Secrets of Playboy is an American documentary exposé series which lifts the lid of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire and the abuse that those within it suffered. The series will begin airing on Channel 4 as part of its True Crime season. Playboy, one of the most iconic brands in the world is worth several hundred million dollars - the Playboy Mansion alone was sold for £100 million in 2016 - but the company hides a dark history.
When Playboy was established as a soft porn magazine in the 1950s, Hefner explained that his ethos in creating the lads’ mag was to liberate women, but over the course of the documentary, claims that those who worked for Hefner were exploited for years are examined. This is everything you need to know about the documentary series:
What is Secrets of Playboy about?
Documentary series Secrets of Playboy looks behind the curtain at the dark parts of Playboy’s history. The men’s magazine was founded by publisher Hugh Hefner in 1953, staying in print until 2020 (the magazine continues to exist online) and spawning huge merchandising opportunities.
The documentary uses archival footage, interviews with those who worked for Playboy and even inside the mansion, and discovers how Hefner was able to create a mythology surrounding his brand.
Over the series, it is revealed how Hefner used his media empire to manipulate women and silence those who tried to unmask him. Interviewees speak about what life was really like inside the infamous Playboy mansion, which also features in the series through archival footage.
Secrets of Playboy features interviews with real figures from Hefner’s life, but the founder himself - who died in 2017 - is played by an actor, as are two others who worked for Hefner during his lifetime.
Sondra Theodore, a former Playmate and Hefner’s girlfriend from 1976-1981 (she was 20 and Hefner 50 at the start of their relationship) says in the documentary: “It was a beautiful world – it looked that way, but it was really ugly.”
Who stars in Secrets of Playboy
Mark Chinnery stars in the series as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in the series. The Australian actor has starred in more than 250 screen projects, mostly appearing in minor roles in Japanese language shows. Johnny Keith, whose credits include Baywatch, plays Hefner’s doctor, Mark Saginor, and The Bay actor Andrew Cereghino plays Stefan Tettenbaum, Hefner’s butler.
The rest of the cast feature as themselves - they include Hefner’s friends, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Joel Berliner, and Richard W. Bann, Sondra Theodore, one of Hefner’s girlfriend’s, and playmate Miki Garcia.
Is there a trailer for Secrets of Playboy?
Yes there is, and you can watch it right here:
When is Secrets of Playboy on TV?
Secrets of Playboy aired in the US in March and August 2022 and is now being broadcast on Channel 4. The series is made up of 12 episodes. The first episode airs on Monday 28 November on Channel 4 at 10pm. All episodes are expected to land on All4 after the first episode airs. Watch this space for updates on when future episodes of the series will be broadcast on Channel 4.