Happy birthday, Hef. Now you’ve turned 80 have you scaled down your antics?
You could say that, but I’m pretty active for my age. I still feel great and I have three regular partners, including my main girlfriend, Holly Madison. Holly has been with me for years and I sleep with her three times a week. Mind you, in my prime I had seven girlfriends and slept with my main one every night.
Seven! How on earth did you keep them all satisfied?
Well it depends on the girls. The length of time they stay depends on the individual and the relationship bond. At the moment it’s fine, because my three like each other. If they get along it’s a lot easier having several girlfriends than just one. But if the group doesn’t get along, there can be a problem. If that happens there can be backstabbing and bitchiness in the camp. But whoever causes it is out – and then a new one comes in.
Nice one. Have you ever been attacked by someone whose girlfriend you’ve stolen?
No I haven’t. I’m sure there are some guys out there complaining about this and that, but the girls come to me, I don’t steal anyone.
Is there a bed in your private jet?
There used to be, but I don’t have a jet any more. Back in the ’70s I owned the Big Bunny, which was like a flying apartment. It had a bedroom in the back with an en suite shower and an oval-shaped bed. I joined the Mile High Club many times in that airborne bedroom.
Is Viagra cheating?
Absolutely not. I use it all the time. In my view it is by far and away the best recreational drug on the market.
Christ. Are you always having sex then?
No of course not. I don’t party all the time. I have my magazine to produce and other interests. I love watching old movies and often like to play cards with my buddies.
Women, cards, gentleman’s magazine… would you swap your life for anyone else’s?
You have got to be kidding me. I’m not stupid. I know I am the luckiest guy on the planet.
This is FHM’s party special. We’re celebrating our 200th issue, but why do you party so much?
The notion of a party was thematic to Playboy from the beginning. Playboy was the first magazine to celebrate single life and through my parties ?I am actually living that life – and have been for over half a century.
Tell us about the mansion’s doorknocker.
It says “If you don’t swing, don’t ring” in Latin. My associate publisher gave it to me for my Chicago mansion, and since it sums up what goes on in the mansion perfectly I kept it and took it with me to LA.
When did you move to LA?
The original mansion was in Chicago in 1970. When we moved to LA in 1971 we expanded to a larger property and began inviting celebrities and the centrefolds, so the parties became bigger and better.
What makes the mansion so special?
People know that they come here to party. They have a pre-conceived expectation of events. The guys like to have fun watching and the girls like to dress so they’re noticed.
How do they do that?
The dress code depends on the theme. I have an ongoing party with my family of friends who come round every weekend, but these bikini dos are small compared with the six or seven big events in the calendar.
What are they?
We start off with a New Year’s Eve pyjama and lingerie party. Then we have a Mardi Gras event and after that comes my birthday. After the 4th of July party we have a Midsummer Night’s Dream party, which tends to be the biggest. We put a tent across the backyard and have lots of naked ladies, painted to look like they are wearing lingerie, wandering about. Finally, in October we hold a Halloween party to end the year.
Whoa! Rewind a little. Did you say naked painted ladies?
Yes I did. They dish out Jell-o shots, which rather unsurprisingly are the most popular drinks at most parties.
Downing Jell-o shots doesn’t sound like your style.
It isn’t. My girls and I drink Cristal.
What the biggest orgy you’ve had?
What kind of interview is this? The most I’ve had in bed with me was 13, although there was one birthday party where my main girlfriend got me a special treat. She and 17 other Playmates came into the grotto with me. That was one hell of a birthday.
Impressive. You must have got through a few in your time?
I stopped counting a long time ago. My life is more about quality than quantity. Mind you, I’d still reckon I’ve easily had more than 2,000.
So you’ve never got drunk and slept with someone ugly?
I have regrets, like anybody. I’m sure I’ve had a few I can’t remember.
Who’s the wildest partier you know?
I’m not sure. Jimmy Connors [American tennis player] has probably attended the most parties, but he isn’t particularly wild. I don’t spend time hanging out with drunks.
Do the parties ever get raided?
No, because we are acutely aware of our neighbours. The only issues we’ve ever had regarded parking on the street. We solved the problem by bussing people in.
How many will there be at an event?
The largest party we’ve had so far featured 1,100 people, but on average we will have 800 to 1,000 guests. There will be a rough ratio of three women to one man.
That’s a lot of women – can we fail to pull?
If you can’t pull here, you’re in big trouble. The girls come here to have fun and get lucky. They leave their games at the gate.
What do you mean?
They come in to have a good time and they do because they’re not under pressure. The rules are established to protect women. No one is going to be mistreated.
But what if they are?
In terms of behaviour, we have some very real rules about behaving yourself. Anyone out of line will not be invited back. That tends to stop any kind of misbehaviour.
No drugs or sex in public then?
I didn’t say no sex in public. Sex is not negative behaviour. We have the grotto in the pool, which is an extension of an area with a Jacuzzi and a Roman bath I used with my girls in the Chicago mansion. You swim under a waterfall into a natural jacuzzi and people often have sex there. The pool is the centrepiece of the yard and most of the girls will sunbathe topless round it.
Topless sunbathing, brilliant! What else goes on at these dos?
The parties start at 8pm and end at about 4am. There will be an open bar with all sorts of bottles and cocktails. Mostly we pipe in music, but occasionally we’ll have rock groups play to help to make the mansion party central. Oh, and we’re the only private property in Los Angeles to have a fireworks licence.
Which was your best party?
The best is always the last party because it’s freshest in your memory. So that was the one for my birthday. A lingerie party with music from Three 6 Mafia [hip-hop combo].
Who else comes to the parties?
The likes of Justin Timberlake have been known to show up, but it’s generally always a mix of celebrities and beautiful people. Because of our invitation policy, we have a higher number of beautiful people than any other party in the world.
Policy? How does FHM get an invite?
Invitations depend on levels of celebrity and levels of attractiveness. Those are the primary criteria. That’s why we have two to three times more women. Parties with all couples or more men tend to be disappointing.
Are we on the list for the next party?
Original interview by Stuart Hood in the August 2006 issue of FHM UK magazine