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May 22, 2024 69 mins

The legend and legacy (and lies) of Hugh Hefner and Playboy loom large to this day and left an undeniable impact - and caused a lot of harm, largely centered on exploiting women. Friend of the show Bridget Todd joins us in breaking down the history, the PR behind the public image and the damage behind it all.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hey, this is Anny and Samantha and welcome to Steffe
never told you a production of iHeart Radio.

Speaker 2 (00:18):
And today we have a very special episode. I know
when we have episodes with Bridget, and I feel like
this is a hint. We always talk about so many
things that we're always like, Okay, we have to come
back and we have to do an episode on it. Well,
today we are keeping our word and we have actually
brought back our fabulous friend. I feel like she is

(00:41):
an expert of all things like pop culture. I'm gonna
put that out there as part of your title. Bridget.
I was say that we are actually coming on a
subject that we were like, yes, we need to talk
about it. So first and foremost, welcome Bridget.

Speaker 3 (00:54):
Thank you. I'm so excited to be back.

Speaker 4 (00:57):
And this was like the last time I was chat
with you too, we were like, oh, we should talk
about this, and I'm happy that we are actually doing it.
I'm that it's actually here, it is, it's happening, we're
doing it.

Speaker 2 (01:10):
It was too big. We could not do this and
what we are talking about, we're talking about the infamy
and overall impact of who the legend who. I mean,
we can't deny this of Hugh Hefner. So before we start,
we're going to put this at the very top of content. Warning,
trigger warning, so many warnings, And I don't even know

(01:30):
if I'm going to put all of the things I
should be tagged in here, so maybe we'll have to
come back. But just be aware. We're going to talk
about rape, We're talking about exploitation, death, suicide, murder, grooming,
drug use, trafficking, and even human trafficking. So I think
there's a lot of big conversations to be had just
you know, adult topics. So if you're listening to this
and you're like, oh, this is a great listen on

(01:51):
a ComUE while I'm going to pick up my kids
and you have your kids in the car, I would
probably pause.

Speaker 3 (01:57):
I would definitely pause.

Speaker 2 (02:00):
Because it's going to be explicit. I do think the
lessons that have been left in the aftermath of Hugh
Hefner and what he has done should be talked about
for generations of many marginalized people. I think it's a
big thing. And whether you want to call it a
warning label essentially, like you want to warn others about

(02:20):
practices like this, or whether you want to talk about
it as a historical context of how it really influenced us.
This is a conversation to be had. So Bridget and
I have two different perspectives, right, I think we just
talked about this earlier.

Speaker 4 (02:35):
Yeah, I mean, I agree that this is not the
episode to be in your car with the kids.

Speaker 3 (02:42):
But what's funny is that.

Speaker 4 (02:44):
So preparing for this episode was honestly almost like a
casthartic emotional personal experience. Because I don't know about y'all,
but I watched the show Girls next Door on e
about what's going on on the Playboy mansion when I
was in junior high high school, and so what's interesting
to me is that that show took great pains to

(03:06):
make the playboy lifestyle look kind of like wholesome and
squeaky clean and fun for the whole family.

Speaker 3 (03:12):
So I don't think I was the.

Speaker 4 (03:15):
Only junior high or high school girl watching that show
as a youth. But now the conversation really kind of
looking back and being like, well, what was going on
in that house? That conversation is very mature and adults
and has very mature themes, but it's so interesting how
it was framed us wholesome and squeaky clean then and
now the actual reality is like, oh no, this was

(03:36):
not wholesome nor it could not have been less squeaky clean.
And it's interesting going back and looking to see, like
how big of an impact that had on probably a
lot of.

Speaker 2 (03:45):
Us, right, I agree with you. I will say, as
I was going to ask this question to both of y'all,
when did you learn about or have your first encounter
with Playboy magazine specifically or Playboy y'all? Did y'all ever
have one? Or what did you become aware of it?

Speaker 1 (04:01):
I have never encountered a Playboy magazine. I think that
I was aware of it, surprised to know one through
like pop culture of Hugh Heffner's appeared in a bunch
of like The Simpsons and things like that. I think
that was my knowledge of it, was that I was
aware that it was a big thing.

Speaker 5 (04:25):
There are like multiple.

Speaker 1 (04:26):
Instances of movies where women dress up as like Playboy bunnies.
I think that was much more. My realm of knowing
what Playboy and all about Hugh Hefner was his cameos,
his multiple cameos he did in several things. And then
I mean it was it was just embedded in so

(04:49):
much of our pop culture for a while. So like
I knew about it, but I never actually seen a
Playboy magazine or anything like that. I just knew it
was a big deal, right right, Yeah, I think what
about you weregid?

Speaker 4 (05:06):
Yeah, Similarly to Annie, I can't think of a I
can't conjure up a memory of me like holding a
Playboy magazine or stumbling across a Playboy magazine. But also
I can't think of a time when I was not
aware of it in the culture. And I think it
is such an interesting point Annie about the cameos on

(05:28):
family friendly shows and things like that. How and the
reference is how that creates a culture where it's commonplace,
where I can't even remember a time where it wasn't
something that was on my radar. But I yet I
have no idea the first time that it actually was
on my radar. It was just sort of always there.

Speaker 2 (05:45):
Right Interestingly, like for me, I guess maybe coming from
South Korea, like literally being born and raised, I wasn't
really aware of all of that. I came into the
US and I knew porn existed, obviously, that was a thing.
I knew that there were probably there were magazines, and
I'm trying to remember when the big lawsuit happened in which, uh,

(06:06):
they made all of those types of magazines be behind
like either dark or black plastic, because it was I
think in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure it was in
my lifetime.

Speaker 4 (06:15):
I can confirm that it was because I have clear
memories of going into stores and being like, ooh, what's
that magazine right where they were.

Speaker 2 (06:25):
So stuff like that was fairly new, like at the point,
like oh okay. But I also do remember I have
a very clear like, I don't think it was a
Playboy magazine. I can't remember because I've now started to
use some of like things that I've seen on TVs,
like is that my memory or is that? But I
do have a very clear memory of a friend of
mine when I was in i want to say, the
second or third grade, in which her dad, oh like

(06:47):
had a subscription to the pay per view channel of
Playboy magazine, like specifically their channel, and like turning it
on because you know, when you're at like each other's house,
you're doing naughty things. You're like, oh, well look at this,
look what my dad and I was like officially scared
of the man after the fact, actually, but that has
a whole different thing of trauma for me. But like
he like it was there, it existed in our movie.

(07:09):
Were like, wow, people watch this because I came from
a very like conservative Christian home, so none of that
existed in my world. So to go to someone else's house.
And by the way, he was a very revered doctor
in our town. I don't think I told anybody. I
was very good at keeping sick Cacus apparently. But anyway,
but that was kind of like my first interaction of
what this was. And I was like, oh, and this

(07:30):
is when they were and we're going to talk a
little more about all the things started doing porn, which
they always denied was a thing for them, Like that's
something that they were like, Oh, we're not poor magazine.
We are a a gentleman's magazine, which yes, we're going
to get into. But that's one of my first memories
of like, this is a big deal and what is

(07:51):
this and the level that they had, especially in a
man's world, and my view on the man the man
after seeing that, which is different conversation.

Speaker 3 (08:01):
Oh my gosh.

Speaker 4 (08:01):
I mean, so it's so funny that your first like
your first interaction with Playboy was actual like pornography that
was like watched on a channel that is like a
pornographic channel, because I don't think I could tell you
that I understood that Playboy produced pornography until quite a

(08:23):
bit later, like.

Speaker 3 (08:25):
In junior high.

Speaker 4 (08:27):
I don't know if how it was in y'all's school,
but like you, people had the Playboy symbol on there,
like like girls walked around with the Playboy symbol on
their shirt. Right, it was it was a common thing
for the white girls to like tan and then like
I guess I don't know if they were like putting
like a cutout, it was a different to almost make
it look like a tattoo in their skin. And so

(08:49):
it was such a big part of the culture, but
yet removed from the pornography. And it's so funny that
for you it was like, oh it was my first
inner into action with it was like that's photography.

