A NSFW Look Inside The “Kind Of Run Down” Playboy Mansion

Jeff Minton’s photos capture the odd details, textures, and unorthodox occupants of Hugh Hefner’s house.

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The 100-year old Playboy Mansion, located in the hills of L.A., is a so-called Disneyland for adults–a place of lavish parties and scandalous liaisons. But for the photographer Jeff Minton, the house’s architectural details and the odd objects scattered throughout its 22 rooms are what make it a true funhouse.

Minton’s photo series Playboy Mansion captures plenty of the familiar, iconic details of the house, like Hugh Hefner’s classic red velvet robe, a bunny falling onto white sheets, and an Eames chair accompanied by a sculpture of a tiger. But the best shots are the random ones: A marble sculpture covered in lipstick, a cardboard cutout of Hefner shoved into a closet, a butler opening the door for an exotic bird.

“There’s just birds walking around. They’re not pigeons–they’re super exotic birds. That one was kind of a dick though,” Minton says of the bird which appears in several of the photos. “It would follow you around and try and peck you. But the security guy was friends with him. They go around the house. They’re pretty much part of the family.”

Also part of the family? The other animals in Hefner’s menagerie. Minton was first hired to photograph the animals–he says that apparently Hefner saw a series of photos he did of Crystal the Monkey for New York magazine and requested his services–but he convinced Hefner to let him continue coming back to photograph the house and grounds. Over the course of a week, he shot 6,000 photos of every inch of the property and its 60-person staff, many of which he gave to Hefner.

Over the course of the shoot, Minton discovered hidden rooms and retro details, like the old-fashioned light switches that control lighting for the shower and the art. He even jumped in the pool–even though he says it’s for playmates only. The series emerged as his own personal project, capturing the little details of the place that he shot in between the more standard, commissioned photos.

“I tried to capture it in an upbeat way because it’s kind of run down now,” Minton tells Co.Design. His photos treat their subjects like a paparazzo might treat a celebrity; while one captures a bunny’s pale legs, another shot is of a bird’s scaly ones. The contrast is jarring but clever.

The house was sold for $100 million in August 2016. The photographs remain as remnants of the Playboy Mansion’s former glory days. “It’s different from anything I’ve ever seen. Most of the days there it was this empty house where you’re imagining all the scandalous times that went down there,” he says. “It feels like a museum.”

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Follow her on Twitter @kschwabable.

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