Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison

I spent several hours today reading Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison. Why? Because once I started reading it, I could not stop.

If you're a fan of Playboy related exposes, this book is a must read. Also pick up Playground by Jennifer Saginor. They're both great reads.

Anyway, here's what I take away from Holly Madison's book:

- Hugh Hefner wasn't a nice guy. The gentle octogenarian we saw on The Girls Next Door was actually very scheming, and enjoyed making the girls in the Playboy Mansion hate each other. Holly tried to believe that she loved him, despite the fact that he constantly berated her. He broke down her self esteem routinely throughout her time at the mansion.

- Hugh Hefner called himself 'Daddy', which is super creepy, given the age of his girlfriends and the fact that he could actually be their grandfather. And he was a hoarder.

- Hef was addicted to fame. He cared about it more than he did the young ladies in his mansion. He was all about image, and although he wanted drama amongst the girls in his household, the public was never to know about it.

- Holly, Bridget and Kendra were not fairly paid for their participation in The Girls Next Door. They didn't receive compensation for the first season at all. They were told to be happy with the fact that they were allowed to live in the mansion. Later, they were paid but had to sign serious contracts.

- The girls were given 'roles' on The Girls Next Door. Kendra wanted to have fun, Bridget wanted a career and Holly wanted Hef. Bridget and Holly were so similar that they needed to be assigned characteristics to distinguish them. Hef tried to convince the girls that the show would have worked with anyone else and they weren't special. But really, they were - it bombed once Kristina, Karissa and Crystal were on it.

- Remember when Crystal Harris left Hugh Hefner at the altar? Holly maintains that the event was very real, and it wasn't any kind of publicity stunt, even though Hef did capitalize on it. Also, Crystal was very unkind to Holly, most likely based on jealousy.

- Holly stayed faithful to Hef during her time in the mansion. She did date Criss Angel after she moved out, though, and that turned into a mess. If you don't like Criss Angel, you're in luck, because Holly doesn't hold back on trashing him in this book.

Here are my thoughts on the book:

This book is very much written from Holly's perspective. I know that is a completely obvious statement - after all, it is her book. But what I mean is this: Holly is very self reflective, but also critical of those around her. She points out that Hef pitted the girls in the mansion against one another in order to create drama. She notes that certain people in the mansion were mean to her. But it does seem like she shifts some of the blame away from herself in a way that others involved in the situation may have found less than true. This is just an observation, though, and I could be wrong.

Holly is fiercely loyal to those she cares about (Mary O'Connor and Bridget Marquardt, notably) while strongly critical of many others. Her judgments seem to be clouded in current anger, which is completely fair, but I think the book would have read very differently if she'd written it while still at the Playboy Mansion. She paints herself as very innocent, whereas reality may not be as clear cut as the book makes it seem.

I believe that Holly was genuinely in love with Hef for a while, even though she denies it in retrospect. It may have been due to Stockholm Syndrome or something of the sort, but the feelings were there, and I don't think they can be as easily dismissed as Holly portrays them to be.

This book is going to ruffle some feathers, for sure. Hef sent Holly unhappy letters whenever she said anything he didn't approve of, even though they'd been broken up for a significant amount of time when she'd said some of those things. Hef, Crystal, some former Playmates and possibly Kendra are going to be pretty upset when they catch wind of how Holly described them. But I do think it was a story that needed to be told.

I've read the Amazon reviews of Down The Rabbit Hole, and there are a few things that stand out to me. One is that people are saying, "Holly could have just left the mansion if she was so miserable." I don't think it's quite that simple. I think she really was financially trapped, unless she was willing to go back to her parents' home. And for some people, that's just not an option. Plus, it's easy to fall into the "I've gone this far, I can make it through to my goal" mentality, even if that goal is unattainable.

The second thing is that Holly shows a lack of self reflection and is heavy on the blame for others. Well, yeah, I can agree with that, in a way. She tends to blame the others in her relationships (friendships and romances) for their demise and misfortune. I can see that. She heavily blames Criss Angel for his relationship shortcomings, but basically says that she didn't know better until it was over. I think there might be some memory repression going on here. Like, what the book says may genuinely be what Holly believes. The same thing with the mean girls. I think there may have been some upfront issues, and Holly shutting down made the issues worse. And Hugh Hefner probably did purposely cause fights. But I'm sure that some responsibility did fall on Holly's shoulders. However, this is her book, and it's meant to reflect how she sees things, not necessarily a 100% reality.

Here's some other interesting info:

Per Us Weekly, Holly decided to speak out now for the following reasons.

 "I’ve gotten offers for book deals before, especially right after I left the mansion," Madison told Us at her Hollywood home last month in an exclusive sit-down with Us' Ingrid Meilan. "But I didn’t want to do it then because I didn’t want to do just a tell-all about someone. I wanted this to be my life story — about what I’ve learned and where I’ve gone — and I've finally gotten to a place where I felt that I could tell that story. Over the years I met so many people who had so many misconceptions about what my life was like at the mansion and I really wanted to set the record straight."

If you're a Holly Madison fan, this book is a must read. I couldn't put it down, and I enjoyed this well-written autobiography.

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