Speaker 2 (09:03):
Leg and you're a dirty dude.

Speaker 5 (09:08):
That's my memory.

Speaker 2 (09:10):
But yeah, so this is, as we've already said, we
are talking about the legacy of Hugh Hefner. When I
say legacy, we're putting this in like and all of
it's like good and bad. We're not talking about uh again.
I think before, even in the last ten years, we
didn't even talk about him as a like a like

(09:33):
a bad dude essentially, like people really wanted to play
out his all these things that he did for society
and for our culture and not really talking about what
was happening in the depth of it and what he
was truly truly doing, like this is all so self serving.

Speaker 3 (09:49):
Oh my god.

Speaker 4 (09:50):
So I know we're going to get to it, and
I don't want to derail us, but plus like plus
plus plus a thousand to that, and the thing that
I want to like, my opinion on the topic is,
I think that is very much with intention. I think that,
you know, when I That's one of the reasons why
I'm obsessed with reading the memoirs and listening to podcasts

(10:10):
of the women who were part of this orbit is
I think from the free speech crusades and racial justice
crusades and talking about sexual liberation and feminism to the
public pr culture image of like, oh, I'm a nice
grandpa in a robe and this is all very squeaky
clean and like it's all wholesome, I think all of

(10:31):
that was manufactured with intention for us the public to
not think about Hugh Hefner and his legacy in a
way that is frankly realistic to what it actually looked like.

Speaker 3 (10:44):
I think that, you know, and so I don't want
to make it seem like he didn't do.

Speaker 4 (10:46):
These things for free speech and racial equality. But when
people are talking about like, oh, it's complicated legacy, I
even think that doesn't get at what we're actually talking about,
which is using the dark arts of pr to us
secure wrongdoing, some of which is criminal, right, you know,
right right, And.

Speaker 2 (11:06):
I think we have to put this. I was saying
earlier that Bridget and I have kind of a two
different perspective because she has done the intellectual thing and
read all the things, while I went down the true
crowding level of watching the Secrets of Playboy or the
Secrets of the Mansion on A and E. None of
this is a sponsor because I was like, all right,
I'm not I'm not gonna read books, but I'll watch this.

(11:27):
But the amount of shock that I had watching this
and really like having to cleanse my soul after the
fact of like, oh, everything's the worst. So with all
of that, he has never been convicted of anything, So
we need to go ahead and put this here when
we were talking about this, we have to say that
all of this is alleged because nothing has been proved
in the court or any way like outside of these

(11:49):
people's experiences. So we are doing that. But you also
know here that we believe women in a story. So
all of that to say, we're trying to put like
trying to frame it in a of like, this is
what was told in these things, whether it's the memoir,
whether it's biographies from whatever, or whether it is this documentary. Yes,

(12:10):
at this point we have to say this alleged for
the documentary in itself. It was released after his death,
and there are a lot of people who were very upset,
and they're very upset at the women who are writing
writing these memoirs. Those moments out screaming at the TV
from some of the people defending Hugh Efner. So I

(12:35):
did have moments of me like you are full of
sh oh and I really don't.

Speaker 3 (12:39):
Like that, my God, like can we get it?

Speaker 4 (12:44):
So like that is a thing that I both from
the memoirs and from what I've watched at the doc Like,
how many people, many of whom were like on the
doll or involved in some way, are like, how dare
these women try to tarnish his legacy?

Speaker 3 (12:56):
And I just want to be like you would say
that you were being paid, you were part of this,
Like you would say that right.

Speaker 2 (13:12):
Part of this thing was like, Annie, you might not
want to watch. This is super gross.

Speaker 1 (13:17):
I did get a text on Samantha that was like, oh,
maybe don't do this, so I read about it.

Speaker 5 (13:23):
I did the in between yat document.

Speaker 2 (13:29):
She researched in that way, she's like without having to
listen to everything that is happening according to because they
which the documentary itself, I have to go ahead and
put this in there. For the first few episodes, I
was like, oh, this is interesting because they did it
where they like had like playbacks or you know, reenactments.
But then like towards the end of them, they had

(13:50):
a journalist who was on a Playboy as well come
in and do an actual sit down interview with people.
So it was very like shocking, like the way they
decided to do it wasn't like an aftermath thing, like
she just sat and talked with different people about their
different experiences and it was an interesting dichotomy of how
they decided to do that documentary just on a like

(14:13):
overall review of the documentary.

Speaker 4 (14:15):
So for people wondering I picked up on exactly what
you're talking about. There were like some editorial choices that
I was like, oh, interesting, okay, this is how we're
doing it, Like it is a little jarring.

Speaker 3 (14:29):
I guess how I felt.

Speaker 2 (14:30):
Yeah, yeah, I was like, wait, okay, okay. But with that,
we're going to do a very brief talk about who
he was. Who Hugh Hefner was, and he was actually
born April ninth, nineteen twenty six in Chicago to a
very conservative family which he talked about quite a lot,
who had hopes of him being a missionary, which I
was like, huh, that's sounds about right. He served in

(14:50):
the military for a couple of years as a writer
of the military newspaper, so he's good at this. Went
to school at the University of Illinois at a Brno
champaign with a bachelor's in arts and in psychology and
creative writing and art. He worked as a copywriter for Esquire,
which I was like, huh, but eventually left to start
Playboy magazine, which he was going to originally name stag Party,

(15:14):
which when I at hear things like that, when I'm
like the original idea, I was like, yeah, that was
not gonna work.

Speaker 3 (15:19):
Yeah, stag Party.

Speaker 4 (15:20):
I'm glad you rebranded because stag Party is just not
a good name.

Speaker 3 (15:24):
It's not a good brand.

Speaker 2 (15:26):
That's such a different connotation too, like very like Playboy
is weird enough, but like stag Party is, like you're
excluding women altogether, So what's the point, right, But it's anyway,
And it was published in nineteen fifty three, and I
think we actually had a recent conversation about this, right
when we were talking about the fact that the first
cover was featured Marilyn Monroe, who never actually consented or

(15:50):
approved of this.

Speaker 4 (15:53):
Yes, and she I would argue that, like she was
not appropriately compensated, like she had done a photo shoot
for a calendar company. The person who ran that calendar
company was like, Oh, nobody will ever see these photos.

Speaker 3 (16:06):
It's fine, you know she So she.

Speaker 4 (16:08):
Believed that Hugh Hefner then bought those images without her
consent and put them on the cover of Playboy, and
like that becave me big part of the Playboy empire.
So I would actually argue that the entire legacy is
kind of has its foundation in trickery, coercion, and economic
exploitation of women's sexuality. You know, I don't begrudge anybody

(16:30):
who wants to take off their clothes and be photographed
for money, but I would not argue that Marilyn Nrue
was not properly compensated or could not consent to the
way that image would go on to be used. This
came up in the episode that we did around the
Lena image was a playboy model whose image went on
to like really.

Speaker 3 (16:47):
Shape the Internet.

Speaker 4 (16:48):
And I think we see this again and again with
like the foundation being the exploitation of women, right yeah.

Speaker 2 (16:54):
As in fact, in a biography dot com article, they
talk about how she was given fifty dollars too, and
she did this before all of her fame happened, because
she needed to do a car payment, supposedly, and she
was like, all right, as long as it's not gonna
show my face, it blurs my image out great. And
then this company bought it for nine hundred dollars, and
then Hefner came through and bought the rights with five

(17:16):
hundred dollars and then used it and like there's this
whole conversation about the fact that he had never met
Marilyn Monroe, as in fact he alleges, and no one
has verified that he had a phone conversation with her
about it. Again, we don't know that for sure. And
also he bought the plot next to her grave, yeah,

(17:38):
because he felt like he had some kind of I'm
going to say ownership of her. But more so his
refrain was like we have a connection.

