'Girls Next Door' star Holly Madison reveals the reason she left Hugh Hefner and the Playboy mansion

·4 min read

Holly Madison still has secrets to spill when it comes to her time at the Playboy mansion.

Over a decade after the final episode of Girls Next Door aired on E!, the television series that seemingly pulled back the curtain on the life of Hugh Hefner and his three girlfriends at the time — Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt —the 41-year-old continues to open up about her "horrendous" experience at the mansion, explaining on the Call Her Daddy podcast that she felt stuck in a toxic environment.

"I was kind of desperate. I was sleeping on somebody's couch. I just felt like I need a minute to reset my life and I felt like if I could stay at the mansion and just have a minute to kind of not worry about bills," Madison told host Alex Cooper about her struggle after moving to Los Angeles, prior to moving into the mansion. Still, while contemplating that decision, she hadn't known what to expect of becoming a member of the house nor what Hefner had expected of her.

"I had to sleep with him first," she said. "I’m not trying to slut-shame anybody or anything, but nobody ever got asked to move in unless they had slept with him. No way."

Madison went on to explain the night that it happened, saying that she went out with Hefner and his other girlfriends before he, who she refers to as "Hef," offered her quaaludes — a sedative and hypnotic medication that he called "thigh openers." And although she didn't accept the pills and wasn't under the impression that she'd be expected to sleep with him that night, she was "so wasted and just kind of thrown into it, that once it was done there was something about the experience that made me feel very out of control."

Nonetheless, she stuck to her plan of moving into the mansion, despite the negative experience. "I felt like I was just internalizing all of this shame and I felt like by sticking it out I was fighting for myself and fighting to get something out of this experience, I guess," she shared. "Living at the mansion was something I thought would just be a super fun crazy experience in my twenties that I'd look back on. I knew it wasn't gonna be conventional and I was excited about it and I wanted to stay and get that full experience. ...Everything about the experience was completely different."

Madison explained how she went from one of many girlfriends to Hef's main girlfriend, living in his room and giving up all privacy. It was then that scrutiny from the other women and the disconnect from the outside world led her to have "pretty heavy suicidal ideations." Even when it came to filming the reality show with Wilkinson and Marquardt, Madison said "we signed those contracts under duress."

Bridget Marquardt, Hefner, Madison and Kendra Wilkinson attended red carpets as a foursome. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)
Bridget Marquardt, Hefner, Madison and Kendra Wilkinson attended red carpets as a foursome. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

Despite what she called red flags and overall discomfort with her living situation, as well as her relationship, Madison stayed at the mansion until she was 29 years old and even tried to get pregnant with Hefner. 

"I feel like it was a very Stockholm syndrome type of thing," she said. "I just couldn't really imagine a life outside of there. I thought, 'OK, this is my last stop. I want to have kids, I’m gonna try.' And then when I knew that wasn’t going to be a possibility with him, like we'd tried in vitro [fertilization] and everything, it didn’t work, I was like, 'OK, well if I'm not going to have kids here, that's something I need to think about. This is really like a death sentence in a way.'"

In hindsight, Madison said that she's happy to not have had children with Hefner and recognizes many of his actions as "super clicheé for groomers," while acknowledging that her own behavior was as a result of that environment. "When I look back at Girls Next Door, especially the first few seasons, I see myself just coping," she said. "I was really stiff and not open and just like a robot and just saying the type of things that I felt like Hef would want me to say and things that made him look good, and I almost can’t really regret that because I don’t know how else I would've coped."

As for her relationships with Wilkinson and Marquardt, Madison said she has none with Wilkinson while revealing that she's still close with Marquardt. "We've always been friends since day one. She is [the sweetest]."

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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