The widow of original Playboy Hefner opens up in her memoir about the lack of intimacy in their relationship. "I think he loved me as much as it was possible."
Could the man who sparked America’s sexual revolution have been bad in the sack?
That’s the claim from Crystal Hefner, the young widow of cultural icon Hugh Hefner, who wrote about her life (in the bedroom and out of it) in her memoir Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself. The former Crystal Harris, now 37, spoke to PEOPLE about the world she entered when she was just 21 and Hefner was a full 60 years her senior.
The sun was setting on the Playboy empire when the third and final Mrs. Hugh Hefner arrived on the scene in Oct. 2008, and she was there as they dismantled the mansion soon after Hugh took his last in his bedroom in 2017 at the age of 91.
That bedroom proved to be less wild, unbridled passion pit and more a programmed sex farce stage.
The first time Crystal met Hefner was when she attended a Halloween party at the Los Angeles mansion and was quickly tapped to go up for a group sex session with the master of the manor.
There was no kissing, romance or intimacy in that bedroom, either on her first night or the subsequent evenings over the course of almost nine years of being one of Hef's famous girlfriends to his lawfully wedded wife.
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“This was a well-oiled and well-practiced sequence of events. One that went the same exact way every time,” Crystal writes. “Picking some girls from the party and bringing them up. Changing into the uniform for the job: silk pajamas. The dimming of the lights. The music. The porn. Passing the pot. And then the sex.”
Hef didn't even look at her when they had sex
Even that first night, Crystal says that sex was “odd and robotic.”
“Like Hef was just going through the motions of something that had once been fun and sexy,” she writes. “Or maybe it was never fun and sexy.”
She explains that no one was going to try to give Hefner advice on anything, particularly when it came to sex. “I think when you have so much money and power and so many 'yes people' around you, you just stick with your own narrative in your mind,” Crystal says. “And then everyone else just goes along with it.”
Hugh never once looked at her when it was her turn to climb aboard; only a bored stare upward at the strategically placed mirror overhead. “There was nothing sexy about it,” she writes. “It was about power and control and leverage. It was a performance. I was auditioning for a part.”
Over the years, she marveled about the lack of awareness Hugh had about her and his partners. In the book, she wonders if he really thought everyone was enjoying it. "He seemed less sex-savvy than some of the teenage boys I’d been with years ago,” she writes. ”It was clear to me Hef had never taken a moment in his entire life to figure out how to please someone else.”
As for her late husband, she writes, "I think he loved me as much as it was possible for him to love anyone." That includes his own four children.
“Hef’s dynamic with family was interesting,” Crystal says. “He would always tell me there wasn’t much love in his house growing up. Not between his parents or his parents toward him. So I don’t think he fully got it in terms of being in a relationship or being a father.”
She played the same song every time they had sex
Crystal says she actually preferred group sex over just being alone with Hefner, who relied on sexual enhancement drugs. She writes about the "little blue pill nights" when the couple would have sex and he needed music on. Every time they got intimate, she put the same Madonna song on repeat. She says if she put on only one specific song "then no other music will be contaminated by this place."
Crystal says the sex stopped in 2014 "and I was relieved. There was no more bringing girls home, no more performances," she adds. "For years, I had been keeping up the Playboy charade for Hef, for the public."
The Playboy Mansion had a reputation, a legacy as one of the first sex-positive liberated places.
“Now I wondered if that place had ever really existed,” she says.
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