Speaker 3 (17:46):
Oh.

Speaker 4 (17:46):
I read a quote of him talking about this and
he was like, this is a paraphrase, but something along
the lines of like I can't imagine anything sweeter than
an my asmitting my eternity resting on top of Marilyn Monroe.

Speaker 2 (17:58):
Gross, I will say, I did not look into the fact.
Do we know did he actually do this?

Speaker 5 (18:04):
Yes?

Speaker 3 (18:05):
He is real. Yeah, that's been verifact.

Speaker 1 (18:07):
You know.

Speaker 2 (18:07):
I mean he buried like he's actually married, yes, Oh,
or Marilyn Monroe, she's been so taken advantage of even
after death. Come on, leave Norma Jean alone anyway, Okay,
but just other like little fact because I'm not doing
a big long thing if Hefner was arrested in nineteen
sixty three for promoting obscene literature, but the case ended

(18:31):
with a hung jury, so nothing happened with that. Hefner
eventually gave up the seat as being the face of
Playboy to his son Cooper in twenty twelve, who, by
the way, is very loud about saying nothing of none
of this is true. All of these allegations aren't true
and unfounded. And I believe he has actually four children,
two by his first wife he married before Playboy. I
believe he married before he went into military. And Cooper

(18:54):
wasn't one of those, but his daughter, Christie Hefner was
one of Like believe she was some kind of big
ceo or key player in the nineteen nineties.

Speaker 4 (19:06):
Yes, like she shows up in his sort of protecting
his legacy.

Speaker 2 (19:10):
Right when they originally brought her in, And like many
companies today, they were trying to show face as like, see,
we're about women, we want to put women in leadership roles.
Here's my daughter. Look at her, who shut down many
things and mature women suffered allegedly.

Speaker 3 (19:27):
Allegedly put that in here.

Speaker 2 (19:30):
And then he died in twenty seventeen at the age
of ninety one. I mean, people celebrate him, and I
did find this article because all of the articles, if
you put Playboy now, it's all about these documentaries and memoirs,
which I'm kind of glad about. But this was an
interesting rite of Hefner in twenty eleven, while he was
still alive, in The New York Times by Charles McGrath,

(19:52):
titled How hef Got his Groove Back? Why They Got
to Still Things Anyway, it says Hefner is a little odd, certainly,
but not a sleeves bag. He has none of Bob
Guccione's oiliness or Larry Flint's leering vulgarity. His manner is
open and direct, and his language is as clean as

(20:12):
a Midwestern rotarians. By his own lights, having purged himself
of the shame and hypocrisy that is a part of
most Americans sexual baggage, he leaves a life that is
exceptionally honest and moral. It is also a life that
is exceptionally well documented. He has been written about so
often and for so long that in interviews now he

(20:34):
tends to recycle himself, saying the same things over and
over again, not in a bored wrote fashion, but as
if they had just occurred to him. He complains a
lot about America's puritanical, contradictory attitudes towards sex, and likes
to say that he is a quote, one eyed man
in a blind world. He also thinks that most men

(20:56):
would kill to be in his place. I feel like
the only true line to that is that last line.

Speaker 3 (21:03):
Why don't even think that's true?

Speaker 4 (21:05):
Because when you read, because when you read some of
these memoirs, it's like it actually doesn't sound that great
for anybody who was in that mansion. It's probably going
the best for helf Right, but it doesn't even sound
like it's great for him in some in some regards,
and I will say, like, you're so spot on that
this is all lies. And having read what some of
the women have to say about what it was like
to be required to have sex with him nightly, he

(21:27):
is not someone who sounds like he is free of
sexual baggage at all. Is not someone who is like
sexually free and like a libertine.

Speaker 3 (21:35):
If you read these accounts of what it.

Speaker 4 (21:37):
Was like to have sex with him and be required
to do so regularly for your room and board, he
sounds like somebody who had quite a few sexual hang
ups that were playing.

Speaker 3 (21:45):
Out in the bedroom. So even that's not true.

Speaker 4 (21:47):
Even this, even this very carefully manufactured persona of how
he was as a lover or as a sexual person
is a house.

Speaker 2 (21:57):
Of lies, right, article, they do say, because he talks
this is in the era of the Girl's next Door
and how it really did do a lot. Because I'm
with you, Ritchie, when you were talking about earlier, I
watched this thinking that it was a cute show. It
was like, oh, this is like the real housewife of
so and so like in this timeframe and really set

(22:19):
up these three playful girls who all like had different
characters to play, and then him in the background as
just being that wise old man taking care of his
girls literally, like that's what it seemed, and they all
made sure that it felt like they were all immature
and doing things and he was keeping them in line
or at least keeping them safe.

Speaker 5 (22:41):
Right.

Speaker 2 (22:42):
But he talks about the fact that what did these
girls get out of it, and he says a mentor
at one point, a friend, and then just the key
to success. So again, but that of course plays it
back onto the women.

Speaker 3 (22:55):
First of all, a mentor.

Speaker 4 (22:57):
That's I don't that's so deeply insulting when you when
you read this the way that the women describe their
own experiences, that's just not true.

Speaker 3 (23:07):
You know, A key keys to success, I guess it's
when we were when I was like kind.

Speaker 4 (23:12):
Of preparing and thinking about this episode. That's something that
I'm really grappling with and I don't have the answer
there of Like a lot of these women, their association
with Playboy is what gave them public attention and public
profiles and platforms. So the question is, like, is that success?
Is that a successful life? Is that a full life?

(23:34):
If these women are happy, more power to them, that's great.
But then you read these memoirs and many of them
did not sound happy. Many of them did not seem
to be happy with what was going on. And they
thread that runs from all of the memoirs that I
have read is like I didn't feel like I had
a lot of other options. I needed a place to live,
I needed money, whatever, whatever, And like I think it

(23:55):
comes down to, like, like what is success as defined
by our culture and defined by each and every one
of us. Like I don't know where I sort of
stand about like whether or not this was something that
was actually good.

Speaker 3 (24:06):
For these women.

Speaker 2 (24:07):
Right.

Speaker 1 (24:08):
Yeah, And I think that's something I grapple with a
lot too. Is you know, for one, that there's no
he was.

Speaker 5 (24:19):
Not a mentor. I just refuse to believe that.

Speaker 1 (24:24):
But it's like I've been I've seen this happen where
it's a man who will be like I can get you,
I can get you to the top, kid like making
you all these promises like I can you will find
success with me, and being feeling like, Okay, this is
what I have to do to get success, and just
the systemic issues with that. But I also think, like

(24:49):
we've been talking about this a lot. We just did
an episode about Bumble and what their ad campaign that was.

Speaker 6 (24:54):
A menu, and it's I feel there is this thing
that is more nuanced than people are trying to make
it where it's like, oh, you're sexually empowered, you want
to do this, right, but it's still men like manipulating
women into doing this thing.

Speaker 1 (25:15):
And if that's what you want to do, more power
to you. But I feel like it's so often presented
as oh, I'm going to empower you so that men
can look at you.

Speaker 2 (25:28):
Yeah, totally, there's a lot of cautions of ethics.

Speaker 4 (25:32):
Yeah, what I was looking into all of the different
things that people say is part of Hugh Hefner's legacy
around things like equality and racial equality. Like it's like, oh,
he had the first trans playmate in his magazine. He
had the first black playmate, and then a black woman
who was photographed on a cover of Playboy with an afro,

(25:53):
And I understand why people are talking about this in
the frame of a quality. Like when Hefner died, Caroline
Tulakasi said that, you know, she was the first transgender
woman in the magazine, and she tweeted Rip qu Heffnrd,
thank you for allowing me to share my story and
for your support and platform that helped my campaign her
trans rights and visibility. So I get that, but it

(26:15):
makes me a bit sad that the equality that we're
talking about is having underrepresented people being served up to
be sexually consumed in this way, and that part and
parcel of that with Playboy has always been giving the
women less economically right, Like even that first story that

(26:35):
you that you shared sam about Marilyn Monroe, the person
who got the least amount of money in that exchange
was Marilyn Monroe. Everybody else was getting more money. For
her body, and so yeah, I just it is it
is complicated in that is that really equality?

