Crystal Hefner says she "felt trapped" in marriage to late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner


More than six years after the death of Hugh Hefner and her departure from the Playboy Mansion, Crystal Hefner is opening up about her marriage and her life inside the controversial home. 

In her new memoir “Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself,” Hefner writes about how she nearly lost her identity when she moved into the mansion and later married Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. Playboy did not respond to CBS’ multiple requests for comment.

Hefner said she lived at the mansion for nearly a decade, but it never felt like home: There were nightly curfews, complex power dynamics, and models like her had to conform to specific body standards, sometimes through plastic surgery. It’s a time of her life that Hefner said she looks back on with regret. 

“I think Playboy itself, when Hef started the brand, I think he wanted it to be all about freedom and expression, and when I was at the mansion, I feel I completely lost myself to what was expected of me,” Hefner said. “There was nothing free about it. I felt trapped.” 

Hefner was just 21 when she first visited the mansion, and she said she was “young and impressionable.” Hugh Hefner picked her out of a crowd her first night visiting, and soon, she was moving in.  

“Being at the mansion was very hard. It was very traumatic, looking back, and as I go through therapy after I left, your value was skin-deep, so you had to make sure you looked perfect at all time, or at least perfect to what Hef’s standards were,” Hefner said, using a nickname to refer to her late husband. 

In 2012, she married Hugh Hefner. Hefner was 26 years old, and Hugh Hefner was 86. She was his third wife. Hefner said she wasn’t in love with her late husband, but did care for him and wanted the best for him as he aged.

“I don’t think it was love,” Hefner said. “I did care for him. He was getting older and I know he wanted to protect his image and just to be the man that he was to the public … I felt sorry for him, in a way, and felt that he really needed me, because at a certain point, I didn’t need him for anything. I was good on my own. I had money. I had all these things. And I remember telling my mom ‘He needs me.’ So I stayed.” 

Being married to Hugh Hefner, she said, involved “completely losing” herself to someone else. It was a cost she “didn’t fully realize” until later on, Hefner said. 

“I just made myself Hef’s mirror, and that was my job,” Hefner said. 

Now 37, Hefner has a healthier relationship with herself, and says “life is good now.”

 “I finally have freedom,” Hefner said. “I have recent love in my life. It feels very healthy and I’m happy and I’m finally finding myself, who I am and what I enjoy.” 



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