Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Sondra Theodore is coming forward with shocking allegations about the Playboy founder.
The magazine empire is being explored in a 10-part A&E docuseries premiering on Monday titled “Secrets of Playboy.” The special will feature new interviews with the former Playmate, along with numerous members of Hefner’s staff and inner circle. Hefner died in 2017 at age 91.
In response to doc, a spokesperson for Playboy issued a statement to Fox News.
“Today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy,” the statement began. “We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security, and accountability are paramount.”
“The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences,” it continued. “We will never be afraid to confront the parts of our legacy as a company that do not reflect our values today.”
“As an organization with a more than 80% female workforce, we are committed to our ongoing evolution as a company and to driving positive change for our communities,” the statement concluded.
Theodore talked to Fox News about why she’s speaking out now, what it was like meeting Hefner at 19, as well as what compelled her to finally leave the Playboy Mansion.
Fox News: Why did you come forward with your story now?
Sondra Theodore: I had been trying to come forward with my story, along with [former Playmate] Miki Garcia, for the past 10 years. And we were blocked at every turn. We had people who were interested, and then all of a sudden they weren’t interested. We were being shut down. We prayed for a woman like [filmmaker] Alex Dean to come along, a strong woman who was brave enough to take on Playboy and show us in the good light. We found that only a woman could really understand our stories.
All of a sudden, she was in our lives. We thought, “She’s here.” So we decided to go ahead and do it. It was difficult for me, especially going back in the public eye. I’ve been living a really quiet life on a mountain. And I really liked it that way. But this was just too important. We had to do it. We had to get the story out.
Fox News: How did you meet Hugh Hefner?
Theodore: I was invited to go up to a party at his house with my high school best friend. I really didn’t have a concept of who he was. I told my mom, “I’m going to Howard Hughes’ house.” *laughs*. She goes, “He’s dead!” And I said, “Well, there’s this other guy with a HH in his name – it’s Hugh Hefner.” She immediately went, “Oh no, please don’t go up there.” I told her, “Don’t worry, I’m going with my friend and we’re coming back home together.” We wanted to check out what the party was all about. We ended up being introduced to him and he then took us on a tour of the property, just the two of us.
Fox News: What was your initial impression of Hugh Hefner?
Theodore: He was very, very charming. I’m a 19-year-old girl who went to LA to be an actress. I felt like my world was becoming wonderful and I was meeting my prince. He had all the smooth moves and knew exactly what to say. We went back to the house and we started dancing to a Barry White song called “Baby Blue.” By the end of the night, my nickname was Baby Blue. I was in love before the night was over.
Fox News: How quickly did you become his girlfriend?
Theodore: Right after that first night. But I didn’t move in right away. That took about six-eight months. … He started introducing me as his girlfriend and I became a Playmate right away. Things just started snowballing, and before I knew it, I was there for over five years.
Fox News: When did you first realize something didn’t feel right to you?
Theodore: I worked really hard to become an actress. My phone had been ringing off the hook. I’d go from one job to another. My star was shining. And then all of a sudden, my phone wasn’t ringing anymore. I mentioned it to [Hefner] and he said, “You don’t need to work anymore.” I didn’t understand it. … I remember he had security follow me. He said, “You’re my girlfriend, I get death threats and you could be a target.” Something in my gut told me this didn’t feel right.
When we broke up, a publicist told me I was supposed to be in a movie with Mary Tyler Moore, which would have been a big career move, to play her daughter. But he wouldn’t let me. I also learned from an executive that a memo went out, saying that nobody was allowed to tell me of any work coming in. And if I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t leave. He kept me secluded and pretty much under his thumb.
Fox News: According to the documentary, Hugh Hefner wanted to “party,” which was a term he used for something else that made you very uncomfortable. How did you make sense of it the very next day after it happened?
Theodore: You have to remember that it didn’t happen overnight. I was groomed. It was a slow grooming to get to that point. And he broke me. He kept on and on about it. Finally, I made a deal that I would try it once and if I didn’t like it, he couldn’t make me do it anymore. You know, just leave me alone about it. Before then, every time he would ask, I would say, “Never, it’s never going to happen. It’s never going to be part of my world.”
We started with just one girl. I’m not bisexual. I’m not gay. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I put that out there. It’s not something I would have ever pursued outside of being with him. But you have to understand, I fell in love with him. I was 19. He used to tell me things like, “We could be together forever if you did things that pleased me.” I didn’t have a prayer. … But the girls, we formed these incredible bonds. None of us were doing any of this outside of the mansion.