Speaker 3 (26:50):
You know?

Speaker 2 (26:51):
Right? And in the in the Marilyn Monroe in that
article at biography dot com, she talks about the fight
that they've made millions of dollars off of me and
I've not seen like she literally talks about the fact
that she knows how much money that they have made
off of this, and how he really did advertise me
like first time news that with people have talked about
never seen like he made sure to blow this up

(27:12):
in a way that it was going to sell and
launch him into being a millionaire. But I find it
interesting that when we come back because at the end,
I do want to have this conversation because playboy Hugh
Hefner touts this whole ideal of allowing women to be
a part of these conversations and being whatever they want

(27:32):
to be through this access, and it's all about sexual
liberation and for women as well. We want to give
you the freedom to choose and enjoy sex and say
that you like sex. But when it comes down to
that being the fact that women have to pay in
order to be able to say that, but they're not
able to say that because they can't say no, Like,
there's so many conversations to that, And at what point

(27:53):
in what platform is there a possibility? Is there a
true way that women can be sexually liberate where they
have all of the power to have the consent that
they deserve and to be able to profit off it
if they want to, Like, do they have equality in
a field that has been abused and used to abuse
women for so long? Like, there's so much like depth

(28:17):
to that because they're like, we wanted to be and
Playboy made money off of that idea, right, So where
do we get that?

Speaker 4 (28:24):
And I would argue, like that is a great question
and a great conversation to have, But I can't look
at the legacy of Playboy and say that they were
actually offering women that in a meaningful way, right, Like,
just let's look at some of the things that we
know about what went on in the mansion, you know, right,
selling pictures of women that were taken without their consent.

(28:46):
In all the memoirs, the women talk about how they
did not know, but there was cameras in Hugheffner's bedroom,
and so in these required nightly orgies, they didn't know
that they were being filmed. And if your whole thing,
if your whole platform is around sexual freedom, sexual liberation
that has to that can't happen if there's also coercion

(29:07):
and a lack of informed consent, those things cannot co exist.
And so if you are not getting consent from women,
and women are being coerced into things that they don't
know that they're doing, and I'm certainly they are consenting
to you, there is no sexual liberation.

Speaker 3 (29:19):
You're selling a lie. And so I'm not going to
say that there is not a model where.

Speaker 4 (29:25):
Women can truly have like meaningful sexual liberation that also
does not involve like coercion or exploitation or something. I'm
not gonna say that, but I can certainly look at
this model and say this wasn't in it.

Speaker 2 (29:38):
You know, right, absolutely absolutely. I'm fact we're going to
talk about the fact that, yes, overall, Hugh Hefner's legacy
is a rollercoaster and doing a steady decline, and I
think we're all here for that. From an NPR article
by Scott Simon, he writes, Hugh Hefner saw the sexual
revolution as a companion to the movements of civil rights

(29:58):
and free speech. But this leading figure of the sexual
revolution couldn't see the feminist revolution. Heff went from being
acclaimed an icon of cool to being denounced and oppressive.
Pick And he also goes on to say that Hefner's
reputation for many of the women in Chicago was actually
pretty good for some. He says, when I was growing
up in Chicago, the formidable women who were my mother's

(30:20):
friends considered Playboy a good place to work for a
single woman. Women at the Playboy Club were well paid,
got chauffeured home in cabs, and customers stars, politicians, even
it was rumored spoiled by Middle Eastern princes were thrown
out if they weren't gentlemen. My Auntie Abba trained Playboy bunnies.
When Gloria Steinem and others said the bunny costume which

(30:43):
wrenched a woman's bodice upwards so her chest resembled ice
cream scoops or exhibit a in the way Hugh Hefner
made women into idealized sex objects, my Auntie Aba sniffed
and said, well, they wear some pretty ridiculous costumes at
the Metropolitan Opera two, So it was interesting. And he
is not in favor, Like he's not talking highly, he's

(31:04):
just talking about what he had experienced as a child
in Chicago who had connections. And you know what I
will say from the documentary, it starts off that way
in this conversation. And of course when we talk about
the Playboy clubs, the legacy of the clubs and the magazines,
though they were related, were still two different money makers, right,
Because I think it's interesting to note that, as Hugh

(31:27):
Hefner was like, I'm about equal equality, I am about
all these things, the little ratio of marginalized people in
the magazine is very low, like real real, real, real,
real low, right, real.

Speaker 4 (31:41):
Low, And yet he's like a celebration, like, yes, it's
super low. It's super white, super conventional. And it's like, oh, well,
he did have a black woman with an afro on
the cover right once or twice, Like it's like, how is.

Speaker 3 (31:54):
It this low?

Speaker 4 (31:55):
And you're also being like heralded as a paragon of
racial equality.

Speaker 2 (31:59):
Right, And I just like the level of like how
many black women were featured is like single digits, and
one of them happened to be LaToya Jackson, who was
there as a celebrity essentially, and the way he showed.
I think some of his diversity is hiring them at clubs,
is what it sounds like. So they weren't necessarily featured
on the magazine. You weren't good enough for that, but

(32:21):
you're good enough to make me money this way.

Speaker 4 (32:23):
Oh yes, that is that is a tension that still
existed and still ran as an undercurrent through a lot
of them, the memoirs that I've read of like parts
of the pape, the Playboy Enterprise, or these coveted things
like getting a cover, being a playmate, and so it's like, oh,
I'm good enough to like be at your trashy parties
and like make you money in some ways, but in

(32:44):
other ways I'm not good enough.

Speaker 3 (32:45):
Like like that dynamic is very.

Speaker 4 (32:47):
Much an undercurrent of the Playboy, the Playboy that we
were watching, like in the Girls next Door era too.

Speaker 2 (32:54):
And you know, we're going to kind of talk about
a little bit of what he his legacies are and
when these contain and one of the big things that
people always spout is about free speech.

Speaker 4 (33:04):
Oh yes, So this the free speech thing definitely is
a kind of a part of his legacy. And as
you mentioned him, like part of it is because as
a person who makes and distributes pornography, he had to
defend his own work in his own business from censorship
and like government censorship and all of that. Him and
his ex wife established the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award,

(33:26):
which is still given out today. It creates it which
I think I find like very funny. It started in
nineteen seventy nine to honor individuals who have made significant
contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First
Amendment rights for Americans. According to the BBC, in nineteen
fifty four, he won a legal battle against the United
States Postal Service when the Postmaster General, Arthur Summerfield, refused

(33:49):
to deliver copies of Playboy on the grounds that it
was obscene. Hefteror told the court, we don't think Postmaster
Summerfield has any business editing magazines. We think you should
stick to delivering the mail. And Playboy actually won that case.

Speaker 2 (34:02):
Right and didn't he he had the again, we talked
about the fact that the mess act which happened, and
one of the big whistle blowers is one of the
people in the documentary. Uh, she was a higher up.
She was an original Playboy Bunny. She was on the centerfold.
Uh she was the first Latina uh Playboy Bunny to

(34:22):
be featured. And then she just like went up the
rinks in the corporation really thinking she was going to
be doing something, Like she was so excited that she
was a part of something that she can really work
for women's rights. But at one point, she finally had
enough after so much abuse. I believe with the murder
of one of the Playboy uh playmates of the year,

(34:43):
I believe, Uh, she kind of just had enough and
she couldn't figure out how to help the bunnies, as
you said, or the models, and so she came out
as a whistle blower, testifying in front of the court
about the acts that were happening under the Playboy executives
and that Hugh Hefner was very aware. And this included
things that didn't necessarily happen in the mansion but happened

(35:06):
under their watch, whether it was at these clubs or
whether it was at these like they had like lodges,
which I was like, oh, I didn't know that existed,
or they had like incidents where they were sending models
out and it wasn't actually for a modeling job. It's
literally trafficking them out totally.

Speaker 4 (35:32):
So this is something that I want to like be
super clear about, which is that people really talk a
lot about Hugh Hefner as this champion of free speech,
but the women in his orbit tell a very different
tale about the actual role of free speech for women
in his empire, right, Like, it kind of almost reminds
me of Elon Musk, who is like, oh, free speech,
free speech, unless you're somebody who works for me, and

(35:54):
you're the speech that you are talking about is starting
a union. Right So, Sondra Theodore, former Hefner girlfriend who
was accused Hefner of grooming young women and keeping tapes
on them to silence them, said, there is no freedom
of speech in the world of Playboy. Playmates have been
kept quiet since the beginning unless you're singing his or
Playboy's praises. Of course, no way the celebration can go

(36:16):
interrupt it. It's a farce. She added. This was after
Hugh Hefner died and everybody was rushing to be like, oh, well,
he was a real champion of free speech, and yeah,
I just don't.

Speaker 3 (36:25):
I don't believe that you.

Speaker 4 (36:27):
Should be lifting up somebody as a champion of free speech,
even if they do have awards, even if they did
have to defend themselves, if they are maintaining and benefiting
and profiting from an empire that relies on silencing women's
speech to do that, those two things are completely and
deeply incompatible to me, right.

Speaker 2 (36:48):
Right, there's the majority of what Playboy was representing was
incompatible to just human rights. Let's just be very clear,
like the overall freedoms and like protections of individuals, point blank.
So yeah, what I'm talking about is actually the mis Report,
which was published in nineteen eighty six. It was under

(37:09):
the Ronald Reagan, which I hate him, I don't love him,
but like the things did happen, but it was done
under his administration, and they did. They went after Playboy
in which I think like twenty three several like convenience
store chains stopped publishing and Playboy countersuit saying that they

(37:30):
had lost millions of dollars in revenue. And also, you're
taking away the freedom of speech from retailers as well
as individuals who want to purchase these magazines, so so
many things, and this kind of led way to what
I was talking about with the covering up of the magazines,
all you could see this is a title and you
can't look at it. And I think eventually we'll eventually

(37:51):
lead to like the ratings, the TVUMA type of things
as well. But this is like something that he went after.
And because he did go after this, people were like, yeah,
he's definitely championing for our eyes, not a capitalist wanting
all his money back, because again, it did hurt him
pretty badly. But during that time is when we saw

(38:13):
one insider come out and talk about why Playboy is
not what you think. It's not about this, and these
are things about like harassment and doing under duress, talking
about because we're talking about this later, like women being drugged,
women being pressured, because we know that several of the
models talked about the fact that they came in with

(38:34):
the strong understanding that all they would do is show
their movies there, show some breasts and that's fine, and
then eventually being talked into or co warced or told
that they would not get this job unless they were
fully fully naked, and so many things. And then I know,
like I fleeve with most of them, they were all
filmed and they were told and promised that they none

(38:57):
of this would be published. It was just for them,
It was just for our works, and everything is quote
unquote going on the cutting room floor. We just want
to do a behind the scenes type of very classy,
which I love it that that's what they talk too.
Is like it's very classy. Is a girl next door
type of shoes, so don't worry about it.

Speaker 4 (39:15):
Yeah, I mean it goes back to that manufactured, pr
crafted image of this being somehow wholesome as opposed to
what it actually is, which is the exploitation of women
both sexually and economically that is being maintained by surveillance, coercion, lies,
and drugs. I almost feel like if that was the

(39:39):
kind of enterprise that they were running and profiting from.

Speaker 3 (39:42):
Like okay, well that's what it is.

Speaker 4 (39:43):
But I guess where I sort of take issue more
broadly is like why did we all have to believe
that it was really wholesome and like good for the women?

Speaker 2 (39:51):
Right?

Speaker 3 (39:52):
Why can't it just be what it is?

Speaker 4 (39:53):
The bit about where we all come into it of
like oh, we should all be like seeing the behind
the scenes and like thinking it's really like a good
for the girls, that's what I kind of take issue
with or, you know, seeing the way that these women
who spoke up about what they saw, like you were
just talking about sam like seeing them be silenced and
then also having to praise you Hefner as a paragona

(40:15):
free speech, right, Right, That's what I can abide, right.

Speaker 2 (40:19):
Yeah. And as you were saying, people who were wanted
to tell their story were being told you can't tell
this story and being silenced by you Hefner and his team.

Speaker 3 (40:28):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (40:28):
Another voice that was in that documentary Jennifer Saganor, who
wrote this tell all book about her childhood, which she
largely spent at the Playboy Mansion in the nineties and
two thousands. Her dad was Hefner's live in doctor. Like
kind of a doctor. It sounds like kind of a doctor,
feel good kind of sitch. But she wrote a memoir
about the things that she had seen and about that experience.
She wrote, quote, I was silent when my memoir Playground,

(40:51):
came out. I believe there is truth to the hypocrisy
that should be noted by all the irony of being
silenced by the King of the First Amendment, the true
nature of our culture, and abuse of power in our society,
and her book was all about like really gross things
like grooming of underage girls, girls being given drugs sometimes

(41:12):
without their knowledge. That heard memoir Allegen's behavior that is criminal,
and she was silenced by Hugh Hefner when she tried
to speak out about this in her book.

Speaker 2 (41:22):
Right, her story alone in the documentary was horrifying. I
was very confused from John like she was there. She's
moved into the Playboy mage and had her own room
at the age of seven, like her dad brought her there.
She talked about how she would sit in Hugh Hefner's

(41:42):
lap during their game days and she really saw him
as a father figure, really thought he was so amazing.
And then at the age of fifteen, she realized she
was kind of infatuated with one of the playmates who
happened to be Hugh Hefner's girlfriend at the time, and
they started having a relationship. And by the way, this
woman was an adult, I believe she was twenty twenty one. Yes,

(42:05):
she was also groomed into that, but the a day
started a sexual relationship, and in that she alleges that
Hugh Hefner tried to get the girlfriend brought her into
his bedroom and then they started playing about I apologize
and the girl. The girlfriend started crying and ran out,

(42:25):
and he allegedly said to her, well, I guess this
is not happening now. I can't do this while she's crying.
So he was ready to have a sexual relationship. And
this was when she was at the age of seventeen
with someone she considered him being a father figure and
his best friend's daughter.

Speaker 4 (42:41):
Yeah, there is a lot of blurring, like you, like
you were saying earlier that like, oh, what do these
girls get out of it, Oh, well, a mentor figure,
And it's like, well, if you're having sex with your like,
there's a lot of blurring of roles here where if
you can you really have a mentor and be having
sex with him, should you be having sex with somebody
that you said that you considered a father figure. And

(43:03):
also if you're like not of the age of consent,
you obviously shouldn't. Like that's you know, a different thing.
But yeah, a lot of what was it sounds like
a lot of what was going on in the house
was this kind of real blurring of lines and boundaries
and the line of consent and legality, and it kind
of being sold back to us as like not this

(43:24):
big of a deal, like a fun party and environment
as opposed to an environment that is.

Speaker 3 (43:28):
Actually really toxic. That's right. I'm sorry, it is wild.
I mean, I don't want to like cast dispersions.

Speaker 4 (43:36):
It is wild to me that this guy moved his
kid into that house, right, It's just like I have
to have to say.

