The widow of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner admits Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Crystal herself were traumatized by life at the mansion
There’s a lot of righteous anger seething out of Crystal Hefner’s new memoir, Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself as she looks back on the world of Playboy that has left many of the women who were part of Hugh Hefner’s former harem picking up the pieces.
“A lot of women that have been in Hef’s orbit, they’ve lost their sparkle,” Crystal tells PEOPLE. “It has caused people trauma.”
Crystal’s the latest of Hef's girlfriends who have written or spoken out about the damage caused by the man who claimed he liberated women through sparking the sexual revolution.
It’s been almost seven years since Hugh Hefner’s death and his third and final wife Crystal, now 37, explores her own traumas and backs up claims made by previous Hefner girlfriends in her memoir, out now. She spoke to PEOPLE for a story in this week’s issue about the world she entered when she was just 21 and Hefner was 60 years older.
Three months after she moved into the Playboy mansion in 2008, Crystal found herself not only stepping into the No. 1 girlfriend role left vacant when Holly Madison left but also starring with teen twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon in the final season of The Girls Next Door.
The twins later came out with their own allegations against Hefner, as reported in PEOPLE. Crystal agrees that it was “creepy” that Hefner had them as girlfriends and reflected on how girls as young as 11 would write to Hefner asking if they could come and live with him in the mansion after seeing episodes of the show.
“He would tell them to wait until they were 18,” Crystal says. “It’s horrifying how The Girls Next Door glorified it. It’s sad and it’s awful.”
Holly, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt had all moved on and out by the time Crystal arrived on the scene in 2009 and she was expected to take up Holly's mantle. Crystal says the film crew immediately wanted to set up a contentious relationship between her and Holly, Hef's previous main girlfriend.
“I’d never met Holly in my life,” Crystal writes in her book. But when she was told to recite the line, “I’m not the new Holly. She’s the old me,” she did it.
When the episode aired, Holly thought Crystal was out to tear her down and tabloids wrote about them being in a catfight. And while it's true they have not always been the best of friends, Crystal has supported her when the rubber hit the road. After Holly made claims about Hefner blackmailing her with compromising photos, Crystal confirmed the existence of not only those photos, but thousands of photos of other women who had been to the mansion.
Hefner always carried a disposable camera with him, Crystal writes, and he took photos of the women everywhere. "We were disposable too. I watched as those cameras filled up with the most incriminating images,” she writes. “Rolls and rolls of potential blackmail, if he ever wanted to use it that way.”
She spoke out later about finding a stash of those photos while decluttering the mansion.
“I opened just the top drawer of the desk and found all these naked photos for former Girls Next Door and friends that were carelessly thrown in there for anyone to just look at,” Crystal says. “Hef was not showing those women much respect.”
Crystal says she ripped up all the photos she found and threw them away. "I look through the scrapbooks and it makes me angry,” she adds. “It’s just a trophy book of people [Hef] slept with interspersed with really relevant, culturally significant documents.”
For more on Crystal Hefner, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
Although she’s not close with any of the former playmates, she still has some contact with Kendra. “Maybe she’ll come to one of my book signings,” Crystal says.
And she’s up for a reunion with her Hef girlfriend predecessors.
“I’m like, we need to get together and do an anti-Girls Next Door,” she says. “Maybe one day we’ll get along. We shared a unique experience together.”
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