Book Review – Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison

by Maryse on July 5, 2015 · 15 comments

in My Book Reviews

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

I went back to my roots for this one and boy did she have a LOT to get off her chest. Haha. See what I did there? Roots? ‘Cause they’re blond. Chest ’cause… er.. well. *snort* Okay okay, rolleyes YESSSSS my corniness knows no bounds. ;)

But I did go back to my roots, with this one for real! My favorite books throughout my whole reading life were autobiographies (before I discovered romance books, of course). I always loved that “look” behind what the cameras showed. Or that journey into someone’s harrowing life. Someone that could have been us, ya know? What made these people (celebrities, or even those that had a story to tell due to a life circumstances) who they were, who they are… what made them tick, and all of the heartache and pain (or joy and growth) it took to get there. Usually a good mix if all of it. I LOVE THAT!

But I knew going into this one (told from the perspective of Hef’s MAIN girlfriend from “The Girls Next Door” reality series) that it would be a total guilty-pleasure.

Diane: We watched that show!!! I bet it’s fascinating

Sherry: I’ve heard its really good :)

Maryse’s Book Blog: I used to watch it too, so I couldn’t help myself when this one came out. I thought she’d be the LAST person to publish a tell-all for some reason…

Teri: I finished this yesterday. Very enlightening read! I want a Bridget tell-all now! She was always my favorite :)

Maryse’s Book Blog: I loved Bridget the most too!

Carrie: I want to read this :) Bridget was always my favorite!

I’ve always been intrigued with the story behind the Playboy empire and the beautiful women that adorn the pages. How glamorous they looked, and how “classy” the whole thing was even in all of it’s nude glory. I had read a few accounts from “scorned” bunnies of the past, and took a good portion of it with a grain of salt, even though I got a kick out of some of the jaw-dropping revelations).

But THIS one confirmed SO much of what I already suspected was true. Wow. That many ex-bunnies telling very similar stories? Yep!

I would have thought Hugh Hefner preferred his girlfriends sexy and retro, but his taste was surprisingly . . . well, cheap.

It’s her tale of starry-eyed dreamers, mixed in with sexy cunning women looking for a fame-launching trampoline, and controlling men that need to keep up appearances for their own egos. Symbiotic relationships at their finest. Or ugliest. ;)

Sure, the Playboy world, from the outside, is pure glitz and glamor. But the brilliance is wearing off. Once glowing and shiny, now heavily patinaed with years of strict, almost archaic rules, misogynistic and childish behavior and a formulaic, unchanging lifestyle. It is an odd, creepy, manipulative, claustrophobic bunny-hole indeed!

Here I was, an independent, successful woman, making millions of dollars a year (all on my own), headlining a hit show on the Las Vegas Strip, coproducing and starring in my own television show, and this woman was asking me if I missed the mansion?

Clearly the public perception of the life I shared with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion was a far, far cry from the actual reality I experienced.

I was SO excited when I realized one of my favorite from the “Girls Next Door” trio wrote her own tell all. But I kinda felt bad for my amusement. These “tell-alls” are often not very nice and I had a feeling it would be a finger-pointing fest. A lot of he-said-she said, and I know there will be some that are named in this book that will not appreciate the one-sided commentary. Stuff was mentioned that had me appalled. Mostly appalled at the wrong-doer (and boy was there plenty of it here). But I was sometimes even appalled at Holly for going “there“.

I always thought it would be classy to not kiss and tell . . . but after a while you just get sick of having other people trying to tell your story for you.

There’s plenty of… “bite the hand that feeds you” going on in here (by ALL involved).

Maryse’s Book Blog: It’s interesting for sure… I find it just a little hmmm…. catty at times (by her even, which surprises me, as I thought this one might be more respectful… even in it’s “truth-telling”). Like… I mean… a few low-balls, you know? Some “pot-shots” (making fun of) that I don’t always find necessary in the story telling…

Heather: Yeah, I just finished it too. You’re right Maryse, there’s a few moments where she gets a little mean unnecessarily and comes off holier than thou. Pretty good read though.

Teri: Yea, she made it sound like she was perfect and everyone else was so cruel to her. I took it all with a grain of salt.

Maryse’s Book Blog: For sure… I’m definitely gonna finish it today, though. I’m fascinated by it all.