Speaker 2 (43:41):
That, Like there's so many things that I was confused
by that this situation, and I know this was like
the early like sixties, seventies, fifties, I don't know, like
sixty seventies. I think actually that I was like, yo,
why would you you know, you take part in this
and you're okay with bringing your daughter in there. And
then also I don't know if her father knew that

(44:04):
that situation happened, but that they didn't remove her from
the situation. She remained there until she left, I believe,
And when she wrote the book, she had some publicity,
and then she was supposed to go do a few more.
According to her, Hughefner called her. I was like, I'm
so proud of you for doing this book. Great job.
Can you tell me who else you were going to go?

Speaker 3 (44:24):
See?

Speaker 2 (44:25):
And then when she found out and she told him,
he called all of them and they all canceled on her.
So like that was essentially like, not, you're done this,
This book is over.

Speaker 3 (44:34):
A free speech. Everybody a champion express herself right.

Speaker 2 (44:40):
And the woman that I was talking about earlier was
Mickey Garcia. She was the one that really came in
the eighties and came in and testified saying, I have notes,
and she actually in the documentary pulls out boxes of
notes and memos and all the things of all the
complaints that she was getting from women, all the rape
allegations that were happening, all the situations where they were
not correctly protected, all of these things, and then all

(45:00):
them being swept under the rug. But she was the
one that really came through. It was like, nah, this
is bad. Y'all are doing some bad things. And she
alleges also that she was told that she was in
the rankings for being Playman of the Year, which the
way they pay is that you get a subsidential amount,
well not even substantial. During her time, it was fifteen thousand,
and that was like you get five thousand for the picture,

(45:22):
and it being published, you get another five thousand, uh
after it's run for a year, and then get another
five thousand like three years later, so literally you got
five thousand a year for like the next four years.
Maybe like it was an absurd way of holding money
over their head for this instead of just being paid upfront,
which they couldn't say no to that. They were like,
oh that at that point, that's not a lot of money,

(45:44):
not really in comparison to how often you got that, but.

Speaker 3 (45:47):
And what they're making from that from that.

Speaker 4 (45:50):
So it's like when you put it in context, it's
really not that.

Speaker 2 (45:52):
Much money, right and as well as so, she was
told that she was in the running for being Playman
of the Year, which was going to be like at
least double if not more than that, and that was
a huge deal and really big deal thing, but she
had to go meet up with Hugh Hefner for a
personal appointment in order to make that and when she
refused to do so, they didn't say she was like

(46:13):
the person who was trying to arrange all this, which
was a woman, was like, okay, that's on you. You
do you. When she announced who the Playmate of the
Year was, it definitely wasn't her, and of course, Garcia
came back with, like, I don't I'm not saying that
the other woman did do any of these things and
had this personal meeting in a way, whatever whatnot. But
I'm just saying that I was told this is what
I would need to do, or it was implied to

(46:33):
me that this is what I needed to do to
get to this point.

Speaker 4 (46:37):
Yeah, it's definitely clear that a lot of the machinations
of how this inner world worked is through things being
held over women's head, false promises that never come to fruition,
really kind of pitting women against each other, Like it's
so diabolical and toxic. The inner machinations of how this
whole system sustained.

Speaker 2 (46:57):
Itself, right, And it was interesting to me, just like
the timeline when you see things progressing and how gross
things got and the level of toxicity that remained, and
it really was like Mad Men era type of thing,
and then the sixties seventies, but it was also budding
heads with the feminist movement at the same time, which
is a whole different conversation, and again with the racial

(47:18):
equality movement. So he had so many other things that
he could point to. It felt like a distraction of like,
I'm so great at this that I can do these
things too, Like it seems like that kind of balance.

Speaker 4 (47:28):
I mean again, this is where it gets complicated in
that he did have concrete things that you could point
to and be like, oh, that was a good way
to push the conversation on race Ford right, Like he
published very sort of like at the time, progressive conversations
about race.

Speaker 3 (47:44):
You know.

Speaker 4 (47:45):
One of the first ever interviews they ever published was
an interview between Alex Haley, who was the author of
the book Roots, with the jazz musician Miles Davis and
It's all about This was in nineteen sixty two, and
it's all about like racial equality and sort of the
future of race in America. Martin Luther King's longest print
interview appeared in Playboy in January of nineteen sixty five.

(48:05):
Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefter's son, told The Telegraph that the
last article ever written by MLK before his assassination was
published by Playboy. He added that a special edition was
published in Braille for musician Ray Charles was blind. So
he also was a big backer of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow
Push Coalition, which was like a big racial Justice Organization.
Back in the sixties, Hefner donated twenty five thousand dollars

(48:28):
as a reward in order to help the comedian Dick
Gregory uncover the bodies of slain civil rights activists. So like,
he definitely did these things that pushed the conversation around
race forward.

Speaker 3 (48:41):
I would argue that.

Speaker 4 (48:42):
These things might have been done out of genuine desire
to shape conversations about race, But when he died, the
way the conversation was about these things makes me also
suspect that they were done with intention to make sure
that some of his less savory things be drowned out
by these things, these good things that he actually did.

Speaker 2 (49:03):
Do right right, And that's like that big part is
that he gave like this credence to the magazine. Insane
is not just naked women. Look at these articles. Look
at this like boundary pushing conversations we're having. We're talking
about LGBTQ rights, we're talking about racial equality, we're talking
about all these things that you want to hide, but

(49:24):
we are for the people like he.

Speaker 4 (49:26):
Really Yeah, but it's so funny that when you were
at your friend's house and watching the Playboy channel, it
wasn't like, we're gonna put on the Playboy channel. What
is this Alex Haley in conversation with Miles Davis about
racial equality.

Speaker 3 (49:39):
This is bad, let's watch it.

Speaker 2 (49:41):
I mean, it's become of a movie. Was like, no,
I get Playboy for the articles. That's that like joke
that people have about it. Honestly, the first time I
realized people and maybe because I was out of the world,
out of that world like that was very I was
very religious and so like that was all bad anyway
because it was naked women in general, bad bad, bad,
but like having the Like the first time I think

(50:04):
someone talked about the articles was something with George Clooney
related like he had published something and I can't even remember,
or about about some depth of a conversation that seemed
really political. And then I think John Mayer wrote an
article in there or was interviewed in there, talking about
how he was getting his sobriety and how he made
all these mistakes, like he was first like slamming the

(50:25):
women and then he came back later with now I'm sober.

Speaker 1 (50:28):
Sounds like it's very interesting, very interesting to me that
it's like, look at these women naked the articles.

Speaker 5 (50:38):
From what I'm hearing, and mostly men, I.

Speaker 2 (50:42):
Don't think you're wrong. I think he's probably right about
That's what I was thinking too, is like when he
talked about giving equal rights. Not that that's not because
we need more voices obviously, but it was more black
women doing their investigative reporters when they were talking about it. Also,
they did send one, uh and I think it's that
same comedian to a Neil like the newly founded American

(51:04):
Nazi Group to interview them, who had a gun entire
interview with him, to threaten him. I'm like, really, like
that's what you decided that was really gonna be cool?

Speaker 4 (51:16):
Yeah, I mean I do think like we could do
a whole, like like a whole conversation on the way
that Playboy understands and creates journalism and media, like apart.

Speaker 3 (51:27):
From the pornography.

Speaker 4 (51:29):
I actually the only copy of Playboy magazine that I
actually have in my house is one from the seventies
with an interview with.

Speaker 3 (51:34):
Gore Vidal, the novelist, and so like.

Speaker 4 (51:37):
They certainly weren't like publishing I think with intention trying
to publish sort of high minded, serious writing like Norman
Mail or things like that. I think to again like
manufacture this idea that if you had a playboy in
your home, you weren't just looking at pictures of breasts
or whatever. You were reading like serious, serious and writing

(52:00):
about serious topics.

