The horrifying accusations in Secrets of Playboy will haunt viewers for years.
Those who spoke in the chilling docuseries have been dealing with this for decades.
However, Hugh Hefner’s defenders had spoken out in defense of his complicated legacy and the Playboy brand.
PJ Masten, who participated in the documentary, has been receiving vicious hate mail in the wake of voicing her accusations.
PJ Masten is 71 years old, and spoke at length about her harrowing experiences as part of Playboy.
Most of us think of Playboy as a cringey element of the past, or perhaps as a forbidden, scrambled channel from the 1990s.
But Masten described the magezine brand of covering up sexual abuse aimed at its most vulnerable employees.
Masten recently spoke to the LA Times about the vicious backlash that she has received.
“You’re a piece of s–t. You’re a liar. You’re a f–king this and f–king that,” she read, with some self-censorship, from Facebook messages.
She detailed: “It’s all from bunnies,” referring to other former Playboy employees.
Masten’s detractors, she explained, worked at Hefner’s gentlemen’s lounges in the 1960s and 1970s.
“These are 85-year-old women running around with their bunny ears on,” she characterized.
“And,” Masten acknowledged, “I’m bursting their bubble.”
Masten worked as a bunny herself, but she also advanced through the ranks, working as a bunny mother.
This den mother role meant that she oversaw daily operations of the bunnies and of the clubs themselves.
While Masten is not shy about condemning Hefner and Playboy leadership, it doesn’t sound like she regrets the job itself.
“Being a bunny was the best experience of my life,” Masten recalled.
She praised: “It was a great sorority of sisters.”
“But the filth and language they’re attacking me with?” Masten remarked. “I’m frightened of these vicious women.”
When a famous person or brand (and the difference is often difficult to define) is accused of wrongdoing, vocal defenders often come forward.
What is always so interesting about this is that not all defense is the same.
If you think that a political comment was correct or that a person’s bad joke was forgivable, hey, that’s an opinion. But that’s not what Secrets of Playboy was about.
The docuseries details horror stories about what women experienced with the brand.
In some cases, that meant very recent bunnies, such as those who lived in the mansion with Hefner and enjoyed reality TV stardom as a result.
That was bad enough, but it wasn’t the grueling nightmare fuel that Masten shared.
Masten said that Playboy and Hefner in particular essentially made the bunnies, especially new hires with no connections or protection, sitting ducks.
She accused Hefner of deliberately marketing them as “easy prey” for predatory men.
There were incidents, she recalled, of bunnies either being invited to parties or being hired away from the clubs, only to be subjected to horrible abuses.
Viewers don’t doubt that Masten saw a great deal while she had a front row seat to the brand’s “cleanup crew.”
We also don’t doubt that most or not all of Hefner’s defenders — the ones now attacking her on social media — had much better experiences than any alleged victims.
But … isn’t it kind of weird to attack someone else over their experiences that were different than yours? That’s a lot of anger to carry around.