Once again, Holly Madison is inviting us down the rabbit hole with her!
The Peep Show star spoke out again about her time in the Playboy mansion during a no-holds-barred podcast interview earlier this month. That tea-spilling convo had two big effects: one was that the other women who lived with her around that time, the other Girls Next Door, the other girlfriends of Hugh Hefner, they had their own opinions to share about the time.
The other big effect was a renewed curiosity among fans who were re-evaluating their views on Hef, the show, and the whole Playboy empire in the light of the #MeToo movement.
And you know what? Holly has you covered.
Ever the open book, the 41-year-old momma took to her own YouTube channel to address a lot of questions she was getting directly — ones she says she didn’t answer in her excellent memoir, Down The Rabbit Hole. In the 25-minute video she mostly talks about The Girls Next Door and how badly its stars were treated — and ironically how it kind of ended up fixing life at the Mansion.
Did she have fun filming the show?
Holly gave a really nuanced answer to this one, explaining the show was its own struggle, but it actually made life at the Mansion better:
“When we were filming the show, that was a really fun time in my life. I know I’ve talked a lot about things at the mansion not being so great, but I was there for seven years total and for like the first three and a half years, things were really, really miserable. And I always had hope that things would get better, and they got a lot better when the show came along. Everybody at the house got along so much better than we did with the cast of characters that was there before.”
Almost like everyone knowing they were being filmed kept the cruelty and infighting she’s described before to a minimum?
Obviously there was a lot of stress filming a reality show, though:
“Doing the show was something I had a lot of hesitation about, I was really nervous about it, I was a private person, I didn’t know how I felt about having my personal life, especially one I hadn’t come to terms with myself, being public and onscreen for the world to see, so I definitely had mixed feelings about it for a while, but it was a great opportunity and it turned a lot of the negativity of the situation into a positive situation in a lot of ways, so I’m super grateful for the opportunity. So yeah, that was a happy time in my life, not 100% happy — I wasn’t totally happy with the personal life relationship, but it was way better than it had been in the past, so comparatively yes it was a happy time.”
She also jokes:
“If cameras would have been around the first year I lived there, it would have been crazy. It would have been like a dark, depressing documentary.”
Reality TV making the world a better place? Huh.
Did producers feed the girls lines?
Remember when viewers learned this about The Hills and Laguna Beach? Well, this is kind of a bigger revelation, frankly, since we ALL already knew that about those shows. Holly reveals:
“Absolutely they fed lines that I didn’t want to say. Nothing that was crazy or too big of a deal or super out there, but I remember being asked to repeat myself a lot.”
She said it’s been long enough she doesn’t remember individual lines anymore, but she knows the gist:
“I don’t specifically remember what I was asked to repeat all the time, I think it was stuff along the lines of wanting to marry Hef and stuff like that. They just wanted that same gag over and over and over again, and I kind of felt bored doing that. I felt like the show could go deeper or could go in other directions, and they wanted the same thing over and over.”
Would she do it though? Yeah…
“A lot of times I would just go along with it and say it because I knew I would be sitting in that interview chair until they got what they wanted anyway.”
Yeesh! It sounds like they treated her like a performing monkey!
But she does remember fighting back, too:
“I remember there was one time there was a specific producer who was asking me to say something I did NOT want to say, and I totally dug my heels in and didn’t say it. The way she kept arguing with me about it was, I would say, ‘I’m not gonna say that because I don’t feel that way.’”
Holly admitted she doesn’t even remember the line anymore, but she knew it was something that would have been a total lie:
“I think it was something where they were trying to make me look jealous of someone else, another girl or something, and I’m like, ‘I don’t care, I don’t feel that way.’ And they’re like, ‘Yes, Holly, yes you do, you do feel that way.’”
Holly did NOT appreciate that nonsense:
“Who are you to try and brainwash me and gaslight me and say, ‘No you do feel that way,’ when I don’t? It was just, like, annoying, so I dug my heels in and I never said what they wanted me to say… I wasn’t going to say anything disparaging about someone else.”
Good for you, gurl!
About that E! documentary…
In case you missed it, Andy Cohen hosted a documentary special on E! last month called For Real: The Story of Reality TV. In it her old co-star/nemesis Kendra Wilkinson and executive producer Kevin Burns both said some things about her and Bridget Marquardt — who weren’t there to defend themselves!
“Bridget and I were both asked to participate in that. This was last year during quarantine, we both said no. I thought it didn’t sound like anything I’d be interested in. When it comes to my story about that time in my life, I’m really particular about who I will talk to and who I will do interviews with about it because I’m so over just being part of the Playboy version of stories and having myself edited to fit that. So I just didn’t trust it.”
