Holly Madison says Hugh Hefner offered her a Qaalude, a sedative drug that has since been banned in the US, during their first night out together.
Madison, who was a resident of the Playboy mansion and Hefner’s “main girlfriend” in the 2000s, is a participant in Secrets of Playboy, a new A&E documentary re-examining Hefner’s life and the culture he created via the magazine and its associated properties.
“The first night I went out with Hef and the girls, I had it in my mind that I was going to see what happened, and if I wasn’t comfortable with it, I didn’t have to do anything,” Madison says in episode two of the series.
Hefner, she adds, “leaned over and asked [her] if [she] wanted to take a Qaalude”.
According to Madison, when she told him she didn’t usually do drugs, Hefner replied: “I typically don’t either, but they used to call this thigh-openers in the Seventies”.
Madison says she found the comment “weird”.
Qaalude, a brand name for the sedative methaqualone, was prescribed as a sleep aid in the 1970s in the US, where it was banned in 1984 due to mounting abuse.
Eventually, Madison became Hefner’s “main girlfriend”, meaning she was expected to “order his drinks for him, always stand next to him in pictures, and move into his room”.
Asked whether she fell in love with Hefner, Madison tells an interviewer: “I think I definitely thought I was in love with Hef, but it was very Stockholm Syndrome ... Stockholm Syndrome is when somebody starts to identify with somebody who’s their captor in some way, and I feel like I did that with Hef 100 per cent.”
Ahead of the documentary’s release, the PLBY Group, the company behind the magazine and its related properties, issued an open letter seeking to separate the current Playboy magazine from Hefner, who died in 2017 aged 91.
“We trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences,” the letter reads in part. “As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable.”
It adds: “As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”
Secrets of Playboy airs on Mondays at 9pm ET/PT. Two episodes aired on Monday (24 January), and an additional episode will air every week until the finale on 21 March. The docuseries is also available on demand and to stream on the A&E app and aetv.com.
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