Hugh Hefner was known as the ultimate womanizer… but was the love of his life actually a man?
That’s what Jennifer Saginor, daughter of Hef’s rumored “soul mate” Dr. Mark Saginor, thinks!
During an interview on Monday’s shocking episode of Secrets of Playboy, Jennifer explained that she grew up in the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles after her dad moved in with Hef to serve as the Playboy founder’s personal physician and wingman.
Over the course of their decades-long friendship, Jennifer claimed the pair became more than friends, but noted that their relationship was built on an escalating need to exploit and “break down” women in the bedroom — a bond many of the men in Hefner’s inner circle apparently shared, too.
If allegedly sexually manipulating women wasn’t bad enough, Jennifer claimed that the group of men went as far as to traffick aspiring actresses and models in a collection of homes constructed to emulate Hef’s famous mansion, aptly called “shadow mansions.” She explained:
“It became this predatory movement where the girls that didn’t make the cut at Playboy were really shuffled off into this underground system.”
This dark period apparently started when Hef was in his second marriage to Kimberley Conrad from 1989–99. According to Jennifer, when Hef was monogamous, there were few sex-fueled parties at his Holmby Hills estate. So the mogul’s friends began to set up “clones of the Playboy Mansion on a smaller scale” around El Lay so they could access a rotating door of fresh-faced ingenues to the Playboy way of life.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t hard to find a pool of young women who were flocking to Hollywood in hopes of becoming the next Anna Nicole Smith, Pamela Anderson, or Jenny McCarthy.
Jennifer Hatten, a Playboy Mansion regular, explained during the episode:
“The competition is so stiff to be a Playmate, so handful makes it, the rest slip through the cracks and get preyed on.”
“These scouts would invite these girls to these mini-mansions for these ‘modeling agency’ parties and offer them a place to live and offer them modeling contracts.”
Ugh. We know where this is going…
“The experience I had at the mini-mansion parties is, immediately walking in, having all the men glom onto you, offering you lines of coke or a bowl of ecstasy. If you refuse those, they’re trying to shove champagne in your face — who knows what’s in the champagne, if they’ve dropped anything in there. … So the grooming that’s happening at these mini-mansion parties is pretty obviously not for modeling.”
Hatten went on to reveal that at one party attended by Hefner, even superstar Anna Nicole was “on the menu,” adding:
“I got the feeling when we were at the party that she was up for grabs for whoever… That’s how it works, even for someone like Anna Nicole Smith, they’re used for a certain period of time, they are then easily disposable.”
Rachel Myers, a Mansion regular, said in the episode that she was introduced to the world of Playboy while working at a clothing store. To score an invite to the Mansion, she let an unnamed older man take photos of her bare breasts — something she thought was “normal” because “there were photos on the table of multiple women.”
While she did meet Hef, Rachel believes she was mostly treated as a sexual plaything for his aging pal. She said:
“I think there was definitely a learned behavior from the Mansion to the mini-mansions. These men got some ideas on how to manipulate women.”
Jennifer agreed, adding that she saw “fake photo shoots” the men had staged to preserve the ruse. She recalled:
“The girls were posing without their clothes on. I just remember walking in on them and being, like, horrified. These girls were clearly drugged and not coherent. Maybe they would also have somebody videotaping them, and then that videotape could be used as blackmail so they wouldn’t tell anyone or so that they’d sort of fall into this underground system of being available… Basically any powerful, wealthy man in Los Angeles who was on the guest list to attend the mini-mansion parties was given an opportunity to with particular girls.”
Unfortunately, Jennifer learned the hard way that even she wasn’t off limits, claiming that she survived her own sexual assault when one of her dad’s friends slipped something in her drink that caused her to black out. She shared:
“Before I knew it, I was out of body and came to with him trying to have sex with me, telling me I had to take my clothes off. I was in his bed, and the whole thing was so horrific.”
Jennifer confessed she felt “devastating” guilt over never offering any help or protection to the young women who “believed this was an opportunity to really move their dreams forward, when in fact it was really just all a façade. Very quickly they were crossing boundaries that they never thought they would cross. And once you’re on this path, it’s very hard to find your way out.”
As for her father’s relationship with Hef, Jennifer said the pair had a “spiritual connection” that the mogul shared with no one else, explaining:
“My father and Hef had a spiritual connection that I don’t believe any of these wives or girlfriends could ever compete against. Their friendship was, like, next-level. They were just like soul mates.”
Sondra Theodore, Hefner’s girlfriend from 1976–81, confirmed that the duo took their friendship to extremely intimate levels, telling cameras:
“They took things really far. They became more than best friends. They became .”
This was something Hef vaguely admitted himself in archival footage, telling Bryant Gumbel:
“When you’re involved in the swing period, the orgy period of the ’70s, there was more than a little bisexuality.”
According to Jennifer, however, the sexual aspect of the men’s relationship became “a little bit more sinister.” She shared:
“It wasn’t about connection. I do believe that with all these men, it was really about knowing that you had power over someone else… probably stemmed from their own childhood. Growing up, they were both these weird, nerdy guys who didn’t date a lot of women. So having control and power over these types of women at the Mansion was something that was very exciting.”
“There’s something, I think, very predatory, of course, about manipulating a girl to do things that maybe she wouldn’t have otherwise done. There’s some kind of rush in that. And then it’s like anything, you know, once you have something, you need more of that to sort of create the same feeling, so , ‘How do we recruit more girls? How do we bring in fresh meat?’”
Jennifer said she found unnerving evidence of her father’s increasing need for stimulation at his home, sharing:
“Once I moved into my father’s house, he had these different pictures of women on all fours, naked with a leash around the girl’s neck. When I would try to say something to him, he was like, ‘Well they actually like to be submissive. They want to be dominated.’ … He was on drugs at the time and offering drugs to these young girls. I remember walking into his bedroom and seeing these young girls really incoherent, and he would be injecting them with something. I grew up watching these girls come in looking one way and slowly becoming somebody that they probably don’t even recognize.”
In 2004, Dr. Saginor was accused of drugging a 19-year-old and forcing her to perform oral sex, as well as calling in a second man to take semi-nude photos of her. His medical license was suspended for five years — but according to his daughter, the doctor was more traumatized by the fact that Hef decided to ban him from the Mansion.
While Hef and Mark still spoke on the phone, Jennifer said her dad “was really upset that Hef would sort of turn his back on him in that moment, publicly,” adding:
“He felt that he was the fall guy, and he felt that he was a part of something much bigger. There are so many other men in Hef’s inner circle who were part of this underground system. The bigger picture is an operation that had been in place for many decades.”
While she was initially confused about why her father felt so betrayed by Hefner’s distance, Jennifer said she eventually “started to connect the dots,” explaining:
“It’s my personal belief that the love of Hef’s life was my father. Over the years, my father really gave up his family life, his practice, to be with him. I don’t know many men who would just basically give up their own life and then move into some other man’s house.”
After years apart, the two men reconnected toward the end of Hefner’s life. Jennifer said:
“When Hef was passing, the one that was by his side at the end was my father.”
In a statement released just before the docuseries’ premiere in January, Playboy‘s current leadership wrote:
“We trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”
For its part, A&E advised viewers:
“The vast majority of allegations have not been the subject of criminal investigations or charges, and they do not constitute proof of guilt.”
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