There are plenty of people still loyal to Hugh Hefner.
The late magazine mogul was never exactly an upstanding gentleman, but his reputation has taken a serious posthumous hit amidst the new A&E docuseries Secrets of Playboy. Allegations from former girlfriends and employees in the doc include stories of being drugged and assaulted, surveilled and blackmailed with non-consensual sex tapes, covering up overdoses and other crimes, and even sex with animals.
But another set of former associates are now speaking out against this portrayal of the controversial figure. In an open letter obtained by People, “hundreds of former Playboy Bunnies, Playmates, ex-girlfriends and employees” have denounced the series. The letter reads:
“We sign our names to support Hugh M. Hefner. From all we know of Hef, he was a person of upstanding character, exceptional kindness, and dedication to free thought. He demonstrated a commitment to living an honest life beyond everything else. Our time within Hugh Hefner’s Playboy and the organization’s subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of. I proudly sign this letter in recognition of Hugh Hefner’s character amid unfounded allegations in the A&E show.”
Several of the female signers have also made individual statements on the matter, including Hef’s ex-wife of 21 years, Kimberly Hefner, who said:
“All people should be encouraged to share their individual experience in this world, but no one should be emboldened to re-write the truth at the expense of another person’s character. What the allegers who speak out now seem to ignore is that there were many of us throughout the years who were there with them as well. I’m saddened, mostly, that these accounts take light away from true victims of sexual abuse, and hope that in time those selling lies to defame Hef find peace within their own lives.”
Barbara Hedden, a Bunny at the Playboy Clubs from 1972 to 1974 and a “mansion regular throughout the ’70s and ’80s,” wrote:
“I met Hef several times and hung out at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. All who were in his inner circle knew Hef had no expectations of anyone.”
Joy Jamieson, a former employee of Playboy Enterprises from 1969 to 1975, stated:
“Hef was always the kindest man and treated every Bunny with complete respect. He instilled confidence and gave each guest and us the star treatment. I love him. He changed lives for the better! I will forever be grateful to him.”
And Patsy Quinn Bowen, who worked at the Atlantic Playboy Club from 1967 to 1973, said:
“I loved working there. It afforded me a lifestyle I would never have had working as a legal secretary. Remember this is 1967! I met so many good people and have remained friends with some of them throughout the years.”
It should be noted that one woman’s positive experience with a man (or organization) does not necessarily refute another woman’s abusive relationship with him. Most of these statements could be true, and the allegations in the doc could be true at the same time.
Another ex-girlfriend, Renee “Sloan” Baio, made a more targeted statement at one of the women featured in the doc, Holly Madison. She claimed:
“I was there as Holly had just moved in right before me. I was there when she was moving her belongings into Hef’s bedroom. Holly craved and eagerly longed to be the #1 girlfriend.”
Again, this statement – which comes across a bit vindictive – does not actually negate what Holly has shared of her experience. In fact, Holly has admitted to being swayed by the “cult-like” atmosphere of the Playboy Mansion, which lines up with Baio’s recollection.
A statement from A&E following the publication of the open letter reiterated as much:
“The stories shared in Secrets of Playboy are the personal experiences of the documentary’s participants and deserve to be told despite how difficult they may be for some to hear. Signatures on a letter, or a different experience with Mr. Hefner or the Playboy culture, do not negate the experiences of those who have come forward to share their truth on the series and we look forward to continuing to bring these stories to light.”
This situation is undoubtedly complicated, but it seems like the Playboy legacy was long overdue to be examined. What do U make of all this, Perezcious readers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below).
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