One Woman’s Childhood Trapped Inside the Playboy Mansion
What happens when you grow up in the Playboy Mansion?
In light of Hugh Hefner’s recent death, we thought it would be an opportune time to re-post an interesting interview we conducted with one of Hugh’s closest friend’s daughters, who basically grew up in the Playboy Mansion.
Jennifer Saginor grew up with unlimited gumballs, homemade cookies, pool parties everyday, no homework and no bedtime. Sounds like a fantasy land for children, except for the drugs, half naked playmates and Hugh Hefner.
Jennifer’s revealing and unbelievable story is documented in her biography, Playground. Her story is definitely not your average biography; in one case she discusses having witnessed her very intelligent father turn into a syringe bearing maniac, carrying around an UZI, paranoid the mafia was after his pounds of cocaine, which she discovered hidden in the bathroom. Her fantasy land had quickly turned into a nightmare that no one could save her from.
This video will give you an idea of what her life was like, and what’s covered in the book:
Today Jennifer hosts high stakes poker games in upscale cigar bars in Beverly Hills with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire to name a few. By night she ventures off into places she feels more at home, like nightclubs and after hour’s bars.
“On some level I still don’t respect women because I was conditioned to view them as whores, hookers, and commodities with a price tag.”
After reading all the juicy details of Jennifer’s memoir, including an affair with Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend at the age of 15 (yes Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend) there were many questions to be asked, and Urbanette Magazine sat down with Jennifer to get all the answers about her childhood and life.
Urbanette Magazine: The book begins when you are six years old, and you write in the voice of a highly intelligent child. Are the first few chapters based on what you recall thinking at that age or what you think now looking back on your memories of your childhood lost inside the Playboy Mansion?
Jennifer Saginor: I kept journals when I was in elementary school and high school and looked back at the entries I had written. At one point, I was so terrified in my father’s house that I took my journals and put them in a safety deposit box at a bank in Beverly Hills because I sensed my father was reading them. He would recite lines I had written and it scared me.
“I have adapted a bad temper. Quick disregard, and disrespectful comments fly out of my mouth when my emotional needs are not met. I was never taught how to be loving, nothing is ever good enough, and no one can ever meet my needs.”
Urbanette: During that time, you write that your mother seemed to be reaching out to you, can you tell us a little bit about her role.
Jennifer: My mother knew my father was a violent man who carried a gun. He was forceful, abusive, and extremely well connected. All of his police records have been magically erased. Even the most current news last April of him & Hefner and an underage sex scandal was never mentioned again after the Cindy Adam article in the NY Post. My mother was frightened of him and was too weak to save me from such a powerful figure. Instead, she lived in denial and told herself that I chose to move in with him because I was seduced by his extravagant lifestyle.
Urbanette: The enemy in your book is clearly your father; do you blame Hugh Hefner for allowing a child to have free reign in such a dangerous place?
Jennifer: I don’t blame anyone, although my father would encourage me to go up to the mansion by leaving me notes on the upstairs hallway floor saying: “I’m at the Mansion, come up if you’re bored.” What teenager wouldn’t want to go to a fantasy land instead of staying home alone in an empty house doing homework and eating dinner by themselves?
Urbanette: You specifically write about moving out of your mother’s home as a teenager and moving in with your father. You say that you were finally breaking free from the confines of reality and entering a fantasy land of enchanted fables. Do you still question, or regret the decision you made to move in with your father?
Jennifer: If I stayed with my mother, perhaps she would have taught me the basic survival skills of life that I did not learn at my father’s. However, my mother was never the nurturing, caretaking type so I felt very empty inside. She was self-absorbed with an aloof, cold demeanor. My decision to move out of her house was due in part to the emotional connection I started feeling towards Kendall (Carrie Leigh, Hefner’s girlfriend). If I had stayed at my mother’s house I would not be able to see Kendall every night. I yearned for attention and love so desperately; I began to seek it out at all costs. I misinterpreted Kendall’s attention and took to heart her words of “love” and “wanting to be together forever” because it offered me a sense of security, no matter how false it ended up being in the long run.
Urbanette: Was it hard for you to write the book and bring back all the memories and horrors you experienced?
Jennifer: It was very hard. The most difficult thing to deal with was the fact that not only did nobody believe the story but the power that empires like Playboy have to quietly influence people. Harper Collins almost didn’t publish the book unless I could find reliable sources to call in and give testimonials admitting they witnessed the underage affair and all the other absurdities that occurred. I was told to cut out 200 pages and watered down the true reality of all the characters and their actions.
Urbanette: As you write in the book the environment your father created taught you how to treat and critique women, it showed you how women were judged by their outer beauty, and also that women are disposable, expendable, and interchangeable and very quickly replaced after use. How have these teachings affected your relationships with men or with women?
Jennifer: I identify with men mentally because on some level I still don’t respect women because I was conditioned to view them as whores, hookers, and commodities with a price tag. Though another part of me longs for them on an emotional level because I am still searching for the nurturance, affection and unconditional love I never received as a child from my mother.
I have adapted a bad temper like my father, the same kind of quick disregard, and disrespectful comments fly out of my mouth when my emotional needs are not met. I was never taught how to be loving, nothing is ever good enough, and no one can ever meet my needs because I am searching for something I will never find, a mother.”
Urbanette: Do you ever blame Hugh for turning your father into the monster you claim he became, by introducing him to the environment and to the women that broke your parent’s marriage?
Jennifer: My father is a very intelligent nerd from Ohio. He was seduced by the lifestyle. He lost his identity by living in the shadow of Hefner. He devoted his entire life to Hefner, and some even say they were lovers. The only thing I think is pathetic is that they are no longer friends after 30 years because Hefner needed to distance himself for political reasons.
