Former Playboy cover model Lisa Guerrero says Secrets of Playboy changed the way she views her time working with the magazine.
“I dodged multiple bullets,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment ahead of Monday’s final episode.
Over the past three months, A&E’s docuseries examined Hugh Hefner‘s empire through a modern-day lens. For weeks, viewers have heard horrific allegations about what purportedly went on at the Playboy Mansion from Hefner’s former employees and girlfriends. Many of the disturbing claims were levied at the publishing mogul. For Guerrero, who hosts tonight’s special episode, she feels she “dodged a bullet.”
Guerrero signed with Playboy Models around age 20 and it was made clear she could quickly rise the ranks.
“When you signed with them, they encouraged you to go to the mansion for movie nights,” she recalls. “Back then I didn’t drink. I was really naive and I thought, ‘Wow, the Playboy Mansion that’s famous.’ And so I went and I was so intimidated. There was all these older men and I was really uncomfortable.”
During her first visit to the mansion, Guerrero met Hefner — and he made quite the impression.
“I met Hugh Hefner and he leaned in for a kiss and I turned my head and it was like a dog slobbering, like an open mouth kiss. He seemed so old to me,” she shares. “Again, I was naive. I looked older than I was… I was just really uncomfortable at the mansion. However, I discovered that they had a great buffet before the movie nights and I was a struggling model actress.”
When Guerrero returned for another movie night, she brought with her empty Tupperware containers.
“When all these people went into the screening room for movie night, I put a bunch of food into my Tupperware and snuck out before the old men came out to hit on the girls,” she remembers. “About the third time I did that, a woman came out of the kitchen and I thought I was busted. I thought they were gonna kick me out. But what she was really doing was giving me prepackaged to go containers with the food in it. And she said, you don’t have to bring Tupperware next time.”
While it was a nice gesture from Hefner’s staffer, Guerrero now realizes how creepy the whole thing was.
“Now I know it’s because they had hidden cameras everywhere. I learned that from the series. So that’s how I got busted,” she adds.
Guerrero stopped going to the mansion, but did some modeling for Playboy lingerie. She says she was asked to pose as a centerfold for Playboy for years, which she turned down as she wanted “to be taken seriously” and pursue a career as a journalist. Soon, her career took off as a sportscaster, but Playboy and Hefner were still interested. Finally at the urging of her husband, she agreed to do a celebrity cover at age 40.
“You’re 40, you’re Latina. Like how many 40-year-old Latinas are on the cover of Playboy?” she remembers her husband saying. “You know, Cindy Crawford’s done it, Halle Berry.”
She was featured on a cover in January 2006, which prompted Inside Edition, her future employer, to do a story about her.
“Then a couple weeks later, they offered me a two year contract as a west coast correspondent for the show. That grew into my dream job because a few years later, I was promoted to chief investigative correspondent,” she says. “So what I’ve been doing ever since has been my dream job.”
Guerrero says she “used to laugh” about how funny it was how she used Playboy, “they didn’t use me.”
“I never thought of my Playboy experience as negative until I watched the show. And when I watched Secrets of Playboy, I realized that I dodged the bullet. I dodged multiple bullets and I was shocked to hear about it. I knew there was a darkness at the mansion… but I didn’t know the extent of it,” she says.
Secrets of Playboy “The Aftermath” airs on Monday, April 4 at 9 p.m. on A&E.