Secrets of Playboy: Former Playboy Bunnies Come for Hefner’s Detractors

Former Bunny Mother PJ Masten says she's received hate mail and threats from fellow former bunnies

American publisher Hugh Hefner arrives at London Airport from Chicago with an entourage of Playboy Bunnies, 26th June 1966. He is in the capital for the opening of the London Playboy Club on Park Lane.
Apparently the late Hugh Hefner still has a devoted army of Playboy Bunnies
Ted West/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prior to the release of A&E’s bombshell docuseries, Secrets of Playboy, the women who spoke publicly about negative experiences with Hugh Hefner and his brand were few and far between. Predictably, the ones who did come forward were ridiculed, disparaged and accused of lying for publicity. Unfortunately, while the docuseries has revealed the stories of several more women whose allegations of misconduct span multiple decades, those women are no less vulnerable to backlash from the late Hefner’s devoted army of still loyal supporters.

PJ Masten, a former Playboy Bunny and Bunny Mother who worked at the Playboy clubs in the 1970s and early ’80s, claims she’s been subjected to a deluge of hate mail and threats from fellow former bunnies since her allegations against Hef and his empire first aired on the series back in January. Masten, who features prominently throughout the series, has opened up about the humiliation and assault Playboy Bunnies endured while working at the clubs, including instances of rape and abuse that Masten and fellow members of Playboy’s “clean-up crew” were responsible for covering up.

As a result, Masten says she’s received an onslaught of angry messages from former Playboy Bunnies who remain among Hefner’s supporters. “‘You’re a piece of s—. You’re a liar. You’re a f— this and f— that,’” Masten told the LA Times, recalling the unsavory Facebook messages she’s received since the series’ premiere. “It’s all from bunnies,” she added. “These are 85-year-old women running around with their bunny ears on, and I’m bursting their bubble.”

Of course, Masten herself has doled out her share of shame and vitriol towards fellow Playboy detractors, including Hefner’s former girlfriend and Girls Next Door star, Holly Madison. Madison was one of the first and most prominent Playboy alums to come forward about her negative experiences with the brand its founder, penning a best-selling memoir in 2015 in which she detailed a toxic and controlling culture at the Playboy Mansion. Madison has been no stranger to backlash from Hef loyalists and insiders since publishing her memoir, including Masten. Speaking to Insider shortly after Secrets of Playboy premiered in January, Masten claimed Madison and her Girls Next Door co-stars Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt cheapened the Playboy Bunny image by donning the iconic uniforms once reserved exclusively for waitresses at the Playboy clubs. (It’s worth noting that by Madison’s tenure at the Mansion in the 2000s, all the Playboy clubs had been shuttered and the Bunny costumes were routinely worn by Playboy models and other women associated with the brand at events and promotional appearances.)

“They did not earn those ears,” Masten told Insider. “Their behavior detracted from the Playboy Bunny image.” Masten went on to call Madison “a paid girlfriend” who was thus unworthy of the precious bunny costume. “It really is very offensive to the thousands and thousands of former Bunnies that are out there. We earned those ears.”

Obviously Masten and many other women associated with the Playboy brand are probably still navigating conflicting feelings and memories of their time with Playboy, and they deserve patience and respect as they do so. But if Masten is currently calling out fellow Playboy detractors from the pedestal of her own former Bunny status, it’s no surprise she’s getting the same treatment from fellow Bunnies still trapped under Playboy’s spell.

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