Secrets of Playboy explores the glamorous empire Hugh Hefner created and delves into the Playboy empire through a modern lens. Across ten hours, the series delves into the complex world Hugh Hefner created and examines its far-reaching consequences on our culture’s view of power and sexuality.
More than four years after Hefner’s death, insiders, colleagues, executives, Playmates, and employees from all levels of the brand share the full story of what life within the Playboy world was truly like.
Hugh Hefner defined the sexual revolution and was a champion for many progressive ideas yet intertwined with the glossy facade a much darker side of the Playboy empire is exposed. This series contains allegations of wrongdoing over decades by Hugh Hefner and others associated with him and the Playboy brand.
The brand seemingly celebrated women but created an environment where nefarious conduct flourished including claims of sexual assault and drug abuse, and prostitution, suicide and even murder lurked in the shadows.
The series explores how the Playboy machine was a powerful force that, at its worst, manipulated women in a toxic environment, silencing their voices, pitting them against one another and opening the door to sexual predators.
Stream new episodes of Secrets of Playboy every week on Crime+Investigation PLAY.
Episode 1: The Playboy Legacy
Hugh Hefner sold himself as a champion of free speech who created the Playboy brand to set off a sexual revolution that would liberate men and women alike, but over the years he used Playboy to manipulate women to compete for his favour and silenced whistle-blowers.
Episode 2: The Girl Next Door
In the 2000s, Hugh Hefner reinvented himself and his brand through the runaway success of the reality show "Girls Next Door," starring his girlfriend’s Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson, and number one girlfriend Holly Madison. The series made mansion life seem like a fairy tale, but Holly and Bridget reveal that the reality was a life full of rigid rules, gaslighting, and infighting.
Episode 3: The Bunnies & The Cleanup Crew
The Playboy Bunny was the most famous sex symbol of the 20th century. Playboyhired the most attractive women in the world to don the ears and tail by promising an environment where they would always be protected. But outside of the clubs, at the Playboy Mansion itself, and in the company of Hefner's VIP customers, the Bunnies faced dangers and abuses that were covered up by the Playboy "clean-up crew."
Episode 4: The Price of Loyalty
This episode explores the 1970s DEA investigation into Hefner, Playboy, and drugs through the lens of two women who lived and worked at Playboy: Hefner's right-hand woman Bobbie Arnstein, who committed suicide while being investigated for drug trafficking, and Playboy Bunny Adrienne Pollack, who died of a drug overdose in 1973.
Episode 5: The Corporate Game
The Playboy corporate world was billed as a welcoming place for women, but Playmate and eventual Director of Playboy Promotions Miki Garcia and Bunny Mother PJ Masten reveal the rampant sexual harassment they faced as they attempted to climb the corporate ladder.
Episode 6: The Big Playboy Lie
A roundtable of Playmates recount how decades of women modelled for the magazine because they believed the Playboy promise that becoming a Playmate would lead to a lucrative career in a safe environment. Instead, many faced a hostile environment rampant with drugs, pornography, and prostitution. The circumstances led Miki Garcia to testify against Playboy before the Reagan Administration's 1980s Commission on Pornography.
Episode 7: Predators’ Ball
From the earliest parties at the Mansion, celebrities like Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby were a big part of the allure of the Playboy brand. But Hugh Hefner kept some Hollywood A-listers happy at the expense of the women.
Episode 8: The Shadow Mansions
During the 1990s, Playmates like Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith had reached peak fame and young women flocked to Los Angeles in hopes of being the next centrefold. Yet for those not deemed attractive enough for the magazine, men in Hefner's inner circle set up "shadow" mansions where women were exploited.
Episode 9: The Circus
After decades of silence, Hefner's former number one girlfriend Sondra Theodore shares her story detailing how she was groomed by him to participate in his increasingly abusive sex life. Sondra's testimony shines a spotlight on Hefner's mechanisms for controlling and breaking women.
Episode 10: Predator Number One
In public, Hefner continually professed that he wanted to protect his "girls next door." But he continually failed. Never-before heard stories from Playmate Susie Krabacher, mansion employees Stefan and Stella Tetanbaum, and Sondra Theodore reveal the dark truth that Hefner was the Mansion's Predator Number One.