While most people are familiar with the Playboy Mansion, many don't know what it was actually like to live in there. According to several Playmates, life in the Holmby Hills, California residence wasn't quite the paradise that it seemed to be.
Former Playmates, Kendra
In 2015, Madison published a tell-all memoir titled Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. She said that life in the Mansion was "miserable."
“It was a constant struggle,” Madison said. “I was trying to sell this image of ‘Oh everything is so great here,’ but I was miserable inside.”
As for Wilkinson, she opened up in her own 2011 memoir, Sliding into Home. Her account was quite different from Madison's but both memoirs painted quite a picture of life with the late Playboy founder.
Madison explained that there were out-of-control parties and behavior that created a "toxic" atmosphere.
“The climate inside the mansion was toxic. I didn’t participate in the cocaine benders, the side boyfriends or all their harebrained moneymaking schemes that were all in direct violation of Hef’s rules," Madison wrote. "I rarely left the mansion, so making it home in time for curfew was never an issue either.”
According to Wilkinson, the Playmates would often conspire against one another.
“Instead of me, Holly and Bridget wanted to bring in Audra, this girl who was looking to move into the mansion and become Hef’s girlfriend. She and I had issues – our personalities totally clashed – and she was trying desperately to take my place, and for some reason Holly and Bridget were on her side," Wilkinson wrote.
"They all had a pact that they were going to stick together and get rid of me. I don’t know why; I hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m tough, and I would never in a million years have let them know it, but it hurt my feelings.”
Madison, 37, explained that it was expected for Hefner's multiple girlfriends to have sex with him.
“Vicky [another one of Hef’s girlfriends] was eager to bring as many girls up into the bedroom as possible. I could guess her reasoning: the more options Hef had, the less likely she’d be called to duty," Madison wrote.
"It seemed to me that she made it her mission to lure every new Playmate up to the bedroom to pay their dues. In those first few years, I would say the majority of the Playmates eventually selected had found their way into Hef’s bedroom. I guess Vicky figured that if she had to sleep with Hef, they should all have to sleep with him.”
As for Wilkinson, 32, she explained that she would often drink or smoke marijuana before spending the night with Hefner.
“I had to be very drunk or smoke lots of weed to survive those nights – there was no way around it," she wrote.
Madison and Wilkinson were both featured in the Playboy reality TV show, The Girls Next Door. The two explained that there was a competitive nature about the show and how it was primarily Hefner's gig.
“We were constantly reminded that the show was Hef‘s show – our contributions were irrelevant. We were the decorative icing, not the cake. According to our boyfriend, he could have splashed any three blondes on-screen and found instant success," Madison wrote.
Wilkinson explained that the show tried to mold her personality and pigeonhole her into a certain public image.
“The crazy thing about television is that you are rarely allowed to grow. You are molded into a character based on some of your strongest traits, and you are forced to stay that way for your entire television life," Wilkinson wrote.
Madison explained that Hefner ran a tight ship and that he was quick to criticize their appearance.
“That’s how disagreements always ended with Hef; he would just stomp off, and you were left to pick the pieces of your self-worth up off the floor," Madison wrote.
"I’d invested every part of myself in the mansion and had nothing waiting for me outside those gates. I felt so trapped and so vulnerable to his criticisms.”
Wilkinson had a drastically different opinion of Hefner. She characterized him as a "sweet man."
“Staring into his eyes, I didn’t see a man four times my age with ten times more girlfriends than most. Even though I hardly knew him yet, I saw a sweet man who made me feel really good about myself – a true gentleman. It was weird, but in my heart, I felt like he was someone I could possibly trust," Wilkinson wrote.
The Playmates were expected to have a specific image that fit Hefner's preferences, according to Madison. She opened up about one particular issue in which he criticized her for wearing "red lipstick."
“‘Don’t ever wear red lipstick again,’ [Hefner] warned me in a low voice and turned toward the door He paused and turned back around to survey my reaction," Madison wrote. "Deciding he hadn’t done enough damage, he served me one final blow before storming out of the room: ‘You look old, hard and cheap.'”
Wilkinson had a similar experience with Hefner in which he told her she needed to "go to the gym."
“One night, we were all in the limo on the way to a book signing with Hef when he pulled me aside. ‘Is everything okay?’ he asked. ‘I feel fat, Hef,’ I told him. ‘Everyone is so pretty. It’s making me really insecure.’ ‘Well, you look a little bigger,’ he said honestly. ‘Maybe you can go to the gym,'" Wilkinson said.
"When we got home, I went to my room and cried myself to sleep. I was disappointed in myself. I had this whole mansion and a great life to enjoy, and all I was doing was lying around and eating. I felt so lazy and miserable. This was supposed to be paradise, but for me, it wasn’t."