Two different experiences. Holly Madison reflected on the “unfortunate” rift between her and Kendra Wilkinson after their time at the Playboy mansion.
“I wish she was more open-minded to the fact that not everybody had the same experience she did at the mansion. And I went through a lot of different things and had to deal with a lot more just being the main girlfriend,” Madison, 43, exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting her new Investigation Discovery show The Playboy Murders. “And I was there for four years before she ever came along.”
The Oregon native, who dated Hugh Hefner from 2001 to 2008, noted that everyone has their own stories to tell. “I had to deal with a lot of drama with Hef and other women and things like that. It’s unfortunate, but, you know, she has to learn what she has to learn in this lifetime. So we’re all on a different path,” she added.
Madison showed her support for Wilkinson’s public decision to not discuss her time at the mansion. (The Kendra on Top alum, 37, who moved in with Hefner in 2004, was also featured on The Girls Next Door alongside Madison.)
“I have heard her say that she doesn’t like talking about Playboy stuff and just kind of wants to move on. So I definitely respect that as well,” the Down the Rabbit Hole author shared with Us. “I’ve been in that phase in my life before and it’s really hard because it’s kind of all anybody else wants to talk about. I definitely respect her decision, but she is welcome to come on if she ever wants to.”
The Kendra Sells Hollywood star previously weighed in on her former costar’s decision to openly discuss both negative and positive parts of Playboy. “It doesn’t make sense. None of it makes sense,” Wilkinson told Us in November 2021. “Because I’m living my life, I’ve done my work and [I feel] God blessed, I don’t really know what to say or do.”
Meanwhile, Madison revealed its taken years to work through the “trauma” from her time at Playboy.
“I’m kind of careful about when I talk and in what context,” she explained to Us, noting that she was “reawakening her trauma” by discussing her past. “I knew that so many other women were coming forward with their stories. I wanted to be supportive of that because I know what it feels like to be one person coming out and with nobody supporting you.”
For the Holly’s World star, facing her time with Hefner has also been a major emotional obstacle.
“For so many years — when I was living at the Mansion — I always had this image of Hef being this amazing person. Any problems I blamed on the other women, I was like, ‘Oh, well they’re just awful,’” she recalled. “But of course, that wasn’t the case. And over the years and right before I left, I just realized how much he was pitting us against each other. Which was really hurtful to me because I’d always approached the relationship as like trying to do the best I could.”
She continued: “So knowing that he was doing those kinds of maneuverings behind my back was really hurtful. I mean it was definitely him. … It’s a lot of manipulation.”
Madison and the late magazine publisher split in 2008. (Hefner died in 2017 at age 91.)
“There were so many times I was really close to leaving throughout the seven years and in the end, it happened. Hef just got really verbally abusive to me, to the point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore,” she claimed. “The other girls had left and I was the only one there, which is what I had thought I had wanted for so many years. But I was also the only one on the other end of him taking out any of his frustrations. I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
The TV personality has recently turned her focus on projects such as the ID series’ The Playboy Murders. By participating in the upcoming shows, Madison was able to find out more about what others went through.
“When I was approached about doing this show, I was given a deck with a description of all the cases in it. I was really compelled by it because not only are these extremely interesting cases and all six are very different, but I had never even heard of most of these cases,” she said. “I thought I knew everything about Playboy history and everything that happened to every playmate, but I’d never heard of these. So I was extremely intrigued and I knew this was the type of the show that I would wanna watch whether or not I was involved. So that was a definite yes for me.”
Death by Fame premieres Monday, January 23, on ID at 9 p.m. ET. The Playboy Murders will follow at 10 p.m. ET and will be available the same day on Discovery+.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi