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Former playmate and “Girls Next Door” reality star Holly Madison says the conditions in the Playboy mansion were “cult-like” when she lived there.
Madison, 42, is featured prominently in the second episode of the A&E docuseries “Secrets of Playboy," airing now. Madison, who starred in “The Girls Next Door” alongside Hefner for five seasons discussed what it was like living in the mansion as one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends in the early aughts.
"The reason I think the mansion was very cult-like is because we were all kind of gaslit and expected to think of Hef as like this really good guy,” Madison says in the episode, according to People.
In December, she detailed how she got swept into Hefner’s world in an episode of the “Power: Hugh Hefner” podcast. In it, she had claimed that Hefner would routinely ply women around him with quaaludes and pit them against one another. She said that women who lived at the mansion with Hefner as a girlfriend were barred from having an apartment of their own.
She touched on how separated she felt from the outside world in “Secrets of Playboy.”
"Another thing that reminds me of a cult is how it was so easy to get isolated from the outside world there,” she says in the docuseries. “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."
Madison said that Hefner also pushed her to quit her job, further isolating her.
Furthermore, “Secrets of Playboy” director Alexandra Dean claims that Hefner was obsessed with Charles Manson, leader of the infamous Manson Family cult. The group, made up of mostly female followers, was responsible for several grisly murders in California in 1969. They brutally killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate along with four of her friends a day before viciously killing a grocery store executive and his wife.
"At first I didn't know about the cult word, you know, I was a little skeptical. But I kept hearing it from different women over the decades so I knew I had to take it seriously," Dean told Yahoo Entertainment. "And then I put something in Episode 2 to kind of explain to you why I did take it so seriously and include it and that's the fascination Hef had with Charles Manson ... it was very profound and multiple people told me about it."
The director said that Hefner had been “close” with Tate.
“So it's really weird that he held up Charles Manson on this sort of pedestal and was studying him because Manson had just killed his friend," Dean said. "It was really bizarre and chilling."
Madison compared her love for the former Playboy head, who died at 91 in 2017, to Stockholm syndrome.
“So Stockholm syndrome is when somebody starts to identify with somebody who's their captor in some way and I feel like I did that with Hef 100 percent,” she said, according to People.
Before the release of “Secrets of Playboy,” Playboy released an open letter that called the alleged actions by Hefner and others “abhorrent.”
“First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences,” the letter states. “As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable.”
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