Jennifer Saginor,
Playground: A Childhood
Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion

(Harper, 2005)

Jennifer Saginor opens her memoir, Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion, with a narrative about exploring the sights and sounds (the pools, the games, the people, the food) of the Playboy Mansion when she first visited at the tender age of 6. The book is about how Saginor's father, Hugh Hefner's close friend and personal doctor, shaped her self-image and her life-long interactions with women. She writes with a tone of reflection and analysis, explaining how her father used her to punish her mother and how her father manipulated her like he did all his girlfriends and the Playmate wannabes.

At one point, Saginor comments that her troubled relationship with an older woman grew out of her search for a mother figure, while her sister repeatedly got involved with sketchy older men in search of a father figure.

The parties and scenes captured in this book are delicious time capsules of the fashions, drugs, music and celebrities of the early 1980s. At the end of the book, Saginor contrasts the heyday of the Playboy Mansion with the current strict security and drug-free (on the surface) environment. Overall, this is a quick and telling read about life in the fast lane and the consequences of living large.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
23 September 2006

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