But let’s be honest… it’s the “going there” that sells these books, right? ;)

Yet even with the occasional catty remarks, and overly-sensitive reactions and despite (and maybe because!!) I rolled my eyes a ton, I was wholly and highly entertained by Holly’s story. What I wanted? It delivered!

And you know what? I DID mostly feel for her.

I feel like she was telling the truth, and I was suffocating along with her, for the most part. Gah!! eek By the time she decided to leave, I was trying to claw my way out, with her. I couldn’t stand it anymore either, so I certainly can’t blame her. There’s only so much a person can take.

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.

“I’m an adult. I’m here because I choose to be. I’m here for adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m here as a stepping-stone to something else,” I routinely told myself. And perhaps the biggest disillusion: “I’m here for love.”

Deeper and deeper I fell down the rabbit hole.

Even though I suspect sometimes… her truth might not be quite everyone else’s. She has many (and mostly ONLY) complaints and bad things to say about a time period that I believe catapulted her into her personal success today. Yes, I agree with her  that her current independence and life success comes from her focused dreams and goals and all of her hard work and perseverance to get there. But there is no way that Playboy didn’t have a HUGE part in that (and continues to have a significant part of her ongoing success now), no matter how much she wants to distance herself from her old life.

She did what she felt she needed to do, to help her achieve her goals and her dreams.

I had to believe that there was a greater purpose for the choices I had made: whether it was to help advance my career or whether it was truly for love. And depending on the month, the week, and sometimes even the hour of the day, I would waffle back and forth between precisely why I was living a life as nothing more than “Girlfriend Number One” to a man who was old enough to be my grandfather. I didn’t want to admit that I had sold a bit of my soul for the chance at fame.

At times, as she describes it, her 7 year stay in the Playboy mansion gives off an impression of living like a “captive”, but let’s be real here. She was not. However it would appear (and I tend to believe) that her accounts of Hef’s emotional manipulation and hurtful remarks had a HUGE influence on keeping her from growing. Keeping her down enough that she would never leave.

In a few short months, I had gone from a friendly, optimistic, confident woman to a confused girl with a nervous stammer who second-guessed every thought that went through her head and rationalized every bad decision she made. I was so focused on “making it” and turning this bad decision I had made into something positive that I couldn’t see that all I was really doing was running faster and faster in circles trying to please Hef and simply stay afloat in his twisted world. I had no time or energy left to chase my dreams.

Sure, nobody was forced to stay (and plenty of bunnies left without issue or consequence). Sure, many didn’t achieve the success they were looking for, but she put up with a lot of bad behavior (lots of patience and grinning and bearing it) to get to where she is now. Or maybe her personal insecurities, coupled with his manipulative behaviors, mentally trapped her there. Hey… I’m no psychologist. ;) I can definitely see both sides.

Either way, she specifically chose Playboy to help her get there, and she did!

In fact, this book’s success? It’s our fascination with her life AT Playboy that has most of us devouring it. Just sayin’

But still… sometimes living amongst someone else’s controlling ways, furious outbursts (I believe it!!) unreasonable rules and expectations, a personal darkness sets in and you just can’t see that there is a way out. And I believe her turmoil and her personal struggle with her inability to leave. She was frozen, there. She was in a very bad place. Her own personal pain and darkness (brought about by her choices, or her impression of a “lack thereof”), had her sinking in his quicksand, and I’m SO glad she got out!!!

Hopefully, once you read my story, you will be able to understand why I made some of the choices I made . . . and why I also felt trapped by those choices. I hope that sharing my mistakes can prevent someone else from making similar ones, or give someone the courage to leave a bad situation.

It’s easy to judge (especially considering how many perceive she “made it big”), but she shows us all of her sides, in this one. I mostly bonded with the sweet, docile and “delusionally in-love” character “Holly” portrayed on the show, and continued to bond even more with her personal-side, in this book. Related to SO much of her own insecurities, shame, desires and fears. And she deserves happiness. After all, she may appear to be a princess straight out of a fairytale, but mostly? She’s just like so many of us!

Bad (and good) choices, catty moments, professional success, and finally… personal peace and joy (true success!). This story shows us that… most of all? Holly is human. And Holly is happy. :D

Loved it!!

4 stars!! (5 stars for the entertainment factor *if* you’re into this kind of book, Playboy, gossipy tell-alls and the like). ;)

P.S. When we got to the Criss Angel part of her life? OMG I couldn’t put it down. LOL!!! *gasp* RUN HOLLY RUN!!!!!


