Why Holly Madison Compares Living In The Playboy Mansion To A 'Cult'

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Before Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died at 91 in 2017 at his home at the Playboy Mansion, the controversial pop culture fixture portrayed himself as someone who'd age with sophistication — often seen wearing silk clothing and engaging with his magazine's models. But former girlfriend Holly Madison ultimately saw him in a very different light.

Per CBS News, Hefner's Playboy Mansion, which was sold in 2016 for $100 million, was a 22,000-square foot property in Holmby Hills that hosted many lavish parties to keep the magazine relevant and recurring in the minds of people. Of course, Hefner was also known for his several girlfriends, all of whom lived with him at the mansion. His relationship with three of these women — Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt — was portrayed in E! 's reality series "The Girls Next Door." Madison, who was his "main girlfriend" at the time, stated her desire to marry him and start a family, according to E! Online. But when Hefner denied the request for the third time, and Madison decided to split with him in 2008.

Madison has been quite vocal about her relationship with Hefner and the experience of living at the Playboy Mansion. In 2021, Madison described her first sexual encounter with Hefner as "traumatic," and now in an upcoming documentary, she's shedding more light on her life at the Playboy Mansion. 

Holly Madison said Hugh Hefner kept a 'curfew' at the Playboy mansion

In a clip from the upcoming A&E docuseries "Secrets of Playboy," Holly Madison shared more disturbing details about her experience living at the Mansion in the early 2000s. "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 Hefner as, like, this really good guy," the "Vegas Diaries" author said. "You started to feel like, 'Oh, he's not what they say in the media — he's just a nice man.'"

Madison added, "Another thing that reminds me of a cult is how it was so easy to get isolated from the outside world there. 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." According to Page Six, Madison lived at the mansion for seven years, and she claimed that Hefner made her quit her waitressing job when she lived there — in exchange for a $1,000 per month allowance. "He said it made him jealous, and he would appreciate it if I quit my job," she said.

In December 2021, Madison revealed on the "Power: Hugh Hefner" podcast that she felt trapped at the Mansion. "I felt like, 'There's no taking that back, so I might as well get what I came for,'" she said about her first sexual encounter with Hefner. "I felt like by moving myself in and getting what I wanted from the situation, that was demanding respect in a way."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.