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‘Secrets of Playboy’ Teases the ‘Ugly’ Side of Hugh Hefner’s Beautiful World

Since the moment Playboy first leapt off the pages and into the cultural vernacular, controversy has followed. From founder Hugh Hefner’s contentious decision to publish photos of a naked Marilyn Monroe in the magazine’s inaugural edition to the bizarre and often-mystical exploits undertaken in the infamous ‘grotto’, Playboy, its entities and personalities have been front page news. But for all the criticism, Playboy – the man, has been left relatively unharmed, but that may all be about the change. The forthcoming A&E series Secrets of Playboy aims to shine a light on the “ugly” side of the Playboy founder’s seemingly “beautiful world”.

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The new 10-episode docu-series comes by way of A&E and is set to dive into the untold story of the Playboy empire. “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,” the official synopsis reads. “Unravelling the glamourous mythology created by the brand over several decades, the series features archival footage and exclusive interviews with insiders from all facets of the Playboy world, many sharing their stories for the first time.”

The new Playboy documentary trailer sets the scene for some explosive revelations. In the years since his death, fans have defended Hefner’s brand of entertainment, however, recent cultural events have led many to question whether Playboy was a form of sexual liberation or exploitation. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the mystique surrounding the Playboy founder has turned more sinister, and in Secrets of Playboy, former girlfriend and Girls Next Door star Holly Madison spills the beans.

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The series includes interviews with Madison — whose 2015 memoir Down the Rabbit Hole was an openly critical account of life at the Playboy Mansion, as well as fellow ex-girlfriend and Girls Next Door star Bridget Marquardt. A&E also confirmed that “Bunny Mother” PJ Masten, ex-girlfriend Sondra Theodore and members of Hefner’s staff and inner circle, including his bodyguard, butler and personal valet will feature in docu-series.

“With the creation of the brand, Hugh Hefner defined the sexual revolution through the male perspective. His progressive views advanced rights across a wide spectrum of social causes, allowing for the freedom of sexual expression. Yet intertwined with the glossy facade of a brand that seemingly celebrated women was a more sinister reality that for decades allowed nefarious conduct to flourish,” A&E wrote. “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.”

While no official release date has been set, A&E confirmed that Secrets of Playboy will premiere on the channel in early 2022.

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