Ode to Holly

Posted on January 2, 2011 by


Why being a strong woman may not be tolerated in the Playboy kingdom

By Rachael Lander

Hugh Hefner with new fiancée Crystal Harris - a match made in Playboy Mansion heaven? Thanks to http://www.news.com.au for the image.

On Christmas Eve, Hugh Hefner – my favorite 84-year-old Viagra-loving playboy – proposed to his 24-year-old girlfriend, aspiring singer Crystal Harris. Yeah. That happened.

Alright, let’s move past the age thing and get to the real issue I’m having with this news. What in the hell does Crystal Harris have that Holly Madison didn’t?

For those who weren’t fans of “The Girls Next Door” Holly was the Playboy publisher’s live-in girlfriend for seven years and she famously got Hef to break out of his routine a little bit and take on new experiences. Cases in point: A two-week trip to Europe (Hef’s known to hate traveling these days), letting cameras into his home via the reality show and introducing new ideas for the magazine’s centerfold spreads. Holly even got him to fly in snow one Christmas.

Hef has also been quoted saying that he expected his relationship with Holly to last for the rest of his life, but he wouldn’t ever get married again. In fact, he was still legally married to his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, until March of last year.

Just your typical friendly neighborhood models. Picture provided by http://www.beyondhollywood.com.

I’m more than a little addicted to Playboy mansion trivia. I was obsessed with “The Girls Next Door” while it aired and I’ve repeatedly listened to Holly, Bridget, and Kendra’s commentary on the DVD extras. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Whatever.)

The truth? Holly was (and is) my favorite of the trio. I can’t help it—I’m drawn to her spunky personality and her obvious drive to get ahead in her career. Here’s the thing, all of my knowledge about Holly comes from books I’ve read, the reality show, what she’s done with her life post-mansion and what she did with her life pre-mansion.

I clearly don’t know the chick, but I believe she didn’t just go to the mansion to get famous (unlike Bridget). She fought for her relationship with Hef—she was there when he had a bevy of blondes hanging on him and she was the driving force behind whittling the relationships down to the famed trio. There wasn’t a television show then, nor was she trying to be a singer (ahem, Crystal), or an actress or anyone famous. She was just a girl dating a guy. The guy just happened to be Hugh Hefner.

Hugh Hefner and Holly Madison sporting truly original Halloween costumes.

I can’t even begin to count the times Holly mentioned in the DVD commentary that she thinks the celebrity thing is weird because she hasn’t done anything to warrant it. That’s why I like her. (Now of course, Holly has taken her life into her own hands: she moved to Vegas, joined a burlesque show titled “Peepshow,” and is involved in a multitude of different projects including charity work and, of course, a new reality show titled “Holly’s World.”)

But when Holly was dating Hef, it was clear that the couple was legit (though if anyone wants to argue with me, feel free). Any idiot watching the show could see their affection for one another wasn’t a set-up. While I don’t personally get the whole age gap thing, I know there are people who aren’t bothered by a small – or significant –  age difference and will do whatever it takes to be with the person they love. Holly was one of these people.

Throughout the original trio’s run on “The Girls Next Door,” Holly made it very evident that she was willing to do anything for Hef. She stuck it out, even though he was really clear with his intention to not take the relationship further than a very-loving boyfriend/girlfriend partnering. Of course, there were numerous times in the series where Holly hinted (and flat out told) Hef she wanted to get married and have babies. Every time he stealthily ignored her, joked about it, or laughed and walked away. Poor girl; no one wants to be in a relationship that doesn’t go anywhere.

The rock Hef gave Crystal Harris to signify their undying love. (Pic courtesy of Harris, who tweeted it earlier this week.)

So what happened between dating Holly and Crystal that made Hef change his mind? Why did he decide Crystal meant enough to him for him to put a (big) ring on it? Is it a snub against Holly? Is he afraid of dying without a wife? Will he and Crystal even get married or will it just be a really long engagement (aka media stunt)?

Well, there are a lot of possible reasons behind his sudden decision to marry Crystal. For one, Crystal’s pretty much been nonexistent in the public eye. The final season of “The Girls Next Door” — which took place after Kendra, Bridget, and Holly moved out and Crystal and the Shannon twins moved in — was bad. Crystal didn’t have the spark that Holly did to keep the television show going because Crystal didn’t have anything interesting to say. She’s straight-up arm candy.

In post-engagement interviews, Crystal has said that she’s not driven by the “maternal instinct” to have children—that it’s not the type of life she imagined for herself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and in fact I think that’s one of the major reasons why Hef must have agreed to marry her. She’s happy working on scrapbooking and organizational projects around the mansion, and (apparently) working on her singing career.

Crystal Harris, the model/vocal siren that stole Hef's ... er ... heart.

Hef’s known for being a “creature of habit.” While Holly made him break his rituals a little bit, he obviously wasn’t comfortable doing that. Seriously, the guy has a Casablanca party every year for his birthday. He eats soup and crackers every freaking day. He needs routine. Crystal must give him the normalcy that Holly didn’t because she was too focused on her own career (Holly served as a junior photo editor at Playboy until she and Hef broke up).

While I think Playboy is a much classier publication than any other magazine featuring naked women, I think it has given Hef this need to live his life like he’s living in a centerfold. He dates young blondes with big chests (enhancements he often pays for) and he famously won’t date anyone older than 30 (though Bridget Marquardt broke this rule). There isn’t as much information out there about Crystal and Hef’s relationship, but I would bet anything that she’s passive. She probably lets Hef do his thing and is just there to document it in his famous scrapbook library. She gives him the centerfold life.

So maybe they’re perfect for each other in the way that Holly and Hef weren’t. I’m sure Holly challenged him, but an 84-year-old billionaire probably doesn’t want to be challenged. I’m not judging his decision at all, I just think it’s worth noting that some men are attracted to women who can be controlled and some women are more than willing to play that role.

But if I were Crystal, I would be worried about Hef’s reasons for marrying me.

Rachael Lander