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Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion Paperback – May 30, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On her first visit to the Playboy Mansion, six-year-old Saginor happened across John Belushi having sex with a Playmate. What was a child doing alone in such a place? Saginor's dad, a "fitness" doctor liberally prescribing weight loss and other prescription pills to show-biz types, sports figures and Playmate wannabes, had became one of Hugh Hefner's cronies, with his own quarters at the Mansion. Divorced from Saginor's mother, he took his daughter everywhere and let her run wild once there. Saginor grew to love the Mansion, her own "magical kingdom" with constant attention from servants and Playmates, where she never had to follow her mother's boring rules. As soon as she could, she asked to be in her father's custody, though she feared his bipolar rages, aggravated by compulsive promiscuity and the ubiquitous drugs of the 1970s and '80s. Predictably, as she grew older she joined the nonstop party; as a high school sophomore in 1985, she dated both an older soap-opera actor and, surreptitiously, Hef's own "girlfriend." Names have been changed throughout this made-for-daytime-talk memoir, except for walk-on celebrities (who misbehave only when safely dead, like Belushi), but readers seeking colorful general-issue dish, sleaze and bad behavior will find it in spades.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Saginor grew up in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s in the most unusual of places: the Playboy Mansion. Saginor's father was Hugh Hefner's personal doctor and, after his divorce from Saginor's mother, spent much of his time at the mansion surrounded by other powerful men and scores of Playmates. It was in this environment that Saginor and her sister, Savannah, got their first impressions of sex and how men and women relate to each other. Their mother tried to curtail the girls' visits, but when she entered high school, Saginor demanded to live with her father and found herself thoroughly swept into a world where sex and drugs abounded and a typical evening was spent at the club with her father and a gaggle of Playmates. Unable to find the unconditional love she craved with her father, Saginor fell in love with Hef's mercurial girlfriend, Kendall. Saginor is obviously still processing her dysfunctional childhood, which leaves the memoir feeling inconclusive at the end, but the ride is never anything less than engaging. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books; Reprint edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060761571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060761578
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I counted three major errors in the first 10 pages. The first chapter takes place in 1975, yet the following events supposedly occurred:

1. The author mentions seeing a picture of Dorothy Stratten. However, in 1975, Stratten was only 15 and still living in a small town in Canada. It would be another 3 years before she was discovered by Playboy.

2. The author claims to have seen John Belushi having sex in the Grotto. Belushi became a star from Saturday Night Live, but the show did not debut until September, 1975. So depending on what month this incident occurred, either Belushi hadn't made his TV debut, or he had only been on TV a month or two. It's highly doubtful he would have been a big enough celebrity to get to go to the Mansion.

3. The author then wanders into the game room where she sees a porn flick being shown on Playboy TV. Playboy TV did not start airing until 1982.

After reading all these mistakes, I just skimmed the rest of the book, figuring I should take anything written with a grain of salt. What little I did read was boring and poorly written.

Avoid this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The premise of this books seems to be an incredible one - spending your childhood at a place that sums up decadence, the Playboy mansion. While Saginor gives the reader plenty to talk about, I really think she pulls some punches when it comes to her relationship with her father.

The stories are just what most of us would picture, mostly dealing with drink, drugs and sex. And while none of it probably should surprise us, given the setting, it's still jarring to read what kind of behavior the author is subjected to as a child. Her early sexual activity with both men and women isn't surprising, either, but it's heartbreaking.

Like an earlier review mentioned, I think the author goes easy on her dad, a man who pretty much abandoned her to be raised by the motley collection of Playmates and hangers-on. At the same time, given his own behaviors, maybe that was for the best.

An interesting book, but a sad one. It might not surprise anyone, but it still makes for a good read.
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Format: Paperback
This book reminds me of a Lifetime movie - the quality is poor, yet you find yourself engrossed in spite of yourself. It's a light, quick read, though several of the tales the author recounts are quite disturbing. 10 pages into the book I found myself loathing her father.

As the author recounts stories from her childhood she uses music & fashion to set the time period. The mention of various designer clothing articles begins to mimic that of a teenager namedropping to try to impress. It also becomes very annoying. The anachronisms were at times so glaring they pulled me out of the story. When the author attempted to recreate dialogue between characters the slang word choices seemed more accurate for present day than to the 70s and 80s.

The book starts to fall apart toward the end. It seems to lose focus and starts to become repetitive - parties, drugs, abusive father, sexual freedom, anger and bitterness and repeat. By the end of the book I found myself disliking the author and her immaturity, petulance and seeming unwillingness to grow up and act like an adult. Her behavior as an adult and inability to quit blaming her parents and seek help is probably a testament to how dysfunctional and inappropriate her childhood was.

Still with all of it's flaws I am looking forward to reading the "sequel" when it's released.
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Format: Hardcover
Saginor opens her memoir with a narrative about exploring the sights and the sounds (the pools, the games, the people, the food) of the Playboy Mansion when she first visited at the tender age of six. 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, the drugs, the music, and the celebrities of the early 1980's. At the end of the book, Saginor contrasts the heyday of the Playboy Mansions 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got this book for a summer book list I put together for myself with the theme of seeing things from a different light. It was disappointing on so many levels. I thought it'd be interesting to see a different "Not so bad side" of "Heff's House." First it didn't give me what i was hoping for. It showed pretty much everything I thought goes down in the playboy mansion only most horrifically through the eyes of a young child as it tears up her family through the father, slowly shifting their values. It was a downward spiral and losing battle for this poor girl who's family put everything before her and who in turn learned to do the same to everybody else. Worst, I kept reading it looking for the "But this is what i learned and now i'm better off," point but it wasn't there. There were a few "I know now that was this" moments but nothing seemed to be gained from them. By the end I figured the whole book was a "money grab" for this writer who seems to be monetarily, characteristically, and morally scattered and scared but who has a whole "this happened but whatever" approach to the whole thing. It was written and edited alright, I'll give her that but story wise? Some people like depressing down ward spirals. Me? I already have life to remind me life can suck. I don't need that from my entertainment.
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