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Secrets of Playboy

Secrets of Playboy

Secrets_of_playboy_241x208
  • Premiered: 
    January 24, 2022
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: A&E
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Entertainment
  • Tags: historical

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Plot Synopsis

Directed by Alexandra Dean, SECRETS OF PLAYBOY is a 10-hour documentary series that explores the complex world Hugh Hefner created and examines its far-reaching consequences on our culture's view of power and sexuality. Four years after Hefner's death, insiders, colleagues, executives, Playmates and employees from all levels of the brand share the full story of what life within the Playboy world was truly like. This series unravels the glamorous mythology behind the Playboy empire created over several decades. With the creation of the brand, Hefner defined the sexual revolution and allowed for the freedom of sexual expression. Yet intertwined with the glossy facade of a world that seemingly celebrated women was a more sinister reality that for decades allowed nefarious conduct including sexual assault and drug abuse to flourish, and where prostitution, suicide and even murder lurked in the shadows. SECRETS OF PLAYBOY 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. Plus, the documentary features archival footage and exclusive interviews including former Director of Playmate Promotions Miki Garcia; past girlfriends of Hefner's including Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Sondra Theodore; author of "Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion" and Playboy Mansion West resident Jennifer Saginor; Bunny Mother PJ Masten; former Playmates Rebekka Armstrong, Susie Krabacher, Dona Spier, Tylyn John and Cristy Thom; and members of Hefner's staff and inner circle including executive assistant Lisa Loving Barrett, butler Mitch Rosen, and personal valet Stefan Tetenbaum. Episodes include:

"The Playboy Legacy" (Monday, January 24, 2022 at 9pm): Hugh Hefner sold himself as a champion of free speech who created the Playboy brand to set off a sexual revolution that would liberate men and women alike, but over the years he used Playboy to manipulate women to compete for his favor and silenced whistleblowers.

"The Girl Next Door" (Monday, January 24, 2022 at 10pm): In the 2000s, Hugh Hefner reinvented himself and his brand through the runaway success of the reality show GIRLS NEXT DOOR, starring his girlfriends Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson, and number one girlfriend Holly Madison. The series made mansion life seem like a fairytale, but Holly and Bridget reveal that the reality was a life full of rigid rules, gaslighting, and infighting.

"The Bunnies & the Cleanup Crew" (Monday, January 31, 2022 at 9pm): The Playboy Bunny was the most famous sex symbol of the 20th century. Playboy hired the most attractive women in the world to don the ears and tail by promising an environment where they would always be protected. But outside of the clubs, at the Playboy Mansion itself, and in the company of Hefner's VIP customers, the Bunnies faced dangers and abuses that were covered up by the Playboy "cleanup crew."

"The Price of Loyalty" (Monday, February 7, 2022 at 9pm): Exploring the 1970s DEA investigation into Hefner, Playboy and drugs through the lens of two women who lived and worked at Playboy; Hefner's right-hand woman Bobbie Arnstein and Playboy Bunny Adrienne Pollack.

"The Circus" (Monday, February 14, 2022 at 9pm): After decades of silence, Hefner's former number one girlfriend Sondra Theodore shares her story detailing how she was groomed by him to participate in his increasingly abusive sex life. Sondra's testimony shines a spotlight on Hefner's mechanisms for controlling and breaking women.

"The Corporate Game " (Monday, February 21, 2022 at 9pm): The Playboy corporate world was billed as a welcoming place for women, but Playmate and eventual Director of Playboy Promotions Miki Garcia and Bunny Mother PJ Masten reveal the rampant sexual harassment they faced as they attempted to climb the corporate ladder.

"The Big Playboy Lie" (Monday, February 28, 2022 at 9pm): A roundtable of Playmates recount how decades of women modeled for the magazine because they believed the Playboy promise that becoming a Playmate would lead to a lucrative career in a safe environment. Instead, many faced a hostile environment rampant with drugs, pornography, and prostitution. The circumstances led Miki Garcia to testify against Playboy before the Reagan Administration's 1980s Commission on Pornography.

"Predators' Ball" (Monday, March 7, 2022 at 9pm): From the earliest parties at the Mansion, celebrities like Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby were a big part of the allure of the Playboy brand. But Hugh Hefner kept some Hollywood A-listers happy at the expense of the women.

"The Shadow Mansions" (Monday, March 14, 2022 at 9pm): During the 1990s, Playmates like Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith had reached peak fame and young women flocked to Los Angeles in hopes of being the next centerfold. Yet for those not deemed attractive enough for the magazine, men in Hefner's inner circle set up "shadow" mansions where women were exploited.

"Predator Number One" (Monday, March 21, 2022 at 9pm): In public, Hefner continually professed that he wanted to protect his "girls next door." But he continually failed. Never before heard stories from Playmate Susie Krabacher, mansion employees Stefan and Stella Tetanbaum, and Sondra Theodore reveal the dark truth that Hefner was the Mansion's Predator Number One.

"Behind 'The Girls Next Door'" (Monday, March 28, 2022 at 9pm): Former girlfriends of Hugh Hefner Karissa and Kristina Shannon, discuss their experience with Hefner and the hit television series "The Girls Next Door," which introduced a new generation to Hefner and the Playboy lifestyle. Telling their emotional story for the first time, Karissa and Kristina reveal that beneath the sugar-coated exterior was a darker world led by Hefner with increasingly stricter rules designed to control the women in order to maintain the Playboy image.

"The Aftermath" (Monday, April 4, 2022 at 9pm): Former Playmates, girlfriends, and employees including Sondra Theodore, Susie Krabacher, Lisa Loving Barrett and Audrey Ann Huskey come together to share their experiences and struggles stemming from their time in the Playboy world. Alongside sex and trauma therapist Dr. Kate Balestrieri, the women reflect on the decades of fear and abuse they experienced and how the Playboy legacy has changed as a result of their decisions to come forward.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC)