Hugh Hefner 'Loved Life and Loved What He Did,' Says Carmen Electra
“He just seemed like the kind of man that was like, ‘I’m going to have fun and live my life the way I want to, on my terms,'” Electra, who has graced Playboy‘s U.S. cover three times and appeared in other nude pictorials, tells PEOPLE of her time spent with the late media icon, who died Wednesday at 91.
Nowhere was that more evident than at the famous Playboy mansion in Beverly Hills which has long been synonymous with lavish, star-studded parties.
“He was the life of the party,” Electra tells PEOPLE. “Everybody loved him.
“He always had a smile on his face and was wearing his signature pajamas. He looked so cool. He was very friendly, would say ‘hi’ to everybody, get out there on the dance floor and dance. He loved it. You could tell he was a man that loved life and loved what he did and his accomplishments. He had huge dreams and he knew how to make that happen during a time when nudity was looked at as being vulgar. He created this global brand that will be remembered in history forever, and I feel honored to be a part of that.”
“He had his girlfriends with him — I always got a kick of that.”
Electra, 45, performed at the mansion several times over the years, and describes it as “Disneyland — but an adult Disneyland.”
“I sang and danced and did the strip tease number and hosted events there,” she recalls. “He was always there, and every time we would see each other it was like we really knew each other. He was always super sweet and would give you a big hug and a kiss.”
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The late trailblazer bought the mansion in 1971 for $1.1 million, and quickly covered the walls with all of Playboy‘s most iconic covers: “Marilyn Monroe’s, Anna Nicole Smith’s — it was this whole fantasy world,” says Electra.
And the parties themselves were packed with Playmates, bunnies and celebrities.
“I’ve never seen so many beautiful women in my life,” says Electra. “You would always see a bunch celebrity guys there, and they’re hanging out because they knew that was the place to go to meet these gorgeous women. Everyone would be dancing and it was always fun.”
“The first time I went it was just so cool, because I’d only seen footage on TV and in other photos,” she gushes. “I’ve never been in the water in the grotto, but I did go inside and got to check it out. He had his monkeys and they were so cute! It was this whole fantasy world.”
Electra is hopeful that Hefner’s legacy will live on for years to come.
“Hef fought so hard for Playboy,” she says. “He was thinking way ahead of his time. He was an entrepreneur and that imagination of his had him doing everything he dreamt of. I believe that there wasn’t one thing he wanted to do that he couldn’t accomplish.”