The latest Secrets Of Playboy contained some pretty horrific accusations. The A&E docuseries has shined a light on some dark moments of the magazine’s history, and two of the darkest were revealed on Monday.
The latest accusation comes from 1983 Playmate Susie Scott — who now goes by Susie Krabacher. Now 58 years old, Susie has spoken out about her Playboy regrets before but has never gone public with her allegations of rape until now. She said in the doc:
“I decided to tell in detail about the Hefner rape. I hate that word, but there’s no other way to describe it. Women who go through this feel that they’ll be stigmatized or thought of differently. It’s why they don’t talk about it, it’s why they don’t tell.”
She didn’t tell for many years. But on Monday’s episode, she gave the first first-person allegation of a drugging and rape by the publishing icon.
Susie’s story actually begins when she was just 8 years old. She was raised in a “cult-like” religious family in Alabama. She says while her actions were being judged ever so strictly, her grandfather was taking advantage of her fear. She revealed:
“He would take me into the woods and then he would take his pants off and he would rape me. And I remember when I was eight, he said, ‘Well, don’t you ever tell your mother, because she will kill you if you tell her.’”
Just horrible. And in her escape from one extreme, she fled to the other. And once again found herself under the thumb of an old man. She considered:
“When I came to Playboy, I thought that doing the centerfold was kind of like getting my power back. I had it for a moment, but it was taken right back.”
Susie posed for her first nudes when she was just 17, though the mag didn’t publish them until she turned 18. (Is that even legal??) That year she also moved into the Playboy Mansion — and she was NOT ready for it. She recalled Hef telling her:
“‘Susie, I heard that you’re nervous, and you’ve been staying in your room. But I want you to know it’s safe here, and I want you to know that you can do anything you want. If there’s anything you want to experiment with, then you just need to let us know because we want you to be safe.’”
She says she was anything but safe — and wasn’t actually given a choice to do what she wanted.
When she went to Hef to ask about possibly being named Playmate of the Year, she claimed, the magnate invited her in and offered her a pill — “something to calm you down,” he said.
“I just took it, not thinking much about it. At first, it didn’t dawn on me that it was a drug. At first, you’re thinking someone’s giving you a Tylenol or an Advil. And then I thought, ‘OK, what did I just take?’ I didn’t even ask.”
She now believes what she was given was a Quaalude, something Hef was known for carrying around and handing out like party favors. (Yes, the same drug Bill Cosby allegedly used on women to sexually assault them.) Her description of events matches up with that other women who have been slipped the drug describe. Everything is fuzzy in her memory after the pill — until she woke up anyway.
She told the cameras:
“I don’t remember laying down. I don’t remember if I even said anything to him about Playmate of the Year. I woke up with him on top of me. He was naked, and my pants were off, my pajama bottoms were off. I thought that I was having a nightmare because it didn’t seem possible.”
But it wasn’t a nightmare. She painted a truly haunting picture, saying:
“This old man with his mouth gaping open was a real thing. He was a real person, it was Hefner. He looked like Satan. He just looked so — just a creep.”
The moment was especially triggering for the child sexual abuse victim. All these years later she’s had a long time to contextualize it in her mind.
“‘I thought I was reliving the last time that my grandfather had done this to me. He honestly had the same look that my grandfather had when he did it. I can’t tell you. There must be, like, some common demon that gets in and looks the same because it was eerie, it was just eerie.”
When she fully came to and realized what was happening, she “pushed him off”of her. It upset him, but he stopped. She remembered:
“When I went back to my bedroom, all I wanted to do was lay back down, cry, think, and I just remember, ‘I’ve gotta tell somebody.’”
But who could she tell?
“The next morning, I was so ashamed, I wanted to just die. This whole thing had to be a secret, a secret that I had to see all the time. You know, I looked up that hallway and I’d think about it, but then I’d have to put that smile on and when I saw Hef give him a hug. He never mentioned it. The only explanation is that he was hiding it from me. To make me doubt that it happened, maybe. To make me forget about it — but you don’t forget.”
Silenced again, just like when she was a child. Horrible.
She did tell someone though: then-Playboy editor Marilyn Grabowski. She says Grabowski brushed off the accusation, telling her:
“Oh that’s all? Don’t let it bother you. It’s nothing. It’s nothing, he won’t even remember it.”
Makes it sound like he did it often, doesn’t it? Susie responded:
“And I’m like, ‘But I will never forget it.’”
(BTW, Grabowski told A&E she denies ever saying any of this.)
Susie says Hefner followed typical abuser behavior we’ve come to know too well by now: shining all the light on you… at first.
“He was so good at making you feel like you were the only thing in the world, and the most beautiful thing in the world — until the next Playmate came along, and he didn’t care if you were broken, anorexic, addicted.”
Between eating disorders and secret depression, Susie lost weight until she was just 90 lbs. She remembered:
“I was just completely depressed. I didn’t feel of value. This thing that happened with Hef set me back a long way.”
Ultimately she just doesn’t understand why her experience couldn’t have just been the rosy one so many other models have claimed of their time in the mansion:
“I was disappointed in myself that I put myself in the position that he could have had access to me. I tried so hard for so long to not be the stereotype. I could’ve left that world thinking he was a great guy. That he was never inappropriate with me. He paid us well. Some doors that maybe I never would have stood before opened. But I can’t say that.”
Of course not. Not when there was a Sword of Damocles hanging over her head in the form of a possible sex tape that could get out. It was known even then among those close to him, according to Susie, that Hef was secretly recording the women he was sleeping with. And that possibility kept her in fear long after she left:
“It haunted me that he might have a video of me when he was on top of me. I pray that because I was unconscious he would not show it to anyone because it’s illegal. My saving thought is that he had to have destroyed it because he’s showing himself committing a crime.”
Susie wasn’t alone on Monday’s episode in making claims of sexual assault. But the others were all on behalf of other women.
Sondra Theodore, who dated Hugh Hefner from about 1976 to 1981, recalled in the installment that she once saw him let himself into a room where a woman was sleeping — because he had a key to every room, so there was no real way to keep him out. As he made his move, however, the woman woke up, said Sondra, in tears:
“She kept saying no. The minute she said no, he continued and forced himself on her.”
She questioned him about it, and he told her:
“‘Well, did they think that they were going to come stay at my house and not sleep with me?’”
Hefner’s valet from 1978 to 1981, Stefan Tetenbaum, told another story on behalf of someone who can never tell her own: Dorothy Stratten.
The winner of the Great Playmate Hunt in 1978 was infamously murdered by her estranged husband in 1980, just as her star was truly beginning to rise in Hollywood and she was getting mainstream film roles. Her story was told in the films Death of a Centerfold and Star 80. But those movies, harrowing as they were, didn’t contain this scene…
Tetenbaum claims he accidentally saw Hefner sexually assaulting Dorothy:
“There was a ledge around the Grotto. Hefner propped her up and he started to rape her anally, and she was screaming.”
Like Susie, he recalled being told to keep quiet:
“After we witnessed it, the security guard … whispered in my ear [that] I should go back into the butlers’ pantry and keep my mouth shut. And that’s what I did. You had to follow the rules. You had to be discreet, be quiet, carry on. Nobody was going to come forward because nobody wanted Hefner to come after you.”
Another awful story. We just wish Dorothy were alive to tell it herself. We can’t imagine what’s next from Secrets of Playboy. The series, which airs Monday nights on A&E, has just added more episodes — presumably because there’s even more coming out. We shudder to think.