Drugs, Rape and Abuse: The Dark Side of the Playboy Mansion Documentary

Jenniffer Saginor was just 11 years old when she moved into the famous Playboy mansion. That would have been natural, since she was the daughter of Hefner’s personal physician, then a mogul in the brand’s empire. Unlike the other dozen women who roamed the house, Saginor was viewed as a daughter of sorts. Until it ceased to be.

She was only 17 when Hefner called her into her room one day. Inside, Saginor, now 51, found the Playboy owner in bed next to a Playmate Hefner knew Saginor was in love with.

The young woman revealed she felt “the energy shift” when Hefner tried to convince her to have sex with him. Saginor refused, warning that his father would be right down the hall. “We’re all family here,” Hefner replied. The meeting ended abruptly and never happened again, but more than thirty years later, the woman who grew up in the most famous mansion in the world decided to tell her story.

This is just one of many testimonies from women who have passed through the hands of Hugh Hefner – who died in 2017 at the age of 91 – who have now decided to unravel the darkest secrets of the Playboy mansion. In Secrets of Playboy, the new A&E documentary miniseries, Hefner is portrayed as a dangerous man who has exploited his status to abuse and rape dozens of women over decades. Kind of a luxury pimp who dominated the Playmates and used them to deliver orgies for his VIP friends.

Over three episodes, the series interviews former Hefner workers as well as several of the mogul’s Playmates and ex-girlfriends. And they all paint a somber scene from the heyday of Playboy.

Right in the villa, the pig night took place every Thursday, the “pig night”. The revelation comes from Stefan Tetenbaum, who was the villa’s car valet between the ’70s and ’80s.

On those nights, the guests were prostitutes congregated on the streets of Los Angeles; an operation run by local pimps at the behest of Hefner. They would be the stars of the orgies hosted by some of Hefner’s no-risk friends.

Each of the prostitutes was examined by a doctor before the party to rule out sexually transmitted diseases. Hefner, who treated prostitutes like “pigs,” left only one recommendation to his VIP guests: don’t treat them like that.

Worse treatment was given to the Playmates, the bunnies who lived in the mansion in an atmosphere of terror for decades. According to several witnesses, Hefner acted as if he owned each of the women who fed the almost daily orgies that took place at the mansion. And when they made the task more difficult, they were regularly treated with tranquilizers commonly known as “leg spreaders,” of the type commonly used in rape cases.

“It was kind of a cult. These women were educated and made to believe they were part of this family, when in fact Hefner believed he owned them,” explains Miki Garcia, former Playboy sales executive. More shocking are the testimonies of those who experienced the parties and daily life at the villa in the first person.

Orgies were compulsory and no one dared say no. “There were at least five nights a week. They had a protocol. [O Hugh] he loved directing and everyone followed his instructions because we knew he’d be upset if that didn’t happen,” reveals Sondra Theodore, a former model who was involved with Hefner in the ’70s.

Theodore regularly saw the arrival of new women who quickly entered Hefner’s Machiavellian scheme. “I saw them arrive, one after the other, young-faced, adorable, and their beauty was fading fast. We were nothing to him. He was like a vampire. It sucked the life out of those girls for decades.”

It wasn’t just women who were inundated with drugs. Hefner himself remained active on a daily dose of amphetamines, according to Lisa Loving Barrett, one of his assistants, who testifies on the miniseries. But all of them, without exception, took cocaine. It was so easy and so readily available that there was a small makeup room where everyone knew there was a “pile of cocaine.”

Also witnessing these “robot” orgies was Holly Madison, Hefner’s old friend who moved into the mansion in 2000 when she was just 21. He was offered a sedative the very first night, which he declined but ended up engaging in an orgy.

“It was all very mechanical and robotic. I just copied what the others did. It was disgusting that Hef never wanted to protect himself,” he reveals. According to Madison, Hefner encouraged competition among the Playmates, motivated them to have cosmetic surgery, and kept them under a veiled threat.

He turned to alcohol to survive, but even considered suicide. Leaving the house was not on the table. “I was afraid to leave the house, even though I wanted to from the beginning,” he says. “If I left, I would have a mountain of revenge porn waiting to be released.”

Hefner used the moments when women were most vulnerable and unconscious to photograph them. The recordings were then used in various forms of blackmail. “When you went out with him, he would always photograph unconscious, naked women. Then he printed eight copies, which he and all the women passed from hand to hand. It was disgusting,” he says.

This pressure caused many Playmates to fall into deep depressions and resort to alcohol and drugs. “We’ve even had Playmates who overdose and some who have committed suicide,” reveals Miki Garcia.

It wasn’t just the occupants of the house who suffered, Hefner had a habit of inviting important journalists to visit the house only to catch them in precarious situations, Theodore reveals. “They ended up doing something they regretted and he had proof for later if he had to and something negative came out of it. [para a Playboy], he could warn them that this would not happen.”

The miniseries also reveals two absolutely shocking moments. One of them concerned Linda Lovelace, the famous porn actress from “Deep Throat”, who arrived at the villa already completely drunk and on drugs.

Once at the mansion and involved in an orgy with Hefner’s closest friends, the unthinkable happened. “All of a sudden, a German shepherd shows up,” says former rabbit matriarch PJ Masten. “They managed to confuse her so much that she ended up having oral sex with the dog. Do you want to talk about depravity? It was disgusting.”

The unthinkable also happened outside of the mansion, in the various playboy clubs Hefner opened around the country. Sold as nifty bars for members, they were just an extension of what was happening in the main house – and where there were even teams always ready to clean up and hide any confusion caused by the various VIPs running the rooms frequented.

One such incident involved Don Cornelius, the famous host of the show Soul Train, who died in 2012 bringing two rabbits into his home one night. There they stayed, held in separate rooms and disappeared for three days. The two sisters, aged 20 and 21, were reportedly gagged and raped during this time.

“The nurse could hear the other screaming. There were wooden objects that she was sodomized with, she could hear the other sister being brutalized. It was awful,” Masten revealed. The case was never reported to the police, although they believe Hefner was aware of the case. Cornelius was never suspended – and a week later he was back in the clubs.

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