As the Unofficial Historian and Expert of All Things Southern California, I want to make it clear that while Disneyland may be the “Happiest Place On Earth,” the place everyone wants to see is The Playboy Mansion. That, truly, is the “place where dreams are made of [sic].”
Some time ago, I had the honor of attending the Playboy Mansion, and by “honor” I mean that I was employed to be there, and as a result was privy to the secret entrance around back. And by “privy” I mean forcefully directed to the door that doesn’t appear on any Star Map hawked on Hollywood Boulevard, the one marked “Deliveries Only.”
It didn’t take long to figure out that the entire Playboy Mansion, including the grounds, is a highly scheduled, and very busy, rental facility. Photo shoots, film shoots, VIP parties, award ceremonies, all run smoothly and are tightly controlled like a fine Swiss watch. With boobs.
Everyone is suspiciously kept away from the main house – the house where we all assume that Heff is hanging out in his smoking jacket, arms around some gorgeous bunny one-fifth his true age, smiling the smile of a man living Heaven on Earth.
On an exacting schedule, people are ushered through all the highlights as rapidly as possible: the Game Room *snicker, snicker*, the room with the cushioned floor surrounded by mirrors *giggle*, and of course the famous Grotto. Playmate-ish girls appear suddenly from secret entrances and disappear just as quickly, before anyone can get a chance to see if they really had a shot with them.
All the rooms, including The Grotto and it’s accompanying changing rooms and bathrooms, look exactly like what we imagined they would look like back in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Which means they haven’t been updated since then. At the risk of spelling it out even further: same decor, same carpet, same . . . everything.
When it finally became clear to me that the entire Playboy Mansion and grounds are really just a big stage show, I really started to wonder what was going on “backstage.” It has to be pretty damned special and awesome in a sleazy adolescent way, right?
Well, it’s a good thing that the blood and spit oath that I took, swearing me to secrecy, has a statute of limitations, because if word of what I am about to tell you were to leak out to the world, millions of adolescent boys, and men who need to get on with their lives and ask a real girl out, would be hosed down with a literary cold shower spraying at the PSI of a water canon.
I snuck away from the main group and slid through a side door into the main house. No male who ever turned a tri-fold magazine centerfold sideways could possibly be prepared to see what I saw.
The mansion is actually a giant set wall hiding Hef’s true home: a double wide plopped down on a patch of dry grass, with old rotting sofas spread around like lawn furniture; and there was The Man himself, dressed in a stained wife-beater and boxers, sitting on an upside down keg clutching a Pabst Blue Ribbon and pulling hard on a Kool Menthol.
As Hef exhaled a cloud of smoke and hacked up half a lung, a familiar playmate from The Girls Next Door came in on a break and, like backstage at Disney when Pooh takes off his giant head, unzipped her curvy costume to reveal a 68 year old, chain-smoking grandmother from Palmdale, cursing and swilling from airline bottles of cheap whiskey, her image of youthful sexiness pooled around her feet in a puddle of plastic, rubber and silicone.
I ran as fast and as far as my middle-aged legs would take me, and then took a cab the rest of the way. Yes, the Playboy Mansion truly is the place where dreams are made of.
Nightmares. With boobs.