Since Playboy’s inception in 1953, many have had strong opinions about the publication, ranging from calling Hugh Hefner the “devil” to praising the publication as a “feminist outlet.” In recent years, more allegations have come up about the deplorable conditions and alleged abuse to which Playboy Bunnies and Playmates — as well as many of Hugh Hefner’s exes — were subjected. With the new A&E 10-part docuseries Secrets of Playboy, we’re taking a look back at some of the most famous women with access to the Playboy mansion over the years.
But first, a quick vocabulary lesson: While you might think that “Playboy Bunny” and “Playmate” are the same thing, they’re actually very different. Per Business Insider, a bunny is an employee whose job description includes serving and hostessing Playboy Clubs as well as the mansion. Playmates, on the other hand, are centerfold models, given lifelong titles like “Playmate of the Month” or “Playmate of the Year.” Many, many famous women have posed for Playboy over the years — but only bunnies, Playmates, and those with personal relationships to Hugh Hefner appear to have gotten close enough to see what was really going on for the women whose livelihood was inextricably linked to Hefner’s empire.
For example: Despite not being bunnies or playmates themselves, Hefner’s exes like Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt have seen everything in the Playboy world, and they’re ready to tell their tales. Madison has been very vocal about how deplorable the Playboy empire is, revealing she even considered suicide after her time there, and Marquardt is speaking out in this year’s docuseries.
From those who are coming forward with allegations about Playboy to those who remember their time with the brand fondly, let’s look back at the women with the longest Playboy histories below.