The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion - and finally the secret truth about the man who holds the key - from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef's former number-one girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door.
A spontaneous decision at age 21 transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner's number-one girlfriend. But like Alice's journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairy tale life inside the Playboy Mansion - including A-list celebrity parties and her own number-one-rated television show for four years - quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious mansion wasn't a dream at all - and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub, contemplating suicide.
But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.
In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.
With great courage Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams - and finding the life we deserve.
©2015 Holly Madison (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
I enjoyed this story and was interested in Holly's back story having watched The Girls Next Door. I listened to the whole book start to finish on a long haul flight and found that it lacked flow and narrative, the chapters would start on one subject but need to be backed up by other past events. Entertaining though and didn't require me to listen too carefully.
I found this book really good in the beginning. You can definitely relate to her struggles while young, and understand more about what drew her to the house and made her stay too long.
However it is peppered with random catty comments and weird references to how well she is doing now. I think if this book was restructured with some pointless stories removed (for example when she bought Kendra a matching skirt?), it would sound less one -sided.
Generally Holly is likeable and the first half of this book is great, the second half however falls into boring feuds and references to how much money she earns - hence boring.
Performance was great. Story was ok but i did find her very hypocritical and had a bit of a poor me complex. The story is told in more of an up beat way and its easy enough to not let it bother you because of that. Wouldn't have finished the book if it was not being read to me i don't believe.
A good read. A bit of tasteless bashing but still tolerable. I hoped to gain more insight rather than the superficial stuff laced with a bit of depth but for a light and easy read, the book did the job.
""Mean girls", magicians, mansions, and more!"
During the early 2000s my best friend and I (freshly out of high school) idolized The Girls Next Door. We bought the simultaneously sexy and wholesome act hook, line, and sinker. Although one got the feeling it wasn't perpetual sunshine and roses, it's clear life at the mansion was darker than it seemed.
Now that I'm approaching 30, this tell-all journey of personal mistakes and self discovery resonates with me on a different level. Despite her fame, and perhaps infamy, Holly's relatable struggles in her romantic and professional lives provided a humorous but thoughtful expose fraught with "mean girls", magicians, mansions, and more.
Holly is charming, although occasionally awkward in her phrasing, but decidedly mature and candid. Her "Alice in Wonderland" theme is nicely appointed by well chosen quotes at the begin of each chapter. This is the first memoir I've ever read, but I'm very glad I did. All together very interesting, and even slightly nostalgic.
"Holly knows how to tell a story"
I decided to pick this book only because I found the whole thing odd. But honestly, her story telling skills and performance make this audible book very enjoyable. While I don't know whether the whole story is true, I find that the book was entertaining. This book is meant to be an audio book.
"Entertaining but a bit one sided and snobby"
While I appreciate anyone willing to write about their life, their struggles, and their insecurities (some of the most seemingly confident people can't even summon the courage to do that), I feel that at times, Holly worked a little hard at trying to portray herself as the good girl. I don't know her personally, but you don't really have to know someone well to deduce that they at some point in their life did things they weren't proud of. I highly doubt that Holly, in her self described "prison" of the Playboy Mansion, surrounded by catty, conniving, women for almost a decade, never once did anything she wasn't proud of. I feel in order to write a true biography/memoir, one needs to tell the whole story and be truthful about who they were as a person at the time good and bad. This book was entertaining at best, it took me a few days to finish but I'm glad I did. I'd say, like a guilty pleasure TV show, this book will entertain you but don't expect it to insight any reflection or deeper thinking after its done.
"Good beach read."
I never bought anything Hugh Hefner was selling. Not his cheap, trashy, idea of beauty, not his bs idea of the "playboy lifestyle" and definitely not the girl's next door. So I was actually kind of interested in Holly Madison's story. It's an easy, dishy, funny read and to be honest she's the least interesting part. Once the story gets into her post-mansion life it gets boring. It's definitely something for a long boring plane/car ride! By the time you're through the good stuff you'll probably be at your destination.
Really really good couldn't stop reading. Highly Recommend to anyone that wants a interesting book.
"Don't Fall for the Shameless Tricks!"
