PHOTO: Hugh Hefner with former girlfriends Barbi Benton (left) and Holly Madison at the Playboy Mansion in 2005

The opening line of Crystal Hefner’s memoir, “Only Say Good Things,” mirrors the initial line from the gothic novel “Rebecca”: “Last night I dreamt about the [Playboy] Mansion again… The terror claws and scrapes at my throat. I press on the gas pedal, desperately trying to go faster, to make it back to that ivy-covered gothic house surrounded by redwoods before the clock strikes six.” This moment recounts when Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine and arguably the 20th century’s most renowned sex addict, summoned his young third wife back home.

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Crystal first encountered Hefner on Halloween in 2008 at the age of 21, while he was 82. Sending her photo to the mansion led to an invitation to a party. From there, she entered a world where sleeping with other women was customary. A few weeks later, she found herself living with him and the rest of his entourage. Remaining for a decade until Hefner’s death in 2017, she, now 37, survived the era just before the #MeToo movement. Her memoir, titled “Only Say Good Things,” reflects Hefner’s desire to hear positive sentiments.

In a whisper, Crystal initiates the interview, frequently pausing and saying ‘I don’t know.’ She describes her journey to find her voice, later revealing a more relaxed demeanor as she recounts her experiences. From meeting Hefner to becoming his wife, the memoir sheds light on her decade-long tenure at the Playboy Mansion, which she describes as a company headquarters and cult rather than a home.

With Crystal, then Hefner¿s girlfriend, in the mansion¿s scrapbook room, 2010

With Crystal, then Hefner’s girlfriend, in the mansion’s scrapbook room, 2010

Crystal’s backstory includes incremental trauma, starting with her father’s death when she was 12. Raised as the “good child” to support her depressed mother, she faced challenges, including non-consensual experiences and a tumultuous relationship. When she arrived at the mansion, she was emotionally prepared for a complex relationship with Hefner.

The mansion, initially enchanting, eventually revealed its flaws, including literal rot and black mold. Hefner, agoraphobic and addicted to drugs, was portrayed as a narcissist with unaddressed childhood issues. Despite their complex relationship, Crystal felt a responsibility to stay by his side, even after leaving temporarily in 2011.

Married in 2012 with a demanding prenuptial agreement, Crystal eventually became more assertive, prompting positive changes. Hefner’s decline in health led to the sale of the Playboy Mansion in 2016. He died in 2017, leaving Crystal distraught but ultimately grateful for her changed life.

Now residing in the Hollywood Hills, Crystal engages in property flipping and lychee farming. She has traveled extensively, heads the Hugh M Hefner Foundation, and is dating with hopes of starting a family. Despite the complicated past, she reflects on Hefner with mixed emotions, acknowledging the surreal nature of her experiences while exposing the truth in her memoir. “Only Say Good Things” is set to be published on January 25th by Ebury.


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