Jill Ann Spaulding has her French-manicured paw on the pulse of the zeitgeist. She was playing Texas Hold 'Em poker at the professional level before the average hipster knew a burn card from a big slick. She was a supersatin platinum doll before Hugh Hefner started collecting 'em all. And now, this former Playboy model and card shark is playing on our collective lust for all things confessional. Her new book, Behind the Scenes in Hef's Playboy Mansion: The Sex, Fun, & Romp 'n' Roll is due out in May and dishes premium dirt on Hef's messianic goatishness. (And any book that gets an endorsement from someone named "Ivy Supersonic" is worth checking out, no?)
Spaulding, unlike most Playboy models, managed to infiltrate the Mansion's infamous upstairs, where she spent some unclothed quality time with Hefner's infamous cadre of "girlfriends"--young women who reside at the Mansion in a surreal, silicone-enhanced version of polygamy. What she discovered was rampant unsafe sex, stringent (and weird) rules of decorum for any woman who accompanied Hefner in public, and more cattiness than a no-kill shelter. Speaking from her home in Arizona, Spaulding shared her insights on life in Hef's topless sorority:
City Pages:Why do you think so many of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends are reluctant to admit that they actually have sex with the guy? One would assume that a woman and a man in a so-called relationship would sleep together, and yet all of the girlfriends have been very vague in the press.
Jill Ann Spaulding: I think sleeping with someone as old as their great-grandfather isn't that prestigious. Saying you're beautiful enough to be in Playboy is one thing. Letting everyone know the only way you made it was having sex with the editor-in-chief is something most girls would leave out of the conversation.
CP:According to your book, Hef's girlfriends lived by a very strict code of conduct: They were expected to arrange themselves in a certain way for public appearances, and were expressly forbidden to take their eyes off Hefner. Did you ever see anyone break the rules or defy Hefner's authority?
Spaulding: Not everyone acted like a robot. When I was out once, I noticed one girl looking out into the crowd and going unaccompanied to the bathroom. However, she wasn't a girlfriend for much longer. I think the only time they don't live by the strict code of conduct is when they're burned out and don't really care if they are going to get kicked out or not.
CP:Do you think the Mansion lives up to its mythology? Is it tamer than the general public might assume, or more shocking?
Spaulding: I was surprised that there wasn't much going on at many of the big parties. No one was having sex in the grotto. I think Hugh Hefner's inner circle is shocking to many just because of his age and what you have to do in order to participate.
CP:What's the most outrageous thing you witnessed at the Mansion?
Spaulding: Hugh Hefner watching a black guy and a white guy having sex, and seemingly enjoying it very much.
CP:Does it bother you that women are basically groveling to gain entry into Hugh Hefner's exclusive club of girlfriends? Do you find it demeaning, or is it just another form of career ambition?
Spaulding: I think that, like most things in life, there's always someone richer, smarter, or in this case, willing to go the extra five inches! That's life. I just thought someone like Hugh Hefner would care a little about the well-being of these girls. He knows the girls want this dream so bad that they're willing to do anything, and he's made sure that they have to. For someone who's 50-plus years older than these 18-year-old girls, his use of power seems like it could be dangerous and degrading.
CP:Do you think the women who get deeply involved in the Mansion scene are actually after Hefner's money (as one model implied in the book) or is it a status thing?
Spaulding: I really do think many of them think he's going to die and put them in his will.