Paris Hilton Turned Down 7 Figures To Appear In Playboy. Hugh Hefner Put Her On The Cover Anyway

Paris Hilton at Hugh Hefner's 81st Birthday Party
(Image credit: (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage))

Nearly 20 years ago, Hugh Hefner was on the hunt. The longtime Playboy mogul really wanted then It-girl Paris Hilton to be on the cover of his magazine, and he was furiously wooing her. He offered her money, then more money, than plenty of accommodations to try to entice her. According to Paris though, her mom would have lost her mind. 

In her upcoming memoir -- which has also yielded stories about attempting to sneak a young Khloé Kardashian into a club -- Paris Hilton wrote about the experience, and the dark side of being famous during this time. She considered all of the things Hefner offered, but kept hearing her mom’s reaction in the back of her mind; Kathy Hilton was firm doing the magazine would be “so trashy.” Still, the magazine mogul was on the hunt for a while: 

Hef really wanted me to do a Playboy cover. He kept offering me more and more money, saying I wouldn't have to be totally naked, just topless. And then saying, I didn't have to be topless, just sheer. And then saying I could wear whatever lingerie I wanted. Even when he offered seven figures, I turned it down, because I knew my mom would lose her mind.

Recounting this portion of the experience, Hilton got candid about weighing her options at the time. She even said she considered appearing in Playboy, thinking it might be "awesome," but her mom was totally against it. And of course, she said she was still dealing with the ramifications of being branded a “slut” after a sex tape she had participated in was released. So, she said no. But that didn’t stop Hugh Hefner. 

In fact, in an excerpt from Paris: The Memoir (via People), Hilton describes how Hefner went out of the way to track down a photographer from an old photoshoot she’d participated in. He bought a photo of the reality star and gave her an award, allowing him to splash the photo on his cover. According to the former Simple Life star she only found out after the magazine was published.

I was like, ‘Whut?’ Hef had 'honored' me with the Sex Star of the Year Award, which means they can claim it's 'news' and not a pictorial. He got a picture from an old test shoot with a woman photographer. My parents were pissed, and I cried, but none of us confronted him, because you just didn't do that.

Paris Hilton isn’t the first woman in recent weeks to talk about experiences with Hugh Hefner. Former  Girls Next Door stars Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt have opened up about their experience being “recruited” at the Playboy Mansion and being asked to have sex with Hugh Hefner in front of other women – some of whom hated them. 

Though Paris Hilton was candid about needing to work through her feelings about sex in her memoir, a lot of that she says stem from her experiences with her sex tape and her boarding school and not her Playboy experience. While the cover experience was emotional, she’s been willing to go back and share pics from the Playboy mansion since. And just a couple of years after the photoshoot, she attended Hugh Hefner’s 81st birthday party at the Playboy Club (as seen in top image). 

While some women have seemingly had less-than-positive experiences, others have recalled enjoying appearing in Playboy over the years, such as Dolly Parton, who recreated her infamous Playboy cover at 75.  Pamela Anderson also recently revealed Hugh Hefner was the one person throughout her entire career whom she felt actually treated her with respect.  Heather Rae El Moussa has complicated feelings about her work with the magazine, noting she realizes it “catapulted” her career, but that she has no idea how she’s going to tell her children. A slew of other women, from Kim Kardashian to director Diablo Cody, have been featured in the past and commented about the experience. Still, clearly the magazine has a complicated legacy.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.