh Hefner “hated” when Playboy Playmates wore red lipstick, but she didn’t know this until several months into her relationship with him, which began in 2001 when she was 21 years old. 

“I think it was a control tactic, but also, when I was brand new, I wore red lipstick out a couple of times, and he didn’t say anything about it because when you were the new girl in the group, you were always treated well,” she said on the “Ahead of the Curve with Coco Mocoe” podcast. “Somebody said, like, the higher up you are in a cult, the worse you’re treated because they want the new people to want to bond and feel into it.”

“So I would wear red lipstick when I was new,” she added. “It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a big deal until, like, six months into it, when I was living in his bedroom, and I was the main girlfriend, then he felt like he had the leeway to yell at me over it.”

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Holly Madison went on to explain why Hugh Hefner hated red lipstick so much…

“I think he didn’t love it because when he invented the concept of a Playmate in the ’50s, he wanted the women to look very young and fresh-faced because he felt like the look in the ’50s at the time was very… He described it as ‘somebody’s older sister,'” Holly said. “It was very more sophisticated, fashion model, red lipstick. It was a lot of fabric and big skirts and everything, and he hated that.” 

Hef, Holly said, “wanted skimpy and fresh-faced and very young looking.”

“So I think that’s where his hatred of red lipstick came from [because] to him, that was an older, mature woman, and it wasn’t, like, the barely-legal thing anymore,” she added.

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The podcast chat isn’t the first time Holly Madison has spoken out against Hugh Hefner, whom she romanced for seven years. In her 2015 book, Holly claimed the Playboy founder offered her drugs the first time they met..

“‘Would you like a Quaalude?’ Hef asked, leaning toward me with a bunch of large horse pills in his hands, held together by a crumpled tissue,” she wrote.

“Hef did not miss a beat: ‘Okay, that’s good,’ he said, nonchalantly. ‘Usually, I don’t approve of drugs, but you know, in the ’70s they used to call these pills thigh-openers,'” she claimed he told her. 

She said he was manipulative, pitted women against each other and even tried to buy her off in his will: “It was there, in black and white,” she wrote. “The will stated that $3,000,000 would be bestowed to Holly Madison at the time of his death (provided I still lived in the Mansion).”

Hef, who passed in 2017, denied nearly everything Holly wrote and called her memoir a book of fiction.


Holly Madison isn’t the only woman who’s spoken out again Hugh Hefner this year. His widow, Crystal Harris Hefner, also recently shared a less-than-flattering glimpse into life with the Playboy magnate, and she’ll unveil even more in her 2024 book “Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy And Finding Myself.”

Crystal went through hours of therapy and “deprogramming” to untangle her life as Hugh’s wife, she told the New York Post. Crystal, who married the magazine founder in 2012 at age 26, said the mansion was “toxic.” 

“After going through a lot of therapy and healing, I realized that I needed to be honest about my time there. The book is about healing from a toxic environment,” she said. 

Crystal often felt that she was in a coercive relationship in which the publishing giant was dependent on her. “Towards the end of his life, I felt like I couldn’t leave him. I had to take care of him,” Crystal said. “It was like, ‘OK, he adores me and he needs me, and he leans on me for so many different reasons and I can’t leave him.’ So I was there till the very end.”

Years later, she looks at things differently: “I’m only now just kind of learning what it means to be in a healthy relationship,” she said.


Crystal Harris Hefner recalled to that the Playboy legend — whom she’s painted as, as the outlet put it, “a misogynist, a narcissist and a co-dependent, controlling presence in her life” — insisted she follow his rules down to what kind of nail polish she could wear: pink, pale and sheer, never matte. She was also required to be home so they could share his dinner — which was always chicken soup with cream cheese and crackers — and watch movies with him. 

Then after dark, she explained, it was expected that she would participate in the group intimate encounters Hef loved.

“It was embarrassing. I don’t know the most people there’d been in our bedroom at one time but — a lot. Pretty bad,” she said. “[The other women and I] were like, ‘Oh, now it’s your turn.’ Nobody really wanted to be there but I think in Hef’s mind, he still thought he was in his 40s, and those nights, the people, the mansion, solidified that idea. He felt, ‘I’ve still got it.'”

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