Now, here on her YT channel, she gets the final edit! And she also says she trusted the Call Her Daddy podcast. But…
“I just didn’t feel good about that ‘opportunity.’ [big air quotes LOLz] I just had no interest in doing it anyway.”
The most egregious claim was probably when Burns said the girls were super competitive about screen time and that Bridget “would have a stopwatch and she would track how many screen minutes Kendra would get.” Well, that little nugget?
“Completely untrue and I’m kind of grossed out that he even said that. First of all, why he would accuse Bridget of that and bring her into it, I have no idea. Bridget is exactly what you’d see on the show. She was like the sweetest, most unproblematic person, and she never did anything to him. So I don’t know why he drags her name into this.”
Holly then turns it around, going after him personally:
“This guy was a very weird person. I used to really like him, I thought he was charming, I thought he was fun to talk to, but over the years I realized what a manipulator he was and how he tried to play the three of us against each other, even past Girls Next Door because he produced our spinoffs, too, so even into that era. He would try and play us off each other and make us jealous of each other to get us to do things he wanted for the show.”
Ew. Doesn’t sound good for the stars.
Madison goes on to reiterate she was “excited about the opportunity but was super nervous about it, too.” She then stated once again how she had been on antidepressants around that time due to her depression and anxiety. She says she was not “in any way, thirsty for camera time” and early on in the show’s run would actually hide from the cameras in Hef’s room because “no one would disturb him.”
“I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed doing the show until Season 3. That was when I finally got comfortable with it.”
As to the idea that she was worried about screen time, she never even felt like it was uneven:
“I never sat there with a stop watch, so I could be wrong, but I don’t feel like it ever favored time with one or the other.”
“I think it’s really gross that he said that and I think he should be ashamed of himself. I know he’s bitter at me and mad at me for writing the book, but for him to bring up Bridget and say she did something she didn’t do to make her look petty, is 100% and I think it’s messed up.”
Would she do a reunion?
Sorry, Girls fans, but it doesn’t sound like two thirds of the cast are interested. Holly says:
“They asked last year and I know, because I still talk to Bridget, we both turned it down because we thought, ‘No, why?’ It’s just not interesting to me to do a reunion. I might do a twist on a reboot… but not just a straight up reunion. That just does nothing for me.”
A reboot, eh? Hmm…
Does she still get paid for the show?
Asked whether she receives royalties for The Girls Next Door, she says definitively:
“No, of course not. I was on a reality show, I wasn’t protected by any union. That work wasn’t seen as under jurisdiction from SAG-AFTRA.”
She reiterated the titular Girls were not being taken care of in the slightest:
“Nobody was looking out for us as far as residuals and of course that was never built into our deals because why would that be built into our deals?”
She shuddered in disgust.
Speaking of gross…
Hef’s weird habits
Asked if Hef really drank Jack Daniels or if that was just an ad, she confirmed:
“He did really drink Jack Daniels, and he would have a water bottle with him sometimes, but he drank Jack and Coke like morning to night. Like, I don’t know how he lived. I don’t know how he lived drinking that much Jack and Coke.”
She then added one other odd bit of trivia we’d never heard about Hugh Hefner:
“He was allergic to bacon. He would have a mild allergic reaction to bacon. But he would always insist on eating this breakfast-at-night meal sometimes, and sometimes he’d eat the bacon. And he’d start like coughing up a lung, like I thought he gonna choke. And he’d down almost a bottle of Benadryl. I’m like, ‘Is this worth it? Is this worth it for the bacon?’ It was kind of scary.”
Yes, the Playboy Mansion is haunted
Holly just answered this question by saying, “Absolutely!”
“The first time I ever saw a full body apparition was in the gym, and I know Bridget saw full body apparitions in her room as well. And we would have these moments… I was in her room once, and we were just talking about ghosts and stuff, and I’m like, ‘You know, I haven’t really seen anything… I just really wish somebody would send me a sign or something, like I really need to see something before I can believe in it.’ And at that moment her TV just like burst on really loud!”
Whoa! Talk about a sign!
“And it was just, like, the timing of that was so uncanny we just felt like it was someone trying to communicate with us. We always had little things like that.”
She mentions one other place where the energy was off…
“There was this bathroom up on the third floor that I would hide in sometimes if I wasn’t feeling well or just wanted to be by myself and nobody to disturb me. And like the toilet would flush by itself sometimes, and it was always at weird little moments where I felt like it was someone trying to communicate with me.”
She said there were “probably a million” other stories, but “for sure” the Mansion is haunted.
See more from Holly, totally unfiltered (below)!