There are many reasons Playboy founder Hugh Hefner will be remembered, and his legendary parties are up there with the best – and possibly the worst – of them.
Reporter Alex Cullen found out first hand when he joined revellers at the Playboy mansion in 2011, during filming for his Sunday Night report, ‘Boomtown’.
While capturing the lives of high-flyers in Australia’s then-millionaire capital, Perth, Alex travelled with Zhenya and Lydia Tsvetnenko to LA.
The Sunday Night crew tagged along as the West Australian couple hit one of Hefner’s iconic parties.
But while they relished the ‘Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland’ vibe, Alex found the event a lot less charming.
“It was wild, dirty and all rather confronting,” he recalled.
“It was hedonism to the max and seeing Hugh sitting in his red robe surrounded by several of his Playboy Bunnies in a silk adorned cabana was surreal.
“He did give us a wave but was far too preoccupied with his girls to pay us much attention.”
As several women walked around in nothing but body paint, Hugh walked around the pool with his girls and security detail in tow.
The hefty team of guards ensured any attempts at an interview with the pioneering publisher were swiftly knocked back and “there was no getting near him”.
Playboy Mansion parties have held a place in folklore since the 70s, with outlandish tales of pleasure-seeking celebrities and hot shots indulging in Hefner’s fantasy world.
On the night Sunday Night was there, the party was a charity event so many of those in attendance had paid big money to be there – and Alex recalled them as keen to get their money’s worth.
“On the whole it was just an incredibly weird experience,” he said.
“A lot of girls were there chatting to much older men perhaps looking for their next big break because, after all, it was Hollywood.”
But even the man himself, the now deceased Mr Hefner, seemed less than enamoured by this 2011 version of the hedonist paradise.
“Most of the time Hugh just looked as though he’d rather be sitting in front of a fire with a good book rather than having his girls drag him over to watch rapper Flo Rida’s latest set,” Alex said.
“You have to admire him and his bawdy achievements but there was such a garish fake-ness to it all.
“To be honest, I was pretty happy to get out of there.”