“We sign our names to support Hugh M. Hefner. From all we know of Hef, he was a person of upstanding character, exceptional kindness and dedication to free thought,” read the missive, obtained by Us Weekly on Wednesday, February 2. “He demonstrated a commitment to living an honest life beyond everything else. Our time within Hugh Hefner’s Playboy and the organization’s subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of.”
The signatories concluded the letter by calling the allegations detailed in Secrets of Playboy “unfounded.” Several of the participants, including some of Hefner’s exes, attached their own personal statements to the letter.
“All people should be encouraged to share their individual experience in this world, but no one should be emboldened to rewrite the truth at the expense of another person’s character,” said Kimberley Conrad, who was married to Hefner from 1989 to 2010. (The Playboy founder died in September 2017 at age 91.)
“What the allegers who speak out now seem to ignore is that there were many of us throughout the years who were there with them as well,” Conrad, 59, continued. “I’m saddened, mostly, that these accounts take light away from true victims of sexual abuse, and hope that in time those selling lies to defame Hef find peace within their own lives.”
The 10-part docuseries premiered last month and includes interviews with former Playboy employees and Hefner associates. During the Monday, January 31, episode, several participants claimed that multiple women were assaulted by members of Playboy clubs, a now-defunct chain of nightclubs founded by the brand in 1960.
“There were girls that were silenced after being raped in parking lots outside the clubs,” alleged PJ Masten, who worked in the clubs from 1972 to 1982. “In the 10 years that I worked for Playboy, I would venture to say that there were probably 40 to 50 young women that were silenced by Playboy because of abuse, sexual abuse.”
Multiple people interviewed for the show also alleged that Playboy attempted to silence them when they tried to speak out about their time working for the company. During the January 24 series premiere, former Playmate Miki Garcia claimed that Hefner himself sent someone to pay her off when she was working on a book. She eventually became so afraid of retaliation that she hired a bodyguard.
Shortly before the series debuted, Playboy issued a statement denouncing the brand’s founder. “The Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy,” the statement read. “We will continue to confront any parts of our legacy that do not reflect our values today, and to build upon the progress we have made as we evolve as a company so we can drive positive change for you and our communities.”
Secrets of Playboy airs on A&E Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.