“…she was simply living by the rules of the Mansion at the time which included: inappropriate behavior, no sexual boundaries, and taking advantage of innocent minors.”
Urbanette: Your first sexual experience with a woman was at 15; in the book you wrote that you were both so young, both searching. Do you feel you were searching for a mother figure?
Jennifer: Yes, 100%. In every relationship with a woman, I end up expecting more than one person can give. I am on a constant search for the unconditional love I should have received from my mother and did not. When my needs are not met I lash out like an angry child.
Urbanette: Do you feel that she took advantage of you and your vulnerability?
Jennifer: Yes. She knew exactly how to manipulate me. It was not that difficult to figure out. Though she did take advantage of me, I truly believe she did not know any better because when you are caught up in a world with no restrictions or rules, everything inappropriate seems normal. So she was simply living by the rules of the Mansion at the time which included: inappropriate behavior, no sexual boundaries, and taking advantage of innocent minors.
Urbanette: You wrote that there are some people you will never forget. She is one of them (Kendall). Do you still think of her or miss her?
Jennifer: No, of course I do not miss her. She is a gold digger, opportunist who molested a minor.
Urbanette: You wrote: I’m used to the little voice in my head that believes the world owes me something and that civilized behavior is a waste of time. How has your outlook on life changed since then?
Jennifer: I was never taught the basics of how to get along. Conditioned as I was to see life through my parents’ filtered lenses, I slowly learned that everything is the opposite of what it had seemed. I quickly learned that I was not taught the basics of how to get along.
Urbanette: You are obviously still dealing emotionally with your dysfunctional childhood, which explains the uncertain ending to your memoir. Has publishing the book, letting out all of the skeletons of your past, and explaining your deep dark secrets to anyone who wants to read them helped you get some sort of closure from your past so you can have a better understanding for your future?
Jennifer: No. We are taught to love our parents but all I feel is rage. I wish I were still a little girl whose parents read to her and tucked her in at night; held her hand at crosswalks. Hopefully my next book Medicated, which delves into the aftermath of a traumatic childhood, will help me move on with my life.
Urbanette: How has publishing the book affected your life now? How has it affected your relationships with the people you mention, your mother, father, sister, and Hefner?
Jennifer: I don’t talk to my family; my mother, father or sister. I haven’t spoken to my father since I last saw him at the Mansion – before he went to rehab. My mother still lives in denial which is ironic because she is a well educated psychologist. She was not supportive of me publishing Playground. She said: “who would want to read about your life?” I told her: “I think my childhood was unique and many people may understand why I sought after love and affection in another woman after they read this, instead of being disgusted by it.”
Like my fellow classmates, the Menendez brothers, there is nowhere for kids to go if they are being abused at home in Beverly Hills. In many ways I can relate to their situation because their father was abusing them while their mother stood by and let it happen.
Urbanette: Supposedly Hugh Hefner made a public statement claiming your book is based on lies, including the sexual sighting of John Belushi in the secret grotto you write about having witnessed when you were six, and the Playboy channel you used to watch. What’s your side of the story?
Jennifer: He said to me “Jennifer you got a few dates wrong,” like he was correcting my math. The sighting of John Belushi in the grotto with a playmate was actually in 1977 a year and a half later than the mentioned 1975, and the Playboy channel may have been a porno, a six year-old doesn’t know the difference. If Hefner thought my book was all lies he wouldn’t invite me to his parties. I was just there for Halloween. He never told me any of it was lies, in fact he said it was well written and he hoped it would do well. Playboy is a publicly traded company, maybe he had to say that because he didn’t want to talk about me having an affair as a minor on his property.
Urbanette: It was reported in the New York Post that Kendall (Carrie Leigh) and her husband are planning the biggest libel trial against you and your publisher, HarperCollins, claiming she never molested you at 15. What is the truth behind this? Is she planning to take you to court?
Jennifer: This person is obviously a very desperate, bored housewife. How pathetic for some random person to come out and announce that she is Kendall. Basically what she is saying is “Hi! That’s me and I molested a 15 year-old!” What an idiot. In fact, I went out of my way to romanticize the affair instead of making it read like molestation.
Neither HarperCollins nor I are worried about some attention-seeking, money hungry opportunist claiming she is Kendall. I had witnesses who gave testimonies of my affair with Kendall, and love notes that she wrote that were proved to have been her handwriting. Mitch Rosen, Hefner’s limo driver and butler during the 80’s was a key witness at my interview with 20/20. He used to secretly pick me up at my father’s house with Kendall inside the limo. He witnessed us making out and explained how the affair seemed very “normal” because being bisexual at the Mansion was an everyday occurrence.
He said everyone at the Mansion, including Mr. Hefner himself knew of the affair. In fact, Mitch delivered cocktails to Mr. Hefner’s bedroom one night and recalls seeing me, Kendall and another playmate on his bed when I was only 17.
Urbanette: Since becoming a Playmate is obviously out of the question what are your plans for the future, career wise?
Jennifer: I plan to get more into producing, making a movie out of one of my books, either Playground or Medicated. I wrote a screenplay, a romantic comedy called stray (not gay, not straight, STRAY). It had Alicia Silverstone attached to star and produce, but it never got produced unfortunately.
Urbanette: With all that has happened, have you ever had the desire to be a Playmate?
Jennifer: My body is not for sale. I have enough body issues as it is. But I think it is a good opportunity for girls who don’t care if the world sees them physically naked.