Animal Fair has found the quintessential Most Eligible Pet, a royal Chihuahua named Dutchess. She lives with her legendary publisher and king of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner and his number one queen, girlfriend Holly Madison. Hefner is one of the most eligible bachelors and premiere publishing icons of our time. These days he keeps himself quite occupied not only with Holly Madison, but she shares “Hef” with two other young blonde bombshells that also reside at the mansion, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson. And if you’re wondering how this timeless master manages his trio of beauties, then turn on E! Sunday nights to catch a glimpse in to his colorful private world in The Girls Next Door.
Although Hugh Hefner has long been associated with bunnies, his love of all animals reverts back to his childhood in Chicago where he always enjoyed the affection of pets and even dreamt of becoming a veterinarian one day. In 1971 he retained a zoo license for his Los Angeles based Playboy Mansion and began flourishing the grounds with a bevy of exotic birds, three different species of monkeys, an occasional llama, dog, cat and of course rabbits (the originals). These eligible animals presently co-exist in Hefner’s finely choreographed and enchanted paradise that includes the famed “Grotto” where celebrities have been partying the light fantastic for decades at renowned “Playboy Mansion”. Just think of all the fun some fortunate pet is going to have if they manage to win the heart of the Playboy empire heir to the animal throne–Dutchess!
Animal Fair’s Wendy and Lucky Diamond visited Hugh Hefner and Holly Madison at the Playboy Mansion for one of the most memorable interviews of their careers.
WD: It’s obvious by looking around the Mansion that you love animals. Did you grow up with animals?
HH: Animals are my first love. My folks were farm people from Nebraska. When I was young I identified very much with documentaries that were popular in the early 1930’s … Frank Buck brought animals back from the zoo … and the Tarzan myth of man living in harmony with his mate. I grew up on the west side of Chicago in the suburbs and I had a lot of pets. I had my own little zoo and museum. When the pets died they went from the zoo to the museum. Early on I drew comic books and short stories. The first short story I wrote was “Dog Tales”. It was a compilation about my dogs and the dogs in the neighborhood. When I was six or seven years old I had an operation in my ears and I wanted a dog. When I came out of the hospital my folks bought me a Wirehaired Fox Terrier that I named “Brows”. I had a security blanket in my bed when I was little and it had bunnies all over it, I called it the “bunny blanket” and when I got Brows I put it in the box where the dog was. Brows was sick and died within two weeks. We burned the bunny blanket! We all remember with the film Citizen Kane. One can imagine in a Citizen Kane way they burned the blanket and then I went on to create the bunny empire.
WD: That is touching, and at the same time, fascinating – is that the reason why you created the “Bunny Empire” (Playboy Empire)?
HH: That’s not the reason why! But you can see why it is symbolic.
WD: Growing up, did you always envision having a heavy petting zoo, oops, I mean petting zoo?
HH: Ha Ha (he chuckled). When I moved into the mansion, I had dogs, a St. Bernard, then Sheepdogs. The first Sheepdog was called “Dog” and when we got a female, it was called “Mama Dog”. When I got this property … I started the first Playboy Mansion in Chicago in 1953 … this one in 1971 … we were able to get a zoo license and able to stock the property with the animals you see here. I think the house in Chicago was a retro cool 1960s kind of place and you had no sense of day or night, the curtains were always drawn. When I came out here it was a reconnection with nature and my childhood.
WD: You are a pioneer, triumphantly successful with your Playboy empire and the most famous bachelor of our time. So I must ask … do you think that true love exists?
HH: Not everyone can have a true love. What we tend to look for, particularly romantic-wise, happens sometimes but not very often. We pick our mates for various reasons. I was fascinated with music from childhood because there was no affection in my home. From a very young age, I defined love in more romantic terms as I saw it in the movies and heard it in music from my childhood. My life as I express it is a quest to find the love in songs. It is an impossible dream, but it is a very romantic dream.
WD: What song do you believe captures the essence of what you believe love is?
HH: If I were to name a song off the top of my head it would be Dream. You may not have even heard of it … We are lucky to be here and life should be a celebration as much as it can be.
WD: I can see why that’s one of you favorite songs – you’ve certainly done it in your lifetime!
Wendy and Lucky took a stroll through the zoo and infamous grotto with Hefner’s number one Bunny, Holly Madison, and our “Most Eligible Pet”, Dutchess.
WD: This is an exceptional landmark to reside, how often do you go outside and visit the zoo?
HM: Pretty much everyday. You can come to the aviary and look at the exotic birds … the cage is interesting. We rescued a lot of rabbits because last summer somebody dumped over a 100 rabbits down at a park and we caught a few of them with our bare hands. It was crazy! They were all over and coyotes were getting them. We have several different kind of pigeons in here as well. Pepe and Cocoa are our fighter monkeys. We are trying to get them to breed but it hasn’t happened.
WD: With all the various animals and exotic species around what made you get a Dutchess, the Chihuahua?
HM: I have two Pomeranians, so I wanted another small, girl dog. I saw a picture of an overweight small white Chihuahua and I sent the foster mom emails but the dog was already adopted at a pet fair. About a week later, she emailed saying she had another one that reminded her of the dog … and now I have Dutchess.
WD: What breed of dog is Hugh?
HM: He is a German Shepherd. He is the man of the house, he likes things his way but at heart he is just a marshmallow!