Miki Garcia was a Playmate and head of promotions from 1973 to 1982. She’s one of the participants in Secrets of Playboy, a new documentary about Hefner and Playboy set to start airing on A&E.
The documentary series features several former members of Hefner’s entourage, reflecting and sharing their accounts of the culture they say Hefner created at the Playboy mansion starting in the Seventies.
“It was cult-like,” Garcia says at one point. “The women had been groomed and led to believe they were part of this family. And he really did believe he owned these women.”
She adds: “We had Playmates that overdosed. There were Playmates that committed suicide.”
Garcia says she thought about writing a book, because she thought “maybe all of this stuff would go away” if she did.
“Hefner even sent someone to buy me off,” she says. “When you get someone that powerful to be that fearful, anything could happen. Anything. I had a bodyguard. I was that afraid.”
Through a mix of interviews and archival footage, Secrets of Playboy , a 10-hour documentary series, will explore “how the Playboy machine was a powerful force that, at its worst, manipulated women in a toxic environment, silencing their voices, pitting them against one another, and opening the door to sexual predators”, according to A&E.
Ahead of the documentary’s release, the PLBY Group, the company behind the magazine and its related properties, issued an open letter seeking to separate the current Playboy magazine from Hefner, who died in 2017 aged 91.
“We want to reach out to you in light of the forthcoming A&E docuseries that we understand will recount allegations of abhorrent actions by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and others,” the statement reads in part.
“First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the 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, and anything less is inexcusable.”
It adds: “As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”
“Please join us in doing the most important thing we can do right now — listen,” the statement goes on. “It is critically important that we listen as these women share their stories and that we continue to fight harassment and discrimination in all its forms, support healing and education, redefine tired and sexist definitions of beauty and advocate for inclusivity across gender, sexuality, race, age, ability, and zip codes.”
Secrets of Playboy will start airing with a two-hour premiere on A&E on Monday (24 January) at 9pm ET/PT. The programme will also be available on demand and to stream on aetv.com and on the A&E app.