I picked up Down the Rabbit Hole after all the back and forth comments on blogs between Holly and Hef. I only ever saw two episodes of the Girl Next Door but I had a friend who was obsessed with the Playboy brand so I am aware of the backstory and tidbits. Overall it was a nice distraction. Both entertaining and filled with just the right amount of scandal.They did a decent job of finding the right quotes from Lewis Carroll’s works that described the coming chapter.
Of course I had my fair share of thoughts. First Holly mentions that around the millennium it became fashionable for women to be stupid, taking a jab at Jessica Simpson. Hmm didn’t she ever she watch Saved by the Bell or Fresh Prince where Lisa and Hilary were the popular and lovable airheads? Clueless? Even her idol Marilyn’s baby voice reeked of airhead. Somehow I don’t think this is a new thing. But maybe with fame seekers on social media it is more noticeable.
Holly opens by explaining how her intrigue with Playboy began. Someone gave her a Marilyn Monroe paper doll. Note to self Never give a little girl a Marilyn Monroe paper doll. Maybe a Marie Curie lab set? She wanted to be in Playboy because Marilyn was her idol and she was the first to grace the pages of Playboy. I’m surprised by this comment because Marilyn didn’t willingly grace the very first issue of Playboy. She had taken nude shots before becoming famous and when Hef launched the magazine he bought the images from a photographer. Marilyn Monroe did not chase the opportunity to be in Playboy.
Holly gets into ridiculous credit card debt for beast implants, all to end up working in Hooters and doing a brand ambassador gig for Hawaiian Tropic. Do I think she would have made it to the mansion without the surgery? Yes! After all, the Shannon Twins weren’t very busty.
Twice in the book, she compares Hef to Gatsby. No! Gatsby was in love with one woman only. He may have thrown great parties but he was a one woman man.
After scoring an invitation to a mansion party, she continues attending parties, harboring the hope she can land a pictorial in the magazine. Slowly as Holly is reeled in by Hefner’s girlfriends, she says, “As an LA transplant the concept of being fake was still a bit lost on me. Don’t get me wrong. I was familiar with fake tans, fake nails and of course fake boobs having already undergone my breast enhancement surgery but I didn’t have any idea how insincere and calculated people can be. It never dawned on me that the girls I was about to be spending a lot of time with had ulterior motives beyond simply being friendly and that all of their encouragement was just for show. As I’d come to learn, they saw me as a useful pawn in their twisted game of Playboy chess.”
Finally Holly finds herself in a tough situation where she may be left without an apartment. This is what encourages her to try to find a way to become one of Hef’s girlfriend, since one of the perks is free rent. She is surprised to find out she has have to have sex with him, because the other girlfriends always glossed over that bit of information. They made themselves seem like they were simple eye candy.
On the topic of reaching the inner girlfriend circle, she mentions that, “Vicky had quickly figured out that recruiting new girls effectively achieved two goals at once. not only would she most likely avoid having to have sex with Hef but she’d also earn his favor by bringing around pretty new young things for his enjoyment.” Holly had thought the girls were only nice to her because she was “plain looking” and non-threatening which I found surprising. I would think the reason is as she mentioned, getting Hef more girls made their job easier.
Later on as Holly moves into the mansion, I am surprised to find out Hefner wasn’t even divorced. All this time I thought he was divorced form his wife. The girlfriends perks include a weekly clothing allowance of 1000.00. That seems pretty fair considering, they also get free stuff. Hugh Hefner also pays for a nose job that I’m sure Holly didn’t even need. She even admits it gives her a short lived surge of confidence.
Amongst other big reveals in the first half of the book are that the Playboy necklaces are cubic zirconia and Hefner hates red lipstick. She wears it once, only to have him berate her, “You look old, hard and cheap.” Okay so the wording is really mean but the wrong shade of red can make you look all of those things at a time. I like red lipstick in theory but I feel like it doesn’t actually look great most of the time. Very rarely does it look classy. I always fall into the habit of putting on red lipstick for a night out because I love it so much but am always horribly disappointed in the pictures.
Later on Holly divulges that many Playboy models worked as escorts on the side. This is not too much of a shocker considering I’ve heard a lot of girls who don’t make it as models end up doing this. The fact is modeling salaries aren’t high at all. So if struggling models have a crazy amount of money for travel and brand name merchandise, there is usually a sugar daddy or work as an escort involved.
