Hugh Hefner's butler says Playboy women asked him to take photos of them because they didn't trust 'creepy people' in the Mansion
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To many, the Playboy Mansion is considered a place of great wrongdoing. But one man who worked there for nearly 20 years actually rather enjoyed it.
Dr. Bryant Horowitz worked inside the notorious property from 1997 to 2016 as one of Hugh Hefner's butlers after getting the job through another employee, who put in a good word for him.
During his first few months, the now-college professor says he worked there 'about three or four times', mostly at parties, but that role became more frequent in February 1998 as he trained at the mansion.
He eventually worked full-time for around five years of his near-20 year stint at the mansion. Being on call five days a week as a butler to Hugh Hefner meant that Horowitz saw the famous founder on a regular basis.
He got to go into the most private parts of the mansion, and saw things 'nobody else does', but in contrast to some of Playboy's former models and employees - who have made serious and shocking allegations about the founder - Horowitz is full of praise for his former boss.
"He was a great person. He is not the person that some of the girls have made him out to be, especially since he can't defend himself after his death," Horowitz told UNILAD.
Horowitz went on to describe Hef as a 'wonderful guy', though he echoed some of the other former employees and associates UNILAD has spoken to for this series about Hef being a 'perfectionist'.
"As long as everything was going his way, which he expected it to," Horowitz said, "he was kind and he was funny; he just loved being surrounded by people and having a good time."
Horowitz admits there were some issues in the mansion, but in stark contrast to some of the other allegations that have emerged since Hefner's passing, he did not point any blame at his door.
"When you talk about questionable behaviour, a lot of that came from the girls who came in there - not grateful for the opportunity, trying to get fame," he said.
Horowitz saw 'illicit drug use' and fighting in the mansion, but claims this had nothing to do with Hefner.
His claims bear similarities to those made by Hefner's ex-girlfriend, Melissa Howe, who told UNILAD how some women in the mansion 'picked to do drugs' - though she alleged this was to forget their encounters with Hef.
The former butler argues the Playmates actually seemed to trust him - and other butlers in the mansion.
"There were a couple of times when some of the girls would say something like, 'Hey, I need to take photos', I don't trust some of these creepy people around here," he said.
"That was commonplace for us because they knew which ones they could trust, we weren't going to do anything with it."
One of the most talked-about parts of mansion life are the parties that were held there - and what exactly went down behind closed doors.
Horowitz said there were different types of parties at the mansion, from 'smaller' ones to the 'big ragers'. These big parties were known as the 'Hef parties', with Horowitz saying staff would be 'planning them for weeks'.
"It would be anywhere from 600 to 1400 people that spent time mostly in the backyard - it would be crazy," he says.
"The parties would start about eight o'clock. A lot of times you would have girls dressed up in nothing but body paint.
"They would be handing out jello shots, you had anywhere from four to six full bars, lots of loud music and dancing, and the parties would go till about 3am."
But while many of the stories that have come out about the mansion and its infamous parties over the years have been controversial, Horowitz said a typical Friday, Saturday and Sunday night would actually be quite laid back, seeing Hefner watch movies with the Playmates.
When asked about the allegations, including that Playmates would sleep with Hefner to be named Playmate of the Year, Horowitz was not having it.
"It makes me feel uneasy when people try to blame him for doing things that he didn't do, for dragging his name through the mud, for ruining his character," the former butler said.
"This whole narrative about how he pitted them [Playmates] against each other is completely false."
READ MORE FROM STRIPPED BACK:
Due to the authority that butlers in the mansion had, serving drinks, food, and catering to essentially anything Hefner and co. wanted, Horowitz said the staff 'got to see what happens behind closed doors'.
And while he's confident Hefner didn't do the shocking things described in podcasts, films and documentaries - that doesn't mean he was always entirely appropriate.
"Were there times when he put a hand on their [Playmates] back or a little lower just to say hi? Yes," Horowitz said.
"I'm not going to dismiss that, it was the culture of times, but if you are thinking about people that are predatory, that was never the intent [from Hefner].
"It was always with admiration and love.
"Hef was as he was in interviews: he was a classy man. He respected women."
UNILAD's new Stripped Back series is released from May 1 and takes us back into the Playboy Mansion, featuring interviews with a variety of people who spent time working and living there with Hugh Hefner.