It was something that we just did for him. Why? Because we were young and stupid. That’s the bottom line. And then drugs were introduced, which made everything easier. But it was all playacting. How did I make sense of it? I didn’t. I buried it so deeply. … I later realized how damaging it can be to a relationship in the end. I think any time you involve a third, fourth, fifth person in your relationship, things are going to get sticky. I would eat a worm or jump off a cliff than go into that situation ever again.
Fox News: What goes through your mind when you see those photos of you and Hugh Hefner together?
Theodore: It’s like I’m looking at somebody else’s life. … I know it was me, but I’m still baffled by how he got me to twist my world so completely. And it was all for him. He used to say that Playboy did incredible things for these girls. And in some ways, yes, it gave us power over ourselves. But not really because behind the scenes, we were being manipulated and used for his pleasure, for other men’s pleasures up there. Behind the scenes, they were taking such gross advantage of these young girls.
We were barely out of our teens. I was still in my teens. We hadn’t seen the world. We hadn’t had our adult lives yet. We were just entering it. And he had. He had been married, divorced, had children. He was 50 when I met him. He was on top of his game. Playboy was on top of its game. People were enamored by him. I felt special.
He used to tell me that he had never liked a girl as much as he liked me. How he would love to have a child with me. How we were going to live happily ever after. He made me believe in all of those things. … He knew it was not going to last. It was just temporary. But how cruel to play a young girl that way.
Fox News: What do you think was your breaking point?
Theodore: The last year of our relationship was the scariest for me. He started taking acid every night and he would put it in my mouth. I would wait until he turned around and then spit it out because it was way too intense for me. Way too much. And it lasted so long. When sex was done, he’d say, “Now it’s time to have dinner and watch a movie.” And then he’d go to sleep. I thought, “How can he do that? How can he just turn this powerful drug off?” I never saw him drunk. Never, ever slurred. I just thought he made a deal with the devil. And I know it may sound crazy, but I could see the devil in him and it would scare me.
I would slip out of the bedroom and go hide. The next day he would go, “Where did you go? How dare you.” But it was all worth it to get away from that. And at that time, there were always girls coming in. I remember there was one particular girl who pretended to be my friend. She wanted to be my best friend. She was really after my position.
But by then, I was just so over it. I was going to be 25 and I started questioning him. He didn’t like that. He didn’t like to be challenged in any way. So I was an easy replacement. And I was ready. I was becoming difficult. I was trying to hold him accountable, but he didn’t want to hear any of that. He just wanted the story to continue. So he kept replaying the same story with a new face.
Fox News: The documentary claimed Hefner used to have something called “Pig Night” where. allegedly, prostitutes were brought up for sex parties.
Theodore: I remember people were coming over and I didn’t question it at first. But when I first heard about it, I had no idea what it meant. I snuck down the hall to find out what “Pig Night” was. There were all these young girls with these men wearing gold chains around their necks and presenting them. They all ended up in the grotto. All these faceless women had been brought up through those gates and blatantly used. They would wake up the next morning hungover, like “What happened to me?” It was awful. I just wanted to reach out and make them feel better and let them know it wasn’t their fault.
But I didn’t have a prayer. I was a young, naïve girl myself and he was an older man. I thought I’d met my prince, maybe the prince of darkness. I had no idea how twisted his world could be. Anything taboo, he wanted to try. He took me to a sex club that had opened on Sunset [Boulevard]. I was still 19. I didn’t want to go. I begged him, “Please don’t let me go.” It was him, myself, his best friend and security. We walked in and I was just horrified.
It was dark and, can you imagine a club where people went to have sex in front of everybody, with everybody? I was just so sick. I begged to go home or at least go back to the car. Finally, he let me go and security took me back to the car. I felt embarrassed even just watching. But those are the kinds of things he did to break me, to see how far he can push me. He wanted me to believe that our lives were better than anyone else’s.
Fox News: How would you describe your life after you left the Mansion?
Theodore: I don’t know if they had the term [PTSD] back then, but I know it affected me in a lot of ways. Certainly with relationships. When I left that property, I had things done to me all those years. I had forgotten how to fit in. I couldn’t fit in. I didn’t know what to do with myself. All those girls that were sent out back to society struggled to find themselves. I hope they went on to have a normal life, something they could be proud of. I know for me, that took a long time.
Fox News: How do you feel now that you’ve spoken out?
Theodore: I hope my kids can be proud of me for it. I hope they’re proud of me for coming forward. They’re my salvation. My children would say, “It’s the past, forget about it, move on.” Well, I am moving on. I’m moving on by telling the true story of what happened, so that doesn’t keep happening over and over again with another Hugh Hefner. Because there’s always going to be a Hugh Hefner out there.