Thursday, October 22, 2015
Book Review: "Down the Rabbit Hole" by Holly Madison
"There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death."
We have to begin this review with a personal confession: Before we became a Christian, in the era when we were still chasing women, this author IDOLIZED Hugh Hefner. The idea of having a rotating harem over the course of several decades was one to which we aspired. This was in the era of The Girls Next Door, which was one of our favorite television shows at the time.
Given this background, we DEVOURED Holly Madison's recent release Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. Madison, who was Hef's primary 'girlfriend' for seven years and starred with him on the television show, confesses the reality behind the Playboy image. We've covered some of this before, but Hugh Hefner's day-to-day existence seems wretchedly awful.
While we've been familiar with this topic for several years, one thing we learned from Madison's book is that Hefner doesn't even own the Playboy Mansion: "Playboy Enterprises (a public company at the time) owned the mansion. Not Hef. In order to live there, he had to pay a monthly rent on every room he and his girlfriends occupied. People may find it surprising that Hugh Hefner is nothing more than a tenant renting his room at the mansion, but that's exactly how it is" (136). Furthermore, Hefner has "spent $2 million on girlfriends and trips the past few years" (125).
Another miserable aspect of life at the mansion is the physical condition of the property. Madison describes the mansion guesthouse as: "Grandma's attic meets rent-by-the-hour motel" (51). In a state of extended disrepair, the mansion "[F]or being a super upscale home, it wasn't without its downscale touches. One of the most memorable was the tray of Johnson's Baby Oil, Vaseline, and Kleenex that was in the bathroom, in the grotto, and at the tennis courts and the pool bar. I still don't know whether to be disgusted or amused by those trays" (54). Even worse, the facility is covered by animal waste of both the liquid and solid variety. When Madison was organizing Hef's film collection, "[I]t was particularly unplesant when I'd unearth a tape and realize it was coated in years-old dog urine" (108).
Hefner's sexual 'escapades' are a sensitive topic. While we don't want to get into too much detail, we do want to mention them because even this aspect of Hefner's existence is pathetically unappealing. While Madison describes it in far more detail than we will, suffice to say that on Wednesday and Friday nights Hefner hops himself up on Viagra and spends about 30 seconds with every girl unfortunate enough to be in the bedroom before finishing himself off in the corner. As Madison explains, "[E]very red-blooded American male has no doubt fantasized about what went on in Hugh Hefner's bedroom, with his harem of blonde bombshells. The answer? Not a whole lot" (39).
On Madison's first night clubbing with Hefner he offered her a Quaalude with the sales pitch: "[U]sually I don't approve of drugs, but you know, in the '70's they used to call these pills 'thigh openers" (36). Years later, during the film organizing project described above, she discovered a pornographic film entitled "Girl and Dog" (108). During her early years at the Mansion, there were girls smoking copious amounts of meth (90). While none of the Girls Next Door cast members participated, one of Hefner's earlier 'girlfriends' helped run a prostitution ring out of the mansion (92). Fortunately for Madison, the final third of the book details how her life improved once she belatedly left the mansion.
This is a book that every teenager and youth pastor in America needs to read. Hugh Hefner was an early and major pusher of Alfred Kinsey's catastrophic junk 'science.' The allegedly carefree Playboy image lies at the core of the catastrophe otherwise known as the sexual revolution. To learn the truth of Hugh Hefner's squalid existence is to learn that reality can never match the image. This book re-enforces the reality that, always and inevitably, unhealthy behavior leads to bad consequences. In writing Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, Holly Madison has done a national service. While this book is definitely outside some people's comfort zones, it's well worth the read.