Between cracking down on Playmates who worked as escorts and girlfriends using him for fame, Hef stops allowing his girlfriends to be in the magazine. Eventually Holly works up the nerve to ask if she can ever be in it but Hef tells her she doesn’t photograph well. Obviously Hef told her she didn’t photograph well to make her think she was lucky to be with him, but even if that was the case it wouldn’t mean she is unattractive! Some people don’t know their angles or most flattering poses. It has nothing to do with how they look in real life.
Holly and Bridget become really good friends and tire of the other mean girlfriends who are bullies and hustlers. This is when they try to recruit a third girlfriend and Kendra comes into the picture. The most interesting thing Holly mentions is that Kendra lied when she narrated her meeting with Hefner. Apparently Kendra said in her book that Hefner just handed her the keys to the mansion when he met her. She didn’t even have to sleep with him. Of course, this seems unlikely and I haven’t read Kendra’s book but if she did lie, I’m glad Holly tells the truth. Too many young girls follow cheap paths to fame expecting a life full of glamour because people in those circles make it seem that way. And when they don’t get “discovered” the way their favorite celebrity mentions in an interview, young girls think it’s because they’re not beautiful or talented enough.
Once the Girls Next Door begins shooting, each girl is assigned a character. Holly’s character is supposed to be the “one who cared for Hef” in the show. I would think that would make it seem like she didn’t actually care about him, which she did. The girls are exploited on the show and told they are replaceable. This is pretty painful to read. I wish they had locked down and refused to do the show.
The girls seem to develop a nice bond throughout the show until the time comes to part ways. Holly reveals that Kendra secretly started dating Hank while living with Hef. Holly leaves Hefner too, growing tired of his controlling ways. She starts dating Criss who sounds more trouble in the short time they were together than Hef ever was!
Hefner moves on and Holly describes the changes in his life with his new more volatile and jealous girlfriend. I can’t help but feel bad for Hef at one moment in particular, when Holly talks about how confused he was when his new girlfriend suddenly ordered the guards to whisk him out of the club, without even giving him notice.
Later on there is some drama between Holly and Crystal. Crystal does a photoshoot exactly like Holly’s and Holly makes what she calls a “generic” comment on Twitter about hating copy cats. That seems a little mean, especially if she knew how much pressure there was to emulate Hef’s girlfriends. Why make that comment at all? It seems so High School of someone that has moved on and grown up. Just resist the urge! Yes, it is annoying when someone copies you but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is the sort of thing you vent to your friends about not on Twitter. Besides, maybe the creative team was the one that copied Holly and Crystal just didn’t know any better. Give the girl a break! You’re already more recognized than her and it can’t be easy for her to have fans pointing it out constantly.
She refuses to apologize because she thinks engaging in the battle makes Hefner feel fought over. Then why aren’t you keeping the peace? You’re doing what he wants, not the opposite.
Holly describes her falling out with Kendra. Although I think Kendra was definitely rude to Holly, Holly also fueled the fire. It is one thing to say it didn’t interest her to have Kendra work as her understudy for the live Vegas show but somewhat unfair to rant about her flaws. We can see all those things for ourselves. We all have a Kendra in our lives. Once Holly gets pregnant, her role is replaced by Coco. Really, isn’t that a much worse choice than Kendra? No wonder the show closed.
In the end, I am pleased that Holly found happiness and true love. On finding a man ready for commitment, she includes, “This is an important note. A man has to know what he wants. Don’t waste your time trying to change someone’s mind. It never works.” The book had a great moral of the story.
It is such a creepy coincidence Bill Cosby confessed to using Quaaludes to drug women this week because Holly reveals that the first time she went out with the girlfriends and Hef he offered her one saying that in his day they were called “thigh openers”.
I wondered a few things during this book such as why there isn’t a girls next door type series about a muslim man with many wives? I’d like that! It would be interesting wouldn’t it? Why were people so grossed out Big Brother but not by Girls Next Door? I never watched Big Brother but is seems like a similar premise…One guy with too many women. Can we get a tell-all from the Playboy mansion butlers? Is it a hard job to get? Is the competition fierce?
Lastly, as soon as Holly began to talk about her insecurity with her breasts I could feel myself getting annoyed. I swear every book I’ve read lately about women striving for fame brings this up. Karrine Steffans, Bobbi Brown, Pamela des Barres… I mean is low self-esteem a common factor amongst fame seekers? I work in fashion and the models who obsess over the size of their breasts are the most obnoxious to work with! They bring their self-esteem issues to the shoot instead of being professional. Everyone has an asset, everyone has good and bad angles that plastic surgery plays no part in and when you squander time and money on one single feature you’re convinced is deficient, you don’t learn to show your unique assets to their full advantage.