Speaker 2 (52:12):
And I think like when we talked about like who
he was in the legend that he left behind, and
we we're probably talking about a lot of big insinuations
in this, like the when we talk about any of
the good things that he does, there's always a butt
like there's there This conversation cannot have that. So it's
like if you looked at our outline the way like

(52:32):
we had placed, it was like, oh, we're gonna try
to talk about these things, but then we'll come into
the scandal of it all. But then like not, it
just kind of all sets in. It can't do that.
There's no real way of like this is what he
did in the legacy, like blah blah blah, but this
is the legacy, and this is a part of his legacy,
Like the bad is also a part of his legacy,
and we have to forget it it just because it's

(52:53):
newly sought out or at least uh women have now
or people marginalized people have finally come about to talk
about it doesn't mean that it wasn't always there, you
know what I mean, Like this is a conversation which
again this is a side note of the thing that
I saw so much of in this documentary, the back
and forth even from the victims themselves and the survivors themselves,

(53:15):
talking about I know I should have done all these things.
I know I should have gone out. I'm smarter than this,
I should not have done this, this is my fault.
The many times I heard them say this is my
fault made me want to throw up. To be honest,
like I was, just like this is irritating, even to
the point that one of the ones who was Hugh
Hefner's friend and work and defends him to this day,

(53:36):
like she had a group for support for Hugh Hefner
on different pages and whatnot. She talked about the fact
that not Hugh Hefner, but one of his like ringleaders
kind of set her up to be raped by one
of the photographers that worked close in hand with Hugh Hefner,
and she came out getting mad and yelling at that

(53:58):
friend and saying, don't you shouldn't like she had told her,
you know, I'm leaving with you, don't leave me here
because she knew something bad would happen, and said, don't, like,
you should never do that to a woman, You never
do that to another woman. But previously, if you like
had a cut two moment in my head in which
she had like went after Holly, who was one of
the girlfriends from The Girl next Door, probably the lead girlfriend,

(54:20):
probably the most like famous of the ones, like people
who know nothing about Hugh Hefner or the play why
I knew who she was? Holly Madison had written her
memoir and in the documentary, she's like, how dare she
She was not unhappy? Why was she stay there? Why
would she do these things? Why is she's lying now
because she's she's taking his name like she was mad,
But she was also the same person who had an

(54:41):
experience that just wasn't Hugh Hefner personally related, but losing
that connection that there's a reason that culture was okay,
there's a reason another woman who worked very closely with
Hugh Hefner literally set you up to be raped, and
she could not connect that even today. And that's kind
of that conversation that we like it. It's so jarring

(55:05):
to see. And I don't know if she noticed it.
I doubt she did. After I don't know if you
watched the entire thing, but like herself, the woman that
was on the documentary. But that's the level of like
conversations that people really really forget that there's a connection here.

Speaker 3 (55:19):
Oh my god, totally. So the way that you clocked
that is so insightful.

Speaker 4 (55:24):
And from listening to a lot of the Girls Next
Level podcast and from reading a lot of the memoirs
that I think that is still an undercurrent where I
do think a lot of the women who were in
this orbit, whether they believe that something coercive happened to
them or not, I think a lot of them are

(55:45):
still doing currently doing the work of like processing that
and put and like contextualizing it. And I think that
when you are steeped in this world that is really
about putting women in against each other, surveillance and exploitation,
Like a lot of the women talk about, everybody in

(56:06):
their orbit is also kind of like vying for their job,
and so you don't know who to trust a lot
of surveillance.

Speaker 3 (56:11):
I think that that kind of environment would make any would.

Speaker 4 (56:15):
Be tough for anybody, And I really see the ways that,
like even today, I'm not sure that they have truly
processed what that has done to them and how that
has colored their own internal understanding of what happened, because
I really see a lot of them sort of doing
a lot of that work in public, and I think
for anybody that would be really tough.

Speaker 2 (56:33):
Right absolutely that what really was the back and forth
of like them not being able to fully blame the
perpetrator and not fully understanding the depth the things that
have gone through, because again, this is that same level,
and I really want to highlight for conservative people or
at least like those who would be very like conspiratory people,

(56:57):
like this is grooming, This is trafficking. If you want
want to know what we are talking about and what
grooming and trafficking truly looks like this is it because
these women have been told and in like till today,
like people still find Playboy as a mecca or the
all like final realm of being sexy and a professional.

(57:20):
Like you see so many athletes coming into like I
can be both these things and these are going to
meld my image into this beautiful way of whatever whatnot,
which you know, we'll come back to the fact that
that's taken a long time to get to there. And
they want to credit Playboy for this, this level of
acceptance as being a feminine woman, because that's what Playboy
chouts as well as an athlete, like these things as

(57:42):
a way of opening up their image. But what we're
looking at here is that young women being told, oh
my god, you're so pretty, You're so beautiful. We really
want to help you grow your career. We really want
to help you do these things. If you want to
do these test shoes, we're only going to do things
that make you feel comfortable. Oh you're uncomfortable. Here, let
me give you some a little bit of a little

(58:03):
bit of vodka here, it'll be good. You gonna will
helps you put to ease. We're gonna get you here.
Look at this picture. Isn't this beautiful of you? Oh
my god? We want here to meet somebody, meet so
and so. And the love bombing, which one of the
older playmates who she was like the star essentially of
the first season, Sonya Theodore, who was one of first

(58:24):
girlfriends in the mansion, talked about that this level of
like conversation and grooming and coming into being like, Oh,
you're so loved, You're so adored, You're the best thing
for me, and everybody talking about how she was so
in love with with how hef was so in love
with her, Like again, uh, these couple people would be
like they should have gotten married. He truly loved her,

(58:46):
She truly loved him and all these things to the
point that her daughter was like mad at her mom
at first for doing these types of documentaries because she
didn't understand the depth of abuse that she because she
was told by her mother that have really changed their life,
really put them into such a better place, really loved
and cared for her. But in her story, she talks

(59:10):
about like really like loving him and really wanting to
do these things for him and being there for him
and experiencing these new things and getting away from her
ugly past into all of a sudden being like, oh,
I have to recruit other girls to be a part
of this, begging other girls to be a part of this,
so she didn't know she didn't have to suffer alone,

(59:30):
like she talks about that, to the point that she
also talks about like being handed over to his guy
friends and her telling him this hurts me, This dude
hurts me. I don't make me do this, and he
just laughing at her and moving on like stuff like that,
like this is like, this is trafficking. This this is greaming.
Let me show you what this is. And this is

(59:51):
happening to what you see as a quintessential you know, victim,
this white woman who has like it and but many
people when after her saying she chose this life so
like those who's spout trafficking and blad trafficking is awful,
we need to stop trafficking. Also doesn't believe that this
is trafficking.

Speaker 3 (01:00:09):
Oh my god.

Speaker 4 (01:00:10):
So you're talking about the experience of his first girlfriend.
I have read the memoir of I guess like his
last girlfriend, the woman who was married.

Speaker 3 (01:00:17):
To him when he dies.

Speaker 2 (01:00:18):
Yes, she just released that.

Speaker 3 (01:00:20):
I recommended it was a very good read.

Speaker 4 (01:00:22):
I know that when her memoir was released, people in
the Playboy Orbert were like, oh, she's just lying, Like
she shows this life.

Speaker 3 (01:00:27):
But toward the end, I mean, you're talking about trafficking.

Speaker 4 (01:00:32):
Toward the end of the book, so she describes what
it's like to be in the mansion, which it just
sounds awful.

Speaker 3 (01:00:39):
I want to give some tidbits about it, but it
just it just sounds awful.

Speaker 4 (01:00:43):
But when she decides like I don't want to do
this anymore, I want to leave, the way that she
has to get out because of the way money works
within the mansion. But women are giving an allowance of
a thousand dollars a week. It's this stop ritual where
they have to go to helf and ask for the
money and he's like, well, I guess you've been a
good girl.

Speaker 3 (01:01:03):
Here you go, and they it's a thousand dollars cash.

Speaker 4 (01:01:06):
They're not allowed to really do work to earn money
outside of Playboy.

