Title: Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny
Author: Holly Madison
Genres: Celebrity, Autobiography, Memoir, Television and Film
“While there was a part of me that acknowledged the idiocy and superficiality that surrounded me, I fell for the glamour: hook, line, and sinker. It took years for me to realize just how manipulated and used I had been. I could never admit that to myself at the time, because to do so would have been to acknowledge how dark and scary a situation I was in . . . and how very little in control I was.”
Like everyone, I have my guilty pleasures. And one of them is watching American reality TV. And whether it be Bad Girls Club or Big Rich Texas, I use reality TV as a backdrop of my day-to-day activities. If I’m putting on makeup, or getting ready to go out, or even tidying my room, I’ll pop on a couple of episodes as something to entertain me as I do the mundane jobs. And whilst I was coming down after the sheer panic that was dissertation hand-in, I discovered a incredibly entertaining and silly television programme from the early Noughties.
The Girls Next Door was a long-running E! series focusing on the girls of the Playboy Mansion, particularly on the exploits of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends, Kendra, Holly and Bridget. The programme was highly comical, seemingly fake and featured a lot of blonde bombshells, which made for entertaining viewing and addictive viewing, and the three girlfriends each had their own personalities and quirks. From this I quickly became immersed in their day-to-day activities as they did photoshoots, appearances and promoted Playboy. And like with all reality programmes, I found myself liking one of the girls more than the others.
Holly Madison was considered Hefner’s Number One Girlfriend at the time, and I found her kindness, down-to-earth beauty and overall ‘normal-ness’ a soothing balm to the sometimes bizarre world of the mansion. So, when I heard that she was going to release a book which was going to be a tell-all version of what it was like to be a girlfriend, I immediately pre-ordered it.
Down the Rabbit Hole is firstly a memoir of Madison’s life, as she starts off as a small time girl from Alaska and ends up being a successful businesswoman, model, celebrity, mother and wife, and it’s secondly a never-before-told story of her experiences with living in the mansion, the relationships with the magazine mogul’s various girlfriends, the reality show, and dealing with Mr. Playboy himself, the octogenarian Hugh Hefner. Written in a candid and fairly honest manner, Madison reveals that the supposed ‘fairy-story’ that the reality show portrayed was far more twisted and dark, and that depression, boredom, drug-taking, bitchiness and isolation were the rife within the mansion. Her stories about living with being one of Hefner’s girlfriends, abiding by a strict curfew, doing pictorials, and just being in the public eye were interesting, as it shows another world that only a few have experienced, and I found this an interesting and refreshingly frothy read.
Now, despite liking Holly in the television programme, I did get a sense that she acted as though she was the victim within this book. There was an outstanding amount of ‘woe-is-me’. And yes, Madison admits that she did scheme, lie and manipulate some of the girls to get them out of the mansion and out of Hefner’s mind, but repeatedly, she gives us tales of her being bullied by stronger characters, and acts like she came out of it highly traumatised. It was only in the last 1/3 of the book that Holly became stronger and more settled in herself, and didn’t act too much like the victim. There are really important messages in this book, such as abusive relationships, depression and suicidal thoughts and just being happy without a spouse or significant other, but these are unfortunately overshadowed by her ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. But whether there is truth to the story or not is up to the reader.
But all in all, I enjoyed this book. In some places it can be fairly hard-hitting and just scandalous to read, but so is the world of the celebrity and Playboy. This book isn’t the best written, but nor does it act like it’s going to be. It’s simply the journey of a naive, celebrity Alice as she fell down the Bunny Hole, and how she emerged from the other side.
Author’s twitter – Click Here