Hundreds of former Playboy employees and Playmates have reportedly defended Hugh Hefner in an open letter, after a documentary laid out multiple allegations of wrongdoing against the late Playboy founder and others.
According to People magazine, the letter is signed by “hundreds of former Playboy Bunnies, Playmates, ex-girlfriends and employees” who chose to respond to A&E’s ongoing docuseries Secrets of Playboy. The 10-hour documentary, which is airing weekly until its planned finale on 21 March, re-examines Hefner’s legacy and the culture he created as the founder of Playboy.
“We sign our names to support Hugh M Hefner. From all we know of Hef, he was a person of upstanding character, exceptional kindness, and dedication to free thought,” the letter states according to People.
“He demonstrated a commitment to living an honest life beyond everything else. Our time within Hugh Hefner’s Playboy and the organization’s subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of. I proudly sign this letter in recognition of Hugh Hefner’s character amid unfounded allegations in the A&E show.”
A spokesperson for A&E told The Independent in a statement: “The stories shared in Secrets of Playboy are the personal experiences of the documentary’s participants and deserve to be told despite how difficult they may be for some to hear.
“Signatures on a letter, or a different experience with Mr Hefner or the Playboy culture, do not negate the experiences of those who have come forward to share their truth on the series and we look forward to continuing to bring these stories to light.”
Ahead of the documentary’s release, the PLBY Group, the company behind the magazine and its related properties, issued an open letter seeking to separate the current Playboy magazine from Hefner, who died in 2017 aged 91.
“First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable,” the open letter reads in part.
“As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”
It adds: “Please join us in doing the most important thing we can do right now — listen. It is critically important that we listen as these women share their stories and that we continue to fight harassment and discrimination in all its forms, support healing and education, redefine tired and sexist definitions of beauty and advocate for inclusivity across gender, sexuality, race, age, ability and zip codes.”