She arrived in town forging the identity of “Miss Las Vegas,” prepared to star in a show on the Strip and developing a TV show revolving around Holly’s World.
That was seven years ago. As a moniker, Miss Las Vegas is long gone. Holly Madison is a Mrs. now, married to Insomniac and Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella and mother of 2-year-old daughter Rainbow. Rather than donning and shedding a corset, she’s a best-selling author, having penned Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny. The just-released tome debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times Bestseller List among hardcover nonfiction releases.
The book’s boomlets include a highly unflattering account of Madison’s romantic relationship with Hugh Hefner (“Needless to say, for me, sex was never the highlight of the relationship,”), the deteriorating state of the mansion itself (the place reportedly reeked of dog urine and feces) and other playmates’ cocaine and crystal meth use. Of Hefner, she writes, “I learned Hef was the manipulator and that he pitted us (including Madison and housemates Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt) against one another,” she noted. “I realized I wasn’t treated well. I’m done being afraid of people. I don’t have any loyalty to Hef.”
On July 1, before spending three hours signing copies of the book at Barnes & Noble at the Rainbow Promenade, Madison chatted about the book. The highlights:
You’ve talked of mistakes you made during the time covered in the book. Do you have any regrets? I have to say no, because I love where my life ended up, now. I think even when you do stupid things you learn from them … But I think that if I had any advice for my younger self, what I would change, not long after I moved into the mansion, I was pressured by Hef into giving up my waitressing job.
This is the job at Hooters? Yeah, which sounds silly, because it is just a waitressing job. But that was my last thread of independence, really. I think if I’d kept the job, I would have had my head screwed on my shoulders a little better.
How do you resolve writing negatively about Hugh Hefner, a man you lived with and always seemed compassionate about? I just really wanted to tell my story, and yeah, there are mixed emotions that come along with revealing the negative sides of someone you were once close to, but I think the reason I felt okay with it is that he never respected our privacy.
In what way? You know, he was always taking pictures of us, like nude snapshots, and things we never signed releases for, in scrapbooks. Years later, I found out from his friends that he was planning to donate those scrapbooks to a public library when he dies. And I was like, “Oh, great.”
How does Pasquale feel about the book? He’s very proud of me for telling my story, because he knows firsthand how difficult it is for me to talk about it, how much I don’t want to talk about it. He read it and said he didn’t enjoy reading it, because he doesn’t read about things that are hurtful to me. But he’s very supportive of the fact that I am getting the truth out there and trying to move forward in a positive way.
Did you run any of it by him before it was published? No, and I didn’t have anyone else read it. I didn’t want to be swayed. ... I just wanted it to be real.
Does this book make it possible not to answer questions about this part of your life anymore? I would love to never talk about any of this stuff again (laughs). I’d love to just be able to say, “You know what? I wrote about it. Read my book.”
What’s next? If I do more television, I want to do more of hosting and not so much reality. I want to write another book, I want to have more kids, and I want to travel.
What’s the next book going to be about? It’s going to be the anti-dating advice book. A fictionalized version of my single years dating and what I learned there, and kind of an antidote to all of the traditional advice books that don’t work. Something really fun.