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel July 6, 2015 at 9:51 AM

I love celebrity tell-alls! Girls Next Door was a guilty pleasure of mine when it was on TV. Can’t wait to read this!

bev July 6, 2015 at 10:06 AM

I’m trying to remember what ones I’ve read.
Recently Stories I only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. Love the Outsiders portion, cause Patrick Swayze.♥♡
Patti Boyd’s was good but found it slightly sad. Keith Richard’s was fun. I really liked Chronicles Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan, now he just needs to write Vol.2. Levon Helm’s I read not long ago ( Love The Band) interesting to see his take on The Last Waltz. Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, and Lauren Bacall all have one if you want to go old Hollywood. Been awhile since I’ve read these ladies, but strong ladies. If remember correctly Ava & Lana were “friends” and told the same story, something to do with a fight with Sinatra. Except they each have their own version where they look a little better and take a slight dig at the other, lol.

Maryse July 6, 2015 at 10:37 AM

I’m trying to remember all the ones I read…

My favorites are Mommy Dearest, Slash, Marilyn Manson’s, The Motley Crue one AND Nikki Sixx’s (Nikki Sixx and Marilyn Manson’s really blew me away).

I also read a famous groupie from the 60′s and 70′s, another “bunnies” book, some child abuse ones that wrecked me (I know a Child called It was one of them), and Running with Scissors and the one right after that one…

I’ve read way more, but those are the ones that are bright in my head still.

bev July 6, 2015 at 11:09 AM

Running with Scissors I couldn’t finish. I won’t even attempt A Child Called It.
Oh, yes I’ve seen a groupie one, probably that one, I’ve wanted to read. Mind blank, but her name is so synonymous with that scene.
Though best groupie name, KH’s Strawberry Fields in Almost Famous. Need to watch it again love the scene when they all sing Tiny Dancer.

bev July 6, 2015 at 11:10 AM

Mommy Dearest, I’ve only seen the movie, oh man.

bev July 6, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Lol, sorry, one more. But talking of Playboy and music have to mention it. The John Lennon interview they did, Amazing. Sad as it was done and released right before his death. I’m not sure if the book they released is digital or not. If I remember correctly he was to give them a interview, but had spoke to another first who published their story first. So, to make it up he went over the whole Beatles catalogue. And just really open. Great read.
Ok, last one.

Maryse July 6, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Pamela something, right bev? I could swear that’s her name. She was in love with Jimmy Paige BIG time.

Maryse July 6, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Keep ‘em coming, I want to know more good ones. :D

Ummm I also read the Nirvana one that was so good!!

bev July 6, 2015 at 12:32 PM

Maryse, yes! de barres. Do you rec it?
Hold on.
*puts Going to California on*
Never read a Nirvana one yet. Really want to see Montage of Heck.
One you might like, its super good, is Glass Castles by Jeanette Walls. May bring the tears.
If you like SNL, Live From New York: as told by its Stars, Writers, and Guest had some backstage stories to tell.
Speaking of i can not believe I haven’t read Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, or Mindy Kaling yet. I think next library trip.
Now I’m sure I’m tapped out, lol.

Sharon July 6, 2015 at 3:44 PM

Pamela Des Barres, I’m With the Band – I read that one

Maryse July 6, 2015 at 4:26 PM

bev I did enjoy Pamela Des Barres, I’m With the Band (thank you Sharon!)

Wasn’t my favorite autobiography but I remember being into it…

My favorite however IS Nikki Sixx’s. LOVED it!

Amy July 6, 2015 at 8:34 PM

Reading this makes me realize that I have *never* read an autobiography…at least any that I can remember.

As much as I love angst in books, I don’t know if I could read about real life angst…something about knowing it really happened and it’s not just characters in a book makes my tummy all twisty, and not in the good way. :?

Melanie July 9, 2015 at 8:28 AM

I should read more biographies…
The Last Lecture has stuck with me.
Until I Say Goodbye: A Book About Living, too.

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia was interesting. I think there has been speculation about how much is truth, though.

Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness

Melanie July 9, 2015 at 8:35 AM

OK…that comment was a mistake, with my full name. Searching how to fix that but can’t find out how!

Maryse July 9, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Hi Melanie. Fixed. :D

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