For decades, Playboy deliberately cultivated the image of “sexual liberation,” though perhaps co-opted is the better term.
Given that the brand was always about women on display for men’s enjoyment, many suspected that something wasn’t right with Hugh Hefner.
Numerous women who were part of that world have described the Playboy Mansion as a gaslighting cult and worse.
The Secrets of Playboy docuseries has now exposed how a “clean-up crew” helped keep Playboy’s image clean for so long.
On the third episode of A&E’s Secrets of Playboy, viewers heard from a number of women who were Bunnies in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
This was Playboy’s era, a time when the media empire projected the illusion of how male customers might live if they were fabulously wealthy.
That’s a fine fantasy to which to cater. But maintaining the image came at a bitter cost to many women.
P.J. Mastenw orked for Playboy from 1972 to 1982, where she had a front row seat to dozens of incidents.
She knew of the alleged sexual abuse and sexual assaults through her romantic relationship with the head of security, Joe Piastro.
Speaking to the camera, Masten estimated that there were probably 40 to 50 young women who were silenced during that time following abuse or sexual violence.
“It was a lucrative job [so women] were afraid to come forward with a VIP assault,” Masten explained.
“They would lose their job,” she warned, “because that’s how it worked with Playboy. You open your mouth, you’re out of here.”
Masten explained: “And there was a constant turnover of bunnies. Constant.”
“If anything scandalous happened, we had to clean it up so it would not hit the press,” Masten described grimly.
“And it certainly wouldn’t go to the police department,” she detailed.
“And there were scandals in every club,” Masten stated. “You weren’t allowed to take them to a hospital.”
“It was a big thing for Hefner to not have that kind of heat,” Masten described. “He did not want the LAPD coming down on him.”
Masten then went on to share an absolute horror story of what happened to a pair of sisters who were in their early 20s.
The new hires, or “Baby Bunnies,” were entertaining late Soul Train host Don Cornelius, who was a Playboy VIP Gold Member.
According to Masten, he invited the women to his home and “it was encouraged to take care of the big VIPs.”
Masten described: “But once they left the club, they were not protected — especially from the VIPs that were chosen by Hefner.”
Heartbreakingly, she shared: “We didn’t hear from them for three days.”
Masten shared the horrific allegations: “These two young Bunnies were at Don Cornelius’ house and they were separated.”
“One was locked in one room and the other was in another room,” she described.
“They were tied up and bound, and the sister could hear her screaming,” Masten added.
Masten went on to describe the women being abused and raped with foreign objects, commenting: “It was horrible, horrible.”
It was only after one of the sisters escaped and contacted Playboy that security was sent to get the “bloody, battered, drugged” girls.
Masten stated her belief that Hefner must have learned about this because he read security reports, yet nothing was done about Don Cornelius.
Masten described similar horrific assaults, including of a group of women being assaulted in a remote cabin.
Women were drugged and then their assaults were filmed.
When they were threatened with revenge porn, Masten described, they were then fired to protect the Playboy brand.
The most vulnerable women, Masten noted, were the new girls — younger, without other women friends at the company.
Better connected Bunnies could get better protection, or at least a warning about who was dangerous.
From Masten’s characterization and these grisly allegations, it sounds like the company was more interested in protecting its image than the women in its employ.