Holly Madison on ‘really strange’ experience filming ‘The Girls Next Door’: ‘They treated us like children’

Holly Madison has been reflecting on the years she spent with Hugh Hefner.

The former Playboy Bunny spoke out on A&E’s 10-part docuseries titled “Secrets of Playboy.” It features new interviews with numerous members of the Playboy founder’s staff and inner circle, as well as past girlfriends.

The 42-year-old dated the magazine publisher from 2001 to 2008 and was viewed as his No.1 girlfriend at one point.

Most recently, the star appeared on the conversational series “Between Two Salads” where she described the “really strange” experience filming “The Girls Next Door,” the E! reality series that went inside the Playboy Mansion.

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‘The Girls Next Door' aired from 2005 until 2009.

‘The Girls Next Door’ aired from 2005 until 2009.
(Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

“It was really strange and probably not what it would be for anybody else, because I had no control over the situation,” Madison explained. “And I was already living in this situation that was very cult-like.”

“It’s kind of turned into this miserable experience but an experience I felt like I was kind of stuck in,” she shared. “I was like, ‘I cannot leave until I build a life for myself outside, ‘cause I’d seen so many women leave and kind of go into these dark places.'”

Madison said she was “scared to leave” the mansion. And despite the show’s popularity, Madison claimed they weren’t properly compensated.

“They didn’t pay us for the first half of the season,” she alleged. “They just thought we would just do it for free because we were there. They really treated us like children. Like we were just Hef’s kids, and we were expected to work ‘cause we were family or something like that.”

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Holly Madison starred in ‘The Girls Next Door’ alongside Kendra Wilkinson (left) and Bridget Marquardt.

Holly Madison starred in ‘The Girls Next Door’ alongside Kendra Wilkinson (left) and Bridget Marquardt.
(Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Madison also described how she was envious of the Kardashians, who depicted their family in their hit reality series for the same network. That show aired from 2006 until 2021. “The Girls Next Door” aired from 2005 until 2009.

“That’s one thing I really envy about the Kardashians,” said Madison. “They get to experience [reality TV] with their family. I got to experience it with one best friend, which was cool, one person I had a lot of tension with, and a dude who didn’t treat me very good.”

Madison also went on to describe Hefner’s preference for young Playmates.

“At the Playboy Mansion, I used to see all the memos come in when they would review the candidates for Playmates, and they would always say, ‘She’s 28,’ if they thought somebody was [too old],” she alleged.

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Playboy's Hugh Hefner and his Playmates Kendra Wilkinson (R), Bridget Marquardt (C) and Holly Madison (L) attend the panel discussion for ‘The Girls Next Door’ during the E! Networks presentation at the 2005 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 17, 2005, in Beverly Hills, California. 

Playboy’s Hugh Hefner and his Playmates Kendra Wilkinson (R), Bridget Marquardt (C) and Holly Madison (L) attend the panel discussion for ‘The Girls Next Door’ during the E! Networks presentation at the 2005 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 17, 2005, in Beverly Hills, California. 
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

“Like, 28 was the death mark,” Madison continued. “Every once in a while they would have a Playmate who was older than that, but it was pretty rare. And if somebody was 28 they would always note that. I wonder how much even that affected me, spending my early 20s hearing, ‘Your kind of done by 28.’”

Bridget Marquardt, one of Hefner’s ex-girlfriends who also starred on “The Girls Next Door,” has corroborated some claims made by Madison in “Secrets of Playboy.” Their co-star Kendra Wilkinson was noticeably absent from the docuseries. A spokesperson for the 36-year-old told Fox News she wouldn’t be commenting. It’s noted that Wilkinson has stood by Hefner and even clashed publicly with Madison.

In response to the docuseries, a spokesperson for Playboy issued a statement to Fox News.

“Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy,” the statement began. “We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security, and accountability are paramount.”

HUNDREDS OF EX PLAYBOY PLAYMATES, STAFFERS DEFEND HUGH HEFNER CITING ‘UNFOUNDED’ ALLEGATIONS IN LETTER

Holly Madison has previously written a book about her experience living at the Playboy Mansion.

Holly Madison has previously written a book about her experience living at the Playboy Mansion.
(M. Tran/FilmMagic)

“The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences,” it continued. “We will never be afraid to confront the parts of our legacy as a company that do not reflect our values today.”

“As an organization with a more than 80% female workforce, we are committed to our ongoing evolution as a company and to driving positive change for our communities,” the statement concluded.

Hefner’s son Cooper also took to Twitter to defend his late father.

“Some may not approve of the life my Dad chose, but my father was not a liar,” the 30-year-old tweeted. “However unconventional, he was sincere in his approach and lived honestly. He was generous in nature and cared deeply for people. These salacious stories are a case study of regret becoming revenge.”

Hefner passed away in 2017 at age 91.

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