Getting into the Playboy Mansion
The Playboy Mansion has been in the news since Hugh Hefner first acquired it in 1959. For almost 60 years, Hefner and his bunnies kept this treasure of a palace sensuously and provocatively pumping with the hottest, most exclusive parties in the city of Los Angeles. Now, as we mourn and celebrate the life of the late Mr. Hugh Hefner, the Playboy Mansion officially passes to its new owner, billionaire Daren Metropoulos; and an era has officially ended.
Of course, this era-ending has prompted me to regale you with my own sordid tale of how the little Canadian farm girl ended up at the Playboy Mansion…
Flash back to, well… 16 years ago…
I hadn’t been living in Los Angeles for very long, but being that I am a friendly Sagittarian, within a short time I had amassed a posse of girlfriends, as I have never been one who wanted to sit at home alone. Three of my closest friends had been attending the Playboy parties for a few years before I met them, and even though we always rolled as a group, when the Playboy parties popped up, I knew that it meant a night home alone for me.
You see, these girls were all tall, thin, gorgeous, large-breasted perfect tens, and I was, well, me. As they had been on the list for several years—and as they told me how hard it was to get into these private, invite-only events—I never really thought about trying to go. I mean this party invite did not come with a plus-one; it was an exclusive-non-transferable you are lucky-as-shit to be on the list, kind of an invite.
I was always curious with excited anticipation, barely able to resist calling my friends early the next morning to hear the details about what I had missed from the night prior. I couldn’t wait to hear about all the debauchery and extravagance of their evening escapades; and more importantly, who was there. Did they meet famous celebrities? Were there cute guys? Did they see naked people ‘doing it’ in the grotto? OMG really, that celebrity does blow? My list of questions was endless, as my mind painted my own vivid picture listening to their tales the following morning.
Honestly, I was quite content just hearing the gossip close up and personal the following morning. Even if I was a little sad that I could never go with them, I realized that sometimes in life you can’t get everything you want. And, I knew that I would never likely be able pull off the model or playboy bunny look—never.
Until one morning when…
It was after the Mid-Summer’s night party, as I propped myself up in my bed with a large cup of coffee, excitedly listening to my girlfriend’s recollection from the night prior, when my heart literally halted in my figurative tracks. After telling me that she saw George Clooney, and David Spade and Cameron Diaz, she slid into the conversation that my ‘Ex-boyfriend’—my ‘Ex-boyfriend’ who had just recently dumped me because I wasn’t Jewish—had been at the party.
I remember screaming into the phone “‘Ex-Boyfriend’ got into the party!?!” We both wondered how he had gotten an invite, and after several minutes of heated debate, realized that he must have paid someone off to get in, because he definitely did not have the clout, the connections, the cash, or the celebrity cache to be mixing in that crowd. It was at that moment that I decided that I was going to get on the guest list if it was the last thing I did.
As it turns out, determination can be quite the bitch…
My girlfriends knew that ‘Ex-boyfriend’ had broken—no smashed—my heart, so they were on-board and supportive of my quest to get myself guest-listed to become part of the exclusive Playboy Mansion party crowd. My ‘innocent–bystander’ ‘invisible-attendance’ was no longer going to cut it. I was getting in.
When the next Playboy party was about 6 weeks away, my friend informed me that I needed to write a nice letter—explaining why I would like to be guest at one of Hef’s sure-to-be-splendid events— send a picture along with my letter, mention that I would like to attend with said friend, and cross my fingers and toes that I would get invited.
I kind of figured that, well, most likely I was a shoo-in. I mean, I had listed all of my friends’ names I would be attending with, sent in a nice letter and, what I thought was a great picture. One day when I came home from work, and played my messages from my answering machine, you can only imagine how excited I was when the voice on the message announced that her name was Jenny, and that she was calling from the Playboy Mansion. She thanked me for my nice letter, but let me know that, unfortunately, the list was full for the upcoming party. My excitement was quickly replaced with a feeling of being dejected.
I had been rejected; I wasn’t cute enough, or sexy enough, or playboy-bunnyish enough, I had been turned down cold. I was devastated, and then embarrassed that I had to call my friend and give her the bad news. I wasn’t invited.
My friend seemed a bit surprised and asked me what picture I had sent in with my letter, one that she had helped me compose over the phone only two weeks prior. “A really cute picture of me and Canoli, sitting on my leopard print chair, and I am wearing a half-top, I looked really cute” I remember saying with wee sobs as tears welled up in my eyes. My friend laughed out loud, and literally screamed into the phone in virtual hysteria as she said “You sent a picture of you and your dog to the Playboy Mansion, and you are wondering why you didn’t get in? Janell, they are looking for sexy, and as cute as Canoli is, sexy he is not.”
She told me not to worry, that we could try for the next party. And once again, I had to wait until the following morning to hear the stories from the night before, and at least was relieved that ‘Ex-boyfriend’ was not in attendance, therefore reaffirming my supposition that he had somehow snuck in.
