Scantily clad girls running around in pink miniskirts, ultra high heels and little white bunny ears: Does this image sound familiar? Probably not from firsthand experience—only a select few have breached those exclusive gates—but it’s certainly a known piece of pop culture trivia. The notorious Playboy Mansion, home to the ultimate playboy, Hugh Hefner, and his buxom blonde girlfriends, is known around the world with help from its various film and TV appearances.
The mansion has been recently popularized and revealed by the E! reality television series “The Girls Next Door,” which follows the daily and often glamorous lives of three of Hef’s gal pals. Other notable peeks into this fortress include Weezer’s 2005 music video for “Beverly Hills” and episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Sex and the City.” Hef and company also hold an array of annual events at their humble home, including the charity Celebrity Poker Tournament and live broadcasts of ESPN boxing matches.
However, none of these limited views into the mansion can truly capture the grand scale of the place, for it sits on 5.3 acres of land and consists of 30 rooms, complete with a wine cellar, game room, swimming pool (including the infamous grotto) and bathhouse; it is also the only private residence in L.A. to have a zoo and fireworks license. Although it’s difficult to imagine these Playmates residing anywhere but within the glitzy, laid back California lifestyle, the original bunny mansion was actually located in the windy city of Chicago up until 1974.
The most recent capturing of the mansion’s sheltered interior can be seen in the new comedy The House Bunny, starring Anna Faris. The movie, which is co-written by the minds behind Legally Blonde, follows a Playboy Bunny (Faris) who is thrown out of the mansion and soon finds herself leading a college sorority. To research the role, Faris wandered around the mansion for inspiration and describes her time there as “one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.” To best depict the contrast between the Bunny’s Playboy world and real life, it was essential that the crew film in the mansion itself. Production designer Missy Stewart notes, “The first part of the script developed our main character Shelley and her fall from grace from the Playboy Mansion and her attempt to enter the ‘real’ world. I like to think of it as her Paradise Lost period. So we tried to create paradise in the first act in every way.” Few would question the mansion’s claim as a sort of paradise, but only the lucky have been able to truly understand this parallel. Getting a film crew together may actually be the easiest way to pass through the gates.
Here, a sample of other productions that have made their way onto the property at the Playboy Mansion:
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
Nelly, “Work it” (2003)
Weezer, “Beverly Hills” (2005)
“The Girls Next Door” (2005-present)
Nickelback, “Rockstar” (2007)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Sex and the City”