Speaker 3 (01:01:11):
Every now and then they can do like appearances or something, but.

Speaker 4 (01:01:14):
All of that really has to go through Playboy unless
they do like a centerfold or an image, and then
they get like a little bit of a talent, a
little bit of a talent feed side note, the women
who were on Girls next Door did not get paid.
Didn't get paid. The first person to bring up like
they should be paid was Kendra, and that was after
the second season. Hugh Hefter got four hundred thousand dollars

(01:01:35):
an episode and was barely in the show and to like,
you know, the only way that these women could really
make money was through Playboy, and so Crystal when she
was like I've had enough of this, she basically started
kind of like scrolling away her money and saving it
up and like moving her stuff out of the house
little by little. And the way that she has to

(01:01:55):
get out is the way that you would have to
get out of a situation that you are not really
in consensually. Before I read her memoir, I was like, Oh,
it does sound like this is coercive or whatever whatever.
She was being low key kept against her will when
she had finally had enough. At one point, she recounts
that when she was trying to like physically leave, she
had to be like, oh, I'm just going to the
store to get some tampons, and then she had to

(01:02:18):
get in her car and like split and that when
they realized that she was trying to leave, Hugh Hefner
was like, don't let her leave. And then it occurs
to her She's like, oh, I'm actually genuinely being held
against my will a little bit. And so when you
say when you use words like trafficking, I think people
think that we're using it as a euphemism.

Speaker 3 (01:02:33):
But if you are in a living situation that you have,
you can.

Speaker 4 (01:02:38):
Only leave via secretly hiding money away and lying about
where you're going. And when when you try to leave,
somebody physically restrains you. You tell me what that sounds like.

Speaker 3 (01:02:48):
You know, right?

Speaker 2 (01:02:50):
But that's the problem. Is like when we talk about
exploitation here, an exploitation, by the way, is a nice
word for this, Like I really wish like and we will,
I think, actually go deeper into it because like again, kidnapping, coercaling, trafficking,
those were the things that were happening. Rape, sexual assault, drugging,
all of these things were happening in this era and

(01:03:12):
in connection to so I think this is the biggest thing.
Is like part of the conversation that people want to
have is that it wasn't him. He didn't know what
was going on. But this dude was a control free
because the cameras everywhere. In fact, Tony Curtis, who legendary
actor part of that, didn't know and actually came in
and I believe, I don't know if he sued him.

(01:03:33):
I think he did sue him to get any video.

Speaker 5 (01:03:37):
That would.

Speaker 2 (01:03:39):
Have of him because he freaked out, did not realize
what was happening, Like, so we know those were there.
That has been accounted for. That is a fact. Every
single person that worked there, every single person that went
there for a long period of time, knew those whore existed.
After a certain amount of time, not at first, not.

(01:04:00):
It finally came out and people started figuring out, oh, oh,
he's keeping tabs because there was a power play. It
was a kink and a power play. And it's interesting
that when we talk about the exploitation, because it can
range from anything to just using photos of women to
make money off of it. Two, which is bad enough,

(01:04:22):
to once again sending them to a night, remote isolated
area to a man who has asked to essentially buy them,
which included Trump by the way, and to use them
allegedly allegedly, and to the fact that women not knowing
this was happening. So when they got there thinking they're
going in for a modeling job. And the story with

(01:04:45):
Trump was she was told that she was going to
the Tropicana campaign, was going to be modeling, shows up
and she's like, oh, sitting and talking to him, having
dinner with him, doing all those things, and he was
like she was like, okay, so let's when why I
start this. And he was like, look, that's not happening.
That's not a thing. You're not here for modeling. And
she was like excuse me, and she called somebody and

(01:05:07):
said I'm not doing this and she immediately left. She
did say nothing happened, but that was the setup, like
he she had gotten set up to be a sex
thing for Trump against her will, like being co warced,
like hoping that they could just scare her into it,
and that happened.

Speaker 3 (01:05:24):
And we have a word for that.

Speaker 4 (01:05:26):
Someone who is being coerced against their will into doing
sexual activities with somebody that they don't want to do
that with. The law has a word for that. It's trafficking.
That's not like us being hysterical or something.

Speaker 3 (01:05:42):
That's that's the word.

Speaker 4 (01:05:44):
And so I feel like when we yeah, I just
I think it's easy to make it seem like we're
like like talking about this in a way that is exaggerated.
But you tell to mean what that sounds.

Speaker 2 (01:05:54):
Like, right exactly, And that's exactly the conversation is, like
y'all never really say it, because I don't really think
they mention trafficking in the documentary and I'm freaking out
of the social worker, going that's the epitome. This is
what's happening. You have bought yourself a group of women
through a promise of fame and money to do your

(01:06:16):
bidding to get power or money from other beings, and
they have no controller say except they are owed to
this to you in their minds, in the minds of
the power to be that they owe this to you
because you're trying to do these things for them. Maybe right,
they played the.

Speaker 4 (01:06:31):
Game, and within the context of the women like Holly Bridget, Kendra, Crystal,
the twins Christina and Carisa, it's a lot more explicit
that this is an exchange of sex for money within
the context of like the Girl's next door ecosystem, like
the like all of the girls are clear we are

(01:06:53):
expected to have nightly orgies on film with Hugh and
we are paid one thousand dollars a week allowance for that,
and we get room and board for that.

Speaker 3 (01:07:02):
Like that is that is much more explicit for the
women who are living.

Speaker 4 (01:07:05):
In the house, and it's curious to me how people
would then have trouble believing that outside of the house.
For the women who were just sort of in the
orbit in a perfheral way. How's that kind of same
dynamic would still be there? Like, I'm like, this is
the drill. Obviously, this is the drill. The women who
lived within the house say, this is what happened. They
had a very clear understanding of this as a kind

(01:07:27):
of job where the thing that they had to do
was sexual favors. Why would that Why would that not
be the case for the women who were just modeling
or the women who were peripherally in the Playboy orbit?

Speaker 2 (01:07:38):
Right? Right? So I was saying that I had the
names of the girlfriends, and I have to tell you
that the title of the article, which is how from
Hollywoodlife dot Com puts it, Hugh Hefner and the women
who loved him, and I think the chunk of them
were like, we didn't love him. We were just told
that we would get money. Yeah, which I'm like, why
would you post it that way? And I say, they

(01:08:01):
actually write that for the twins. By the way, the
twins were nineteen years old when they were flown there.
They had like, sure they were they had had sex before,
but they never had sex together. And being with Hugh
Hefner was the first time because they were living his fantasy.

Speaker 1 (01:08:14):
Oh so I think we're going to have to turn
this into a two parter. It's clear that we have
a lot to say surprise, surprise, feminists have a lot
to say about Hugh Hefner.

Speaker 5 (01:08:26):
So we'll come back with the part two. But in
the meantime, bridget where can the good listeners find you?

Speaker 3 (01:08:32):
You can find me at I Hate Hugh Hefner dot org.
Just kidding, you can listen to my podcast. There are
no girls on the Internet.

Speaker 4 (01:08:40):
It's important to deconstruct all of the ways that media
and technology has been used to exploit, and we do that,
and so I'm thankful that you all do that too
and gave me the space to really lay that bear
when it comes to Playboy and Hugh Hefner and listeners.

Speaker 1 (01:08:54):
If you would like to contact us, you can. You
can emails it Stephani your mom Stuff at iHeartMedia dot com.
You can find it on Twitter at mom Stuff podcast,
or on Instagram and TikTok at stuff when Never told you.
We're also on YouTube. We have a tea public store,
and we have a book you can get wherever you
get your books. Thanks as always too, our super producer Christina,
our executive producer Maya, and your contributor Joey. Thank you
and thanks to you for listening stuff never told you

(01:09:15):
the production of I Heart Radio. For more podcast with
my Heart Radio, you can check out the heart Radio app,
Apple Podcasts, or where you listen to your favorite shows,

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