Playboy Mansion – Strike one, but heck what the hell…
Time flies and before I knew it, I was writing another letter and sending in another picture. This time I decided that, if it was sexy they wanted, than sexy they would get. So in my typical farm-girl Canadian mentality, I sent in a picture of me, standing on a rock, under a waterfall in Hawaii. My hair was slicked back, wet from just cliff diving. I had no make-up on, but I was really rocking my bikini as my body had never been more fit, basically… I decided to go with a natural-beauty-kind-of-sexy.
And obviously, I was rejected once again.
That was it; I was done trying to get into the Playboy Mansion. I didn’t need the ‘three times the charm’ bull-crap ‘cheer me up’ mentality from my friends. Strike two, and I was out. I was no longer interested in playing ball on this Playboy-party-guest-list ball team. I was done; finished. The game was over for me. ‘Ex-boyfriend’ had one up on me, and I just had to deal with humiliated defeat.
Playboy Mansion attempt two – girlfriends sometimes have other ideas….
Of course, a couple of months later, another party was coming up: the Mardi-Gras party. And, by this time and place, I was resolved to the fact that I was never going to see the inside of the Playboy Mansion. Friday night, my girlfriend called me up and said, “Okay, I am coming over tomorrow and we are going to take pictures, and I am going to write the letter myself and send it into Jenny on your behalf.” I truly wanted to have nothing to do with it, and told her no, but she would not listen to me. I mean, my self-esteem was really not strong enough to be rejected three times in a row.
But friends can be persuasive, so the next morning I had my hair in rollers, waiting in my robe for my friend’s arrival. She said that we would go through my wardrobe when she got to my house, as she knew ‘the look’ that dear old Hef was looking for. I guess she must have surmised that I owned nothing of Playboy-consequence, as she showed up to my house with what could only be described as a ‘bag of tricks’. Within minutes, various bustiers, fishnet stockings, padded bras, make-up, glitter, false eye-lashes, micro mini-skirts, 8-inch high see through platform shoes, and negligees were thrown about my apartment as my friend tried to help me find a ‘look’ that she thought would work.
Let’s just say she went to work on me, and I basically got all ‘tarted up’, as the Brits would say, and truthfully, I felt ridiculous. But, if I had to put all of this shit on, and being that it was so nice of my friend to go this extra, well, ‘slutty’ mile for me, than what could be the harm in taking a few shots? I had actually never looked sexier in my life–well sexy in an over-the-top ‘come-hither-come-fuck-me-look’.
So we began to snap pictures on a disposable camera (yep, before the iPhone) and unfortunately dressing sexy doesn’t always translate into becoming sexy. My friend would try to get me to look sexy and I really had no idea how to go about it. I felt uncomfortable as she snapped away, realizing that I had no idea how to look sexy. The only look I knew how to do was cute! The whole process was a bit painstaking for my friend; regardless we managed to take a roll of film, and I dropped it off for processing. Finally I was going to have a ‘Playboy worthy picture’.
A picture is worth a thousand words, or none….
Yep, my pictures were finally ready, and when I picked them up from the photo shop, the man behind the desk leered at me in an odd fashion. I assumed my pictures must have been pretty hot, guessing he must have peeked at my pics. Well, reality bites and when I opened the envelope and looked at the pictures, sexy would be the last word to describe these shots. I think phrases like ‘Shell shocked’, ‘Deer in the headlights’ and ‘Awkward’ would be better euphemisms for my brand of sexy. Friend was admittedly disappointed by my sexless shots, but out of the 36 pictures we took, she found one that she thought was, okay. Just, okay.
I knew it–the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule was in full play in my astrological-sexless-universe. But whatever, I let her take the picture and held out no hope of ever hearing back from the Playboy mansion.
Of course, a couple of weeks passed, and I never even got a call from Jenny. I reasoned that they must be annoyed with my fervent attempts at entry, and might not even bother to call me back. I felt a bit down, but I was not holding out hope for a miracle from the Playboy-gods.
You can imagine my surprise then, when I was going through my mail, and one of the letters was in an oversized envelope, and on the back was the address 10236 Charing Cross Road. It was an invite to the Mardi-Gras party at the Playboy Mansion! I was officially in! On the guest list! A real invite! I, Janell Marie Martin had….arrived!
Parties take preparation…
As excited as I was, I actually had a few tears of relief and joy that day, but I had little time to rejoice in my delicious victory, as my friend informed me that the party was two weeks away and I had better start to get ready. You see, it turned out that I basically needed to acquire my own ‘bag of tricks’ by way of a wardrobe. That meant heading to Hollywood Boulevard and buying incredibly high, see-through and impossible to walk in ‘slut-shoes’. I also needed a sexy negligee, fish net stockings, glitter…I mean the list was endless. Not to forget spray tanning the night before, followed by a fresh mani-pedi the day of the event, and a sexy blow out. Plus, sexy is hot, but a bloated belly is not, and as my wardrobe was definitely on the scantily clad side—and even thought I had dieted like a motherfucker for the past week—black coffee and water were the only indulgences I was allowed on party day.
