Cheap silk pajamas, TVs playing porn and a secret cabinet full of sex toys are among the many revelations in Crystal Hefner’s new memoir “Only Say Good Things: Surviving ‘Playboy’ and Finding Myself.”
For anyone who’s ever been curious about the happenings at California’s legendary Playboy Mansion, Hugh Hefner’s third and last wife, Crystal, pulls back the curtain to reveal a glimpse into life beyond the mansion doors and it’s an unflattering portrait.
From enforced curfews to Hugh Hefner’s “earthquake supply” of Percocet and “copious amounts of Viagra,” the memoir unearths the seamy side of living with the Playboy founder, as well as the control he wielded over her and many other women who called the palatial Los Angeles mansion “home” throughout the years.
“I feel like that whole time was some kind of weird social experiment that will never be repeated again,” Crystal Hefner tells TODAY.com during a phone interview.
Invited to to attend a Halloween party at the mansion in 2008, the then 21-year-old Crystal Harris was plucked from the crowd after being spotted by Hefner. Four years later, she wed the Playboy founder on New Year’s Eve in 2012 and remained married to Hefner until his death in 2017 at the age of 91. She was 26 years old at the time of their marriage.
In the new memoir, the former Playmate and model writes that life at the Playboy Mansion was akin to living in a prison with open doors. “I always had to be home by six o’clock. If I wasn’t, it was a problem. He would be upset. He would be yelling my name through the house,” she says of Hugh Hefner, writing that she felt like Rapunzel locked in a tower.
“I didn’t know then that I could rescue myself. I didn’t always know I needed to be rescued, but I knew I was trapped,” Crystal Hefner says in “Only Say Good Things.”
The title of the book, she writes, is inspired by a conversation she had with the Playboy founder shortly before his death in which he instructed her to “only say good things about me” after he was gone.
A promise she says she kept for a long time before deciding to reveal the details behind her “transactional” life at the Playboy Mansion.
Crystal Hefner says she changed her mind about revealing what went on behind-the-scenes at the Playboy Mansion in hopes of preventing other women and girls from believing that “their worth comes from what they look like” and that their value “can be given to them by other people, and also taken away.”
Something she believes ultimately led to her to choose to live “beneath the shadow of a man’s authority” in order to get a taste of power “I didn’t think I could have on my own.”
TODAY.COM has reached out to Playboy.
Ahead of his ex partner Holly Madison’s memoir, Hefner addressed claimed in a statement to Entertainment Tonight, “Over the course of my life, I’ve had more than my fair share of romantic relationships with wonderful women. Many moved on to live happy, healthy and productive lives, and I’m pleased to say remain dear friends today. Sadly, there are a few who have chosen to rewrite history in an attempt to stay in the spotlight. I guess, as the old saying goes: You can’t win ‘em all!”
On having to ‘beg’ for money
Chronicled in the revealing memoir are details about the renowned parties held at the Playboy Mansion.
Crystal Hefner writes, in the memoir, that her husband used disposable cameras to shoot “blackmail” photos of women showing “everything,” as well as filming “hundreds of sexy tapes” and writing down names of every single woman who went up to his bedroom. In the memoir, Crystal Hefner said Hugh Hefner was so spooked by the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape scandal that he destroyed his tapes.She also discusses the various celebs and politicians who attended Playboy’s infamous bashes.
Calling the late Hefner a “narcissist,” Crystal Hefner details the Playboy mogul’s need for control over the women living at the mansion including a weekly ritual in which they had to ask him for their “allowance.”
“It’s like he wanted us to beg him for something, so he could feel even more powerful and probably have us feel small,” she tells TODAY.com.
“It was weird and it was hard. Looking back, he did use me and manipulate me for his own gain in every way,” she continues.
So deeply impacted by the controlling nature of her husband, Crystal Hefner writes that when he spoke of life after his death, the Playboy founder told her he’d be “waiting for me on the other side.”
Instead of viewing it as “a nice thing,” she says the comment “felt oppressive, almost like a threat.”
The possibility of ‘healing’ with Holly Madison
In “Only Say Good Things,” Crystal Hefner discusses moving into the small room of her predecessor, Holly Madison, a long-time flame of Hugh Hefner’s before the pair parted ways in 2008.
She writes that Madison left the Playboy Mansion under “murky circumstances,” leaving behind a pile of shoes under the bathroom sink and her initials “H.M.” carved into the wood of a vanity desk.
Reports of drama between she and Madison first surfaced after Crystal Hefner joined the reality TV show, the “Girls Next Door,” and the film crew instructed her to say, “I’m not the new Holly, she’s the old me,” into the camera.
“I’d never met Holly in my life. I didn’t know anything about her. But they fed me a line they wanted me to say, and I said it,” she writes in the memoir.
But the film crew wanted rivalry and the comment hit the mark. Soon headlines surfaced about the pair being in a “catfight.”
“Holly thought I was out to tear her down,” Hefner says in the book, which led to years of friction.
In 2022, she took to X (formerly Twitter) to tell Madison that she’d discovered thousands of disposable camera photos taken by her husband after his death and that she had “ripped them up and destroyed every single one of them for you and the countless other women in them.”
In the replies to her tweet, Madison thanked Crystal Hefner.
Where does their relationship stand now?
In a 2023 interview with Access Hollywood, Madison spoke about Hefner’s memoir, saying “I’m really excited to read her book, I think there’s probably a lot of stuff I’ll be able to relate to.”
In the same interview, Madison also mentioned “maybe someday” having Hefner on her podcast “Girls Next Level,” which she co-hosts with former Playmate Bridget Marquardt.
“I’m very open to speaking with Holly and Bridget,” Hefner tells TODAY.com. “I have a bit of a relationship with Kendra (Wilkinson) and she’s great. We all have this similar shared experience and whatever issues there are, I hope between us, we can just put it all past us and all get along. I think it would be very helpful in healing.”
Unlocking the secrets of the Mansion
Hugh Hefner moved into his legendary Holmby Hills, California mansion in 1974 and lived there until his death in 2017. The lush estate served not only as his home, but also the headquarters of Playboy magazine.
In the decades that followed, the enclave became world-famous for Hefner’s wild parties and the endless stream of women on-hand.
According to Crystal Hefner’s memoir, the first time she visited the mansion, she was one of a “busload” of young women shuttled from a Los Angeles parking garage to the mansion, writing that she and the others were excited to go like “trick-or-treaters” hoping for the sweetest reward.”
“What most of us did not know was that inside, it was a maze,” she writes. “And once we went in, it was so hard to find a way out.”
When asked if she sees any similarities between Hugh Hefner and the deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Crystal Hefner tells TODAY.com that “Hef was never really a predator, he kind of had this ‘If you want to be here, you can be here. If not, you don’t,'” she says.
“He manipulated and controlled people in other ways. There are a lot of similarities. There absolutely are. It’s just a complete imbalance of power and using that imbalance to manipulate and control other people.”
Among them? The many women that passed through the Mansion’s doors, says Crystal Hefner.
“I just feel really sorry for the way women were treated,” she says.
While the memoir confirms many of the rumors about the mansion, including sex parties and Hugh Hefner’s seemingly insatiable appetite for women, Crystal Hefner shoots down the long-held urban legend that the mansion had an underground network of tunnels leading to various celebrity homes.
“There were no tunnels,” she tells TODAY.com. “There was a basement that had corridors with storage, but it wasn’t necessarily like tunnels to get anywhere special.”
Mansion folklore also suggests there was a room for the late King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, which Crystal Hefner also addresses.
“The Elvis room, that didn’t exist,” she says.