I was so excited to listen to this and the anticipation to read it continued to build as Holly Madison shamelessly promoted her new book; however, as I listened to her audiobook, I felt like I was the one spiraling down the rabbit hole. The first 4 hours that I listened to, I was at the edge of my seat! Then, the next 3 hours, I was slightly losing interest and was hoping for more depth. The final 3 hours, I was completely over Holly Madison and her pathetic attempt to bash a host of people, all of which included Hugh Hefner, Kendra Wilkinson, and Criss Angel. She seriously played the victim, THE ENTIRE BOOK (with the exception of the last hour, in which she describes her current husband and the birth of her child *rolls eyes*).
Without a doubt, this book was destined to be excellent; but, only if she took some accountability. She complained that Hugh Hefner was essentially a controlling womanizer, but she didn't want to accept the fact that she was a glorified whore! How could she admit to asking to stay in the Playboy mansion because she had no where else to go and she hoped that it would lead to an acting career, all while calling the other equally ambitious girls, "Hefner's concubines"? As if she was innocent in everything! Absolutely appalling! There seemed to be a double standard when it came to Madison and everyone else.
I believe Madison was attempting to shock readers into disliking the legendary Playboy founder, but instead, I lost all respect for her. This story was one lame excuse after the other, no sense of accountability, and an utter waste of listening time. I am very disappointed.
"The other side of Girls Next Door"
Like many fans that read this book.. I was a hardcore fan of the Girls Next Door. I always appreciated Holly in the show but found her somewhat cold and distant. Just as I hoped this book tells why. Things aren't always what they appear. I appreciate her honesty & willingness to open herself up to again more criticism. It was nice to actually hear her tell her story & im sure it was the final stage of letting go. I'm proud of her & really didn't want the story to end. Good job Holly!
Holly was candid and honest. At times you will cringe at her honesty regarding Hef and the other playmates.
"I couldn't finish it"
I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend. It's very upsetting. I had just finished reading "Under the Banner of Heaven" about the Mormon Fundamentalist Church and chose this book as a lighter option after that heavy a read. It's not. It's unsettlingly similar to the themes of that book and the manipulation explained used to keep plural wives docile. You can clearly tell that the author is not over her experiences and taking a lot of frustration out on the other women in her similar situation. I feel terrible for her, but the book is ultimately sort of poorly written and I just couldn't subject myself to it anymore.
"Enlightening, sort of..."
If you were at all a fan of The Girls Next Door, you will want to snag this read. I will admit I was addicted to the show and found it a rather entertaining reality show. Holly was not a favorite, but I did not fully dislike her. According to her, from this book, she was playing a part and was not actually obsessed with Hef. Take that as you will, she makes many such claims throughout the book.
It is interesting getting the behind the scenes of the Playboy Mansion and the show in general. It is a very slanted view, Holly seems a touch bitter about things at times. Here is the deal, you are living in this guy’s mansion, he is providing everything for you, and yet you say you feel trapped. Trapped by your own greed or quest for fame? She says she had to stay because she had no other options, um none other than getting out there and getting a job and paying your own way? I just cannot feel sorry for her. You were dating him, so yeah he will expect sex. You are living in his house, so yeah he can make rules for living there. It is the whole golddigger mindset I disagree with. She had options, she decided not to take them, instead she blames the old man for keeping her locked in a gilded cage.
I did enjoy hearing the dynamic of the relationship between the girls. The harem before the show sounded like a group of mean girls vying for the Queen Bee spot. Again, she was in a situation of her making and had plenty of options for an out, she just doesn’t take them because it is easier to be a pampered pet. It was very interesting to hear about the Madame scandal and how many of the girls were involved. Of course, never Holly, she only sleeps with one old man for money.
All the behind the scenes of the show was enlightening. We all know there are things set up just for tv on reality shows. This was no surprise. What was shocking is that the girls were not being paid for doing the show. Ok, I know this sounds like a 360 after what I already said about them being taken care of by Hef. What I am talking about are the union rules that govern TV, even Reality TV. There are set rates they should be paid, however, according to Holly they only received payment for the Playboy shoot and far less than the norm. It would be easy to argue that their wages should have gone to Playboy, because they were footing the bill for everything from room and board to spending money. I am just confused about how they managed things with SAG/AFTRA regulations.
There was one moment in the book that really stood out. The girls were talking to producers about getting paid and signing contracts, they were being “difficult” and were told “you are replaceable.” This is something I highly disagree with, especially because we see how the show flopped later when the girls left. That combination of those three girls really worked, for whatever reason they were entertaining. There was just a natural vibe among them that felt genuine and made you want to watch and route for them, even Holly.