I was finally primed and preened and deemed Playboy Mansion ready when my friend arrived to pick me up. It had been an exhausting ordeal, what with the three attempts, the rejection, the dejection—not to fail to mention that all of the above severely set back the women’s movement by several decades—but who cares? Nothing mattered at this moment other than, I was in, I was ready, it was… ON!
Of course, you don’t drive up to the Playboy Mansion. Rather, there was a meeting location in the UCLA parking garage where your name was checked against your ID, and once you passed inspection that you were who you said you were, and that your name was actually on the list, then you would get on a bus with the other party people and head up the hill to Hef’s home.
As we were standing in line, waiting to show our IDs my girlfriend told me “Janell, they are going to take your picture after you show your ID. And for God’s sake, do not give ANY of those sexy looks you did when we were taking the pictures. If you don’t take a good picture, you will NEVER be invited back.”
Shit, the pressure was almost too much to bear. I couldn’t believe I had yet one more test to pass. I was a nervous wreck, and on top of that, I could barely walk in the stupid hooker-shoes that I had on my feet.
It was a one shot deal, and if my ‘shot’ sucked, I would never ever be invited back. I remember being pretty much frozen with fear, but as the camera snapped in my direction I gave a big grin and just hoped for the best.
Finally I was on the bus with my friend, I had goosebumps from excitement. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to one of these parties. The months of rejection, the weeks of work and monies spent getting ready for a one night event were, at this moment, seemingly worth it.
Yee-haw, the kid from Canada has landed!
I will never forget walking up to the front door, and entering those famous hallowed halls. Of course I kept tripping every two seconds, and outside, the cobble stone and grass made it almost impossible to walk without falling, but after consuming a glass or two of champagne, I relaxed, loosened up and started to feel more at ease with my newfound sexy self.
There were people everywhere. Cocktail waitresses were dressed in lingerie, that upon closer inspection, was actually body-painted on lingerie. It was so well-done you would’ve thought they actually had lingerie on until you got up close and could see their nipples and well, other female parts that were clearly visible under the perfectly applied paint!
Speaking of girls, they were everywhere. The men however, were in short supply. Ahh, right, I was at the Playboy Mansion. It was a party by men, and for men, and I quickly realized that I was there for the viewing pleasure of the men in attendance. And do you know what; it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t care. I didn’t give a shit, because at this moment equality and feminism were lost words on my slightly inebriated soul.
My girlfriend, of course, made sure to show me every nook and cranny of the Mansion that was permissible to the public, both inside and out. I walked into the grotto, removing my dreadful shoes and tried not to slip on the slimy rocks. The grotto water was so warm, and there were naked people and clothed people everywhere, some making out, some having sex, and some gawking like we were. We went to the game room, we explored the entire place, ate drank, danced, and had fun and acquired our share of Mardi-Gras beads.
We had harmless fun. No one groped us, there was nothing sinful or debaucherously naughty about the whole night. You see, you only ever do what you really want to do, and all we wanted to do was have fun. We drank nice champagne, ate delicious food, flirted with celebrities, met some cool new girls, and had a blast. It was wonderful night. So wonderful that I woke up in my bed the next day wearing my sexy-outfit, as I had been too tired (and likely too drunk) to wash my face or even disrobe.
But that morning, I was the one who had the story to tell. And all of the efforts and the rejection and the humiliation and the work that went into getting into this party were distant memories.
Cute kind of works…
At the end of the day I realized that ‘Cute does work’ as my picture must have been okay, since I was invited back to the mansion. The Halloween party Mr. Hefner threw was legendary; the Midsummer Night’s Dream was exactly that, a sexy dream in the warm summer night.
I have also attended events hosted by various organizations that rented out the famous and infamous digs of Hugh Hefner. As fun as they can be, they do not begin to compare to the authentic Playboy Mansion parties that Hefner threw. Thanks to the magic, the mystique, and marvelous mind of Hugh Hefner—and a few good girlfriends—I am lucky to say that I was able to experience a part of history.
Of course there are tales I could tell from the handful of times I was at the Playboy Mansion, but that might be for another story… or maybe some things are better left unsaid.
Regardless, at 91, Mr. Hugh Hefner left this world a changed place. And I feel grateful that I was able experience what is now a part of Hollywood’s history.
As Hugh Hefner said “Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream”. And on that note I finish this story, as living your life to its fullest is always better than sitting at home by yourself. What did Liza Minnelli sing? “What good is sitting at home by yourself, come join the cabaret. Life is a cabaret my friends, come hear the music play.” Hugh Hefner heard the music play every day.
So the moral of this could have been and should have been but isn’t immoral story is….
- So my friends–don’t judge, have fun.
- Sometimes doing something outside of your comfort zone will teach you new things about not only yourself, but about life.
- This life is yours to make of it what you want… don’t be afraid to stir the pot and cook up something crazy once in a while. Because this memory, after all I went through to get into that damn party, is a sweet memory.
- And lastly, my last pontification for tonight, before I go and drink some red, red wine is… we know that every day is a gift, so don’t forget that when you are stressed out and troubled, or worried and frenetic… remember to just have fun, be as happy as you can, and… it will all be good