Surprise! Turns Out the Playboy Mansion Was Full of Drugs

A new clip from the forthcoming series "Secrets of Playboy" reveals Quaaludes were routinely used for sex during Hugh Hefner's heyday

Hugh Hefner surrounded by women in 1986. a new docuseries claims Quaaludes were commonly used at Playboy Mansion.
Life at Playboy in 1986
Paul Harris/Getty Images

We’re getting closer to learning the Secrets of Playboy as the forthcoming A&E docuseries nears its January premiere, and newly released clips from the show are providing a glimpse into the dark truths some of those secrets may hold. For Girls Next Door fans who have followed the brand in the aftermath of the buzzy Playboy reality show, however, most of those secrets aren’t so secret.

In recent years, multiple women who were part of the Playboy brand in the ’90s and early 2000s have come forward publicly with revelations about the dark side of their seemingly glamorous lives at the Playboy mansion, most notably Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend and Girls Next Door star Holly Madison, who lived at the mansion from 2001 until 2009. In her 2015 memoir Down the Rabbit Hole, Madison reveals a number of unflattering details about life with Hefner, including the fact that he routinely plied young women with Quaaludes, which the Playboy founder called “thigh openers.”

Other ghosts of Playboy past confirm Madison’s story in a new clip from Secrets of Playboy, detailing the rampant drug use at the mansion. Lisa Loving Barrett, who worked as Hefner’s assistant at the Los Angeles mansion from 1977 to 1989, says Quaaludes were used as “leg spreaders” throughout the Playboy community. “That is what the whole point of them was,” Barrett says of the prescription sedatives that were used as a popular recreational drug in the ’70s and ’80s. “They were a necessary evil, if you will, to the partying.”

According to Barrett, she and multiple other Playboy staffers had prescriptions for Quaaludes in their name, as well as Hefner. “That enabled certainly four, and sometimes five, different prescriptions for the same medication, to feed the [Playboy] machine,” she said in the clip.

Another ex-girlfriend, former Playmate Sondra Theodore, also confirmed the drug use, and exactly what those drugs were used for. “Hef pretended he wasn’t involved in any hard drug use at the mansion, but that was just a lie,” Theodore said in the same clip. “Quaaludes, down the line, were used for sex.”

According to Theodore, the buzz from half a Quaalude could make for a “lovely” sexual experience, but any more than that could make users “pass out.” Naturally, “the men knew this,” said Theodore, “that they could get girls to do just about anything they wanted if they gave them a Quaalude.”

Secrets of Playboy is set to premiere January 24 on A&E.

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