Hugh Hefner’s Widow Crystal, reveals how she’s moved on from her toxic marriage

“Now people are finally realising that it was hard and weird..."
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Looking more Girl Next Door than Playboy bunny, a tanned and relaxed Crystal Hefner laughs out loud when asked if she would want any daughter of hers to pose naked for a men’s magazine, let alone marry a famous man 60 years older than her. “I don’t even know if Playboy will still be around when I have a daughter. I feel like it’s going down the tubes,” predicts Crystal, 37, who claims the experience left her suffering PTSD – and desperate to escape the “toxic and empty” mansion.

The former centrefold famously married Hugh Hefner in 2012 when she was just 26 and he was 86 – after meeting him three years earlier and moving into the Playboy Mansion to share him with his 18-year-old twin girlfriends, Karissa and Kristina Shannon. “I think it’s important to tell the story from a different lens other than Hugh Hefner’s lens,” Crystal tells WHO magazine from the “tiny house” she now calls home in Hawaii, where she went to recover and heal after his death in 2017 at age 91.

Watch Below: Crystal Hefner talks married life with Hugh Hefner.

She kept quiet about the dark side of life in the Playboy Mansion because Hugh asked her to promise to “only say good things about me” on his deathbed, but decided to tell her own story after extensive “deprogramming”. And she’s spent the past 18 months collaborating with an author to write a memoir called Only Say Good Things – which does anything but! Her book details how she became a lonely and isolated woman who was made to look like a sex doll with breast implants that poisoned her body and hair that fell out from being bleached blonde to match her Playboy Bunny image.

“It was a place where you lose yourself, and your values are skin deep. You just lose sight of who you are and fit this mould. Everybody has to fit the mould. It was a toxic place and kind of an empty place,” Crystal says. “I met thousands of people there and maybe have only three friends from it. People kept up this façade of glamour for so long. Girlfriends and wives of his kept up this illusion that behind the scenes everything was great.

“Now people are finally realising that it was hard and weird. I have PTSD and I don’t know what it’s like to have healthy relationships or friends. I wasn’t allowed to travel or have male friends. I look at old pictures of myself and I look like a sex doll!”

The 37-year-old now resides in Hawaii, where she went after the Playboy mogul’s death back in 2017. (Credit: Getty)

It’s little wonder that Crystal needed to be “deprogrammed”, a term more commonly associated with people escaping cults. But then in many ways the Playboy Mansion was a cult – of power, sex and corruption that Hugh ruled over with strange curfews, conditions and requirements.

When he died, she sought out a therapist who specialised in “high profile weirdness”, and who had treated one of Michael Jackson’s victims, to try and help her find herself and help her learn how to live a normal, healthy life. “Hef loved me the best way he knew how, and I think that is hard when you are misogynistic and a narcissist. He could be very kind but he was both of those things as well. That’s why in the book, it’s not like Hef is a superhero or a villain,” she says.

“It was a place where you lose yourself” (Credit: Getty)

Crystal, who froze her eggs when she was married to Hef but never wanted to have children with him, isn’t ruling out motherhood in the future. For now, though, she’s happy focusing her energy on healing, catching up on lost time, and building business opportunities.

It’s part of why she has thrown her considerable celebrity power (she has over three million followers on Instagram) behind the First Ape Wives Club (FAWC), a collection of 10,000 NFTs (digital non-fungible tokens) launched by Aussie tech entrepreneur Amanda Archer. “I’ve lived a life that not many people can experience or have had experiences that will never be replicated again. I’m still healing, and trying to find real and healthy relationships, but no, I don’t have any regrets.”

Preorder Only Say Good Things, Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself by Crystal Hefner, Here

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