The last part of the book is about how things went after she left the show. An ill-fated romance with Chris Angel, who sounded scary from Holly’s POV. Her own breakout stardom on Dancing with the Stars, her time staring in PeepShow and her own reality show Holly’s World. Through all of her successes she is very I did this on my own, when in reality without having dated Hef, she would not have done any of it. She hates references back to her time with Hef and feels it takes away from her hard fought freedom, again biting the hand that fed her for so very long.
I promise much eye rolling while reading this book. I did the audiobook, because it was something to do on my commute. It is read by Holly, who does a nice job telling her own story. Unlike other celeb bio books, I did not feel like we were pals after the read. She just had too much of a passive aggressive vibe that spilled over into her storytelling. She was also way too concerned in letting us know she isn’t a blonde bimbo, trying to pack as many fifty cent words and smart references in as possible. Is that the real her or a brilliant ghostwriter? We may never know.
Amazingly honest book by Holly. I couldn't stop listening! My heart melts for her as she's clearly suffering from mental/emotional abuse throughout her time in the mansion.. But she pulled through! And that's all that matters.
I used to enjoy watching The Girls of the Playboy Mansion so this insight into Holly's life there and subsequent success was really interesting. She narrated it well
"An insight into a secret world"
Holly doesn't leave a thing out! This is a tell-all, but the classy sort. She doesn't detail crude things - but yes, you will learn about sex in the Playboy Mansion; so don't worry about that! It's an eye opening book. Light hearted, easy listen/read, with juicy details throughout. On the serious side, you hear about emotional abuse, depression and the ridiculous rules the girls were placed under; control was a key factor in the Playboy mansion.
"Great Insight to the Playboy Mansion"
I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Playboy or who watched Girls of the Playboy Mansion/Girls Next Door
It was a great insight and answered the questions a lot of people have about Hef and his girls... Did they really have sex with him? Did he pay them? What are their motives? etc. I thoroughly enjoyed it but it made me miss GotPM/GND, I wish they'd repeat it on E!
"I was expecting more"
most of the info was already seen on girls next door. the rest is a bit bitchy
"Three cheers for Holly!!!"
Thank you Holly for this eye opening and inspirational story. So excited for your future.
"I really loved this book. well worth getting!!"
loved this book. It gave a perspective that wasn't shown on The girls next door. I really thought Holly and co had a dream life and she stayed because if her live for Her but hearing her version now makes things I saw click. I like that she entered into a world she thought would be very different to what it turned out to be. She was upfront and open about her experience and I used to think these girls are with this old man for money but that doesn't seem the case for all of them. I loved Bridget and Holly but always found Kendra a little over the top and selfish. This book was amazing and I'm so glad I got it. even better is Holky telling her story to you. I do think Crystal is jealous of Holly but why she did an interview claiming not to love hef. Her sounds like a total diuche but if your homeless gave no money etc that's the kind of girls he takes advantage if. He does look ridiculous with these young women and it sounds like when they move in they either cater to his wishes or there out. It sounds liieva prison with all the rules. Ivsay well dine Holly for opening up esp not right away were you could of made a lot of money for a tell all. I'm glad you've found happiness and if any sensible young girl reading this decides to choose that life more fool them. I gave this entire book 5 * I'd ofcgavevit 10 ifvi could. thanks again for sharing.🙂
"A very enjoyable tale!"
I'm really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book having finished in less than a day and a half! I loved the girls next door show and watched religiously until the girls departed. I always knew there was more going on behind the scenes at the mansion than what was pictured in the show and I'm happy to know I was right! A really enjoyable story read well my Madison. I half expected the performance to be pants but it flowed really well and she comes across as quite eloquent throughout. My only tiny annoyance was the Alice in wonderland quotes. They're appropriate to the chapters but holly reading them in her version of an English accent was annoying! Otherwise really enjoyed the whole thing!
very good untill last few chapters. just in my opinion it got draggy near the end. most of it was very good and really enjoyed it.
i loved the whole book i was sorry when it was finished and i would love her to write second one...
i cant answer that because i watched her reality show and i liked it.....she was such fun positive person
both at the times....
loved it.......her voice is great to listen to as well...always a big big plus....sometimes i acnt get into the book because of the voice..
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