Secrets of Playboy: Were Playmates Required to Sleep With Hugh Hefner?

In the latest episode of the A&E docuseries, multiple women claim aspiring centerfolds were encouraged to sleep with Hef

Jayde Nicole and Hugh Hefner poses with playmates at the 2008 Playmate Of The Year presentation at the Playboy Mansion on May 8, 2008, in Beverly Hills, California.
Hugh Hefner posing with Playmates at the 2008 Playmate of the Year presentation.
Toby Canham/Getty Images

Hugh Hefner’s rumored sexual liaisons with the women who posed in his magazine have long been the stuff of Playboy legend. Back in the day, since-debunked rumors claimed the star symbols that used to appear on the cover of each magazine corresponded with the number of times Hefner had bedded its centerfold. Considering the majority of the Playboy founder’s girlfriends were either Playmates already or posed for centerfolds after they started dating Hef, it was only natural to assume he was having his way with plenty of other women who appeared in Playboy as well. Back then, the assumption that Hefner was bedding the beauties he put in his magazine went hand in hand with the Playboy brand, and Hefner’s image as the omnipotent ruler of his hedonistic empire. It was something assumed and acknowledged with a nudge and a wink: of course Hugh Hefner had to be having sex with the small army of gorgeous women he had assembled, and of course hundreds more were throwing themselves at him just for a chance to grace those pages themselves.

These days, however, the late Hefner’s reputation is becoming an increasingly tarnished one, recasting the famed sexual liberator as a sexual predator. While we may have once hailed Hefner as an enviable Casanova with the most beautiful women in the world at his disposal, an ongoing re-examination of Hefner’s Playboy empire is shedding new light on the expectations of the women in its orbit. In the most recent episode of A&E’s bombshell docuseries, Secrets of Playboy, multiple women with connections to the brand claimed Playmates and aspiring centerfolds were encouraged to have sex with Hefner, and may be subject to consequences if they failed to comply. Women vying for the brand’s coveted Playmate of the Year title reportedly faced even more pressure to secure the award by getting intimate with Hef.

“When I first arrived, it seemed like most of the women who were coming through and testing for Playmate felt like they had to sleep with him to get Playmate of the Year,” said Girls Next Door star Holly Madison, who dated Hefner from 2001 to 2008. “Not every single one of them did, there were a few exceptions, but I think a lot of people felt like they had to.”

Unsurprisingly, that trend seems to pre-date Madison’s tenure at the Playboy mansion by several decades. “In order to get Playmate of the year, you had to do some pretty wild things up in the bedroom with Hefner and his friends,” said PJ Masten, a Playboy Bunny and Bunny Mother 1972 to 1982. “You had to vie for that position.”

Micki Garcia, who was a Playmate in January of 1973, recalled being encouraged to “vie” for that position herself. “I was extremely nervous because I just knew that if I didn’t go to bed with him, I wasn’t going to get Playmate of the Year,” Garcia said. “I had that in my gut. I wasn’t for sure, I just thought, if he asks and I say no, there goes that money out the door.”

Ultimately, Garcia said she refused to sleep with Hefner, and the Playmate of the Year title ended up going to another Playmate. “That was my first business lesson, so to speak, from Hugh Hefner.”

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