Holly Madison is still being asked why she didn’t mourn the death of Hugh Hefner six years after his death at age 91.
The Girls Next Door alum – who isn’t likely to return to a reboot of the series – spent some of her most formative years in an allegedly toxic relationship with the Playboy founder.
When the Lothario died, she didn’t release a statement.
‘When he passed away, everybody expected me to have some big reaction or post about it on social media, and it just felt weird. I didn’t have any emotional attachment to him anymore in any way,’ she told People.
Holly, 43, wrote about everything she experienced at the hands of Hefner in her 2016 book Down the Rabbit Hole.
‘I’d already come out talking about what a toxic relationship this was for me,’ she said. ‘Why am I supposed to post a memorial on my Instagram?’
At the time of Hef’s death, Holly was still healing from her years at the Playboy Mansion.
She says Hefner’s alleged, non-stop judgement gave her body dysmorphia. She felt conflicted when he died and admitted she didn’t feel relieved as she had already extricated herself from the bunny lifestyle.
‘Not relief at all, because I felt like I had taken myself kind of out of that universe pretty solidly. But it was a really odd time,’ she explained.
‘For me, after leaving that relationship, I kind of felt like he had always interacted with me in such a fake way.’
She added; ‘Because every interaction he had with me was all about control or this fantasy he had of a relationship. It almost felt like playing house in a way.’
When she was filming The Girls Next Door for E!, producers kept trying to get her to talk to Hefner on the phone during the show but she had no interest in talking to him at all at that point.
‘Why would I want to talk to a robot? Everything he says to me is just going to be designed to get a certain reaction, designed to keep me on his good side. It just didn’t feel authentic,’ she said.
‘Before he passed away, there had been maybe five or six years where I just had not spoken to him at all. He had become a completely different character in my mind.’
And when she exposed her truth that her entire time in the Playboy universe amounted to a big episode of gaslighting, she faced considerable backlash.
‘There’s still people who want to attack me for telling my truth, even if it has nothing to do with them. Just because when you’re coming from the mansion, it’s kind of this high-stakes environment where people attach who they are to this title of being a playmate or being associated with Playboy, so they don’t ever want to hear a bad word about it,’ she said.
‘And it just gets really catty even now with some people, but those people aren’t in my life, so it’s okay.’