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EXCLUSIVE: Crystal Hefner on 'finding herself again', her new boyfriend, and relationship with Hugh Hefner's children

Crystal opens up seven years after the death of Hugh Hefner

Permission from Crystal Hefner
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It's been almost seven years since Crystal Hefner left the Playboy Mansion after the death of her husband, Hugh Hefner, and a slow journey to figuring out who she is. 

It hasn't been easy - but as she releases her tell-all memoir Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself, and talks about settling into a happy relationship, Crystal confirms to HELLO! that she finally knows who she is.

Crystal is now dating someone who is "very kind and normal and respectful"© Permission from Crystal Hefner
Crystal is now dating someone who is "very kind and normal and respectful"

Crystal's dating life

"When I first started trying to date after the mansion, I didn't know how to do it," she explains. "I spoke to a matchmaker and they asked me, 'What do you like?'" 

She froze in response to the question, realizing that she didn't even know what she liked.

"I spent so much time liking everything Hef liked and doing everything he wanted to do and being his shadow and mirroring his self importance back to him," she said, referring to the Playboy founder.

Crystal is "a romantic at heart"© Permission from Crystal Hefner
Crystal is "a romantic at heart"

Not knowing who she was, Crystal ended up in "two bad relationships" - one with "a struggling musician", and another with "a struggling actor". 

"They were manipulative and controlling," she asserts, but after some time in therapy, she's now dating someone who she describes as "very kind and normal and respectful".

Crystal has been dating a Bostonian film producer, reportedly Andrew D. Corkin, for the past six months, telling us that she met her beau on the dating app Raya.

She opens up about her "healthy and respectful" relationship© Permission from Crystal Hefner
She opens up about her "healthy and secure" partner

"It's so nice to be around someone who's healthy and secure with themselves," she gushes. "It's hard to be with very insecure people because they take things personally. It's hard! I think Hef was very insecure." 

Despite her highly publicized dating past, Crystal still believes in love, describing herself as a "romantic at heart". 

"I'd love to get married again with a real wedding one day," she adds. She even wants children one day, as she's frozen her eggs. For now though, Crystal and Andrew are taking it slow.

"I love my own space," she reveals. "The house that I'm in, I've lived in for the last three years and it finally feels like a home. It doesn't feel like I'm just visiting. The mansion never felt like a home. I had no privacy there. This truly feels like a home for me so I'm very much taking my time and we'll see how it goes from there."

Reflecting on the Mansion

At 37-years-old, Crystal has more than enough perspective to reflect on her life in the Playboy Mansion, which began when at aged 21, the then-psychology student attended one of the legendary Playboy parties and met Hugh Hefner - better known Hef. Not long after, she moved into the mansion, climbing the ranks from a Playmate to one of Hef's top girlfriends - and eventually his wife. 

In the book she describes how the mansion was both her sanctuary and her prison. While she got to enjoy a sprawling estate with a menagerie of animals, tanning beds and a pool, the cost was her freedom, privacy and boundaries. 

It's not lost on Crystal now that Hef died a month before MeToo truly gained traction - and she learned a lot from the movement.

Crystal reflects on the Mansion© Permission from Crystal Hefner
Crystal reflects on the Mansion

"I had no boundaries before MeToo," she admits. "Just in the last few years I'm learning to have them because I was just a people pleaser." 

She adds: "The MeToo movement helped me justify that it wasn't okay how Hef's friends treated people, how Hef treated people. Hef's friends would come and give you a big hug and press their bodies against you to try and feel against your body." 

In her book she goes into more detail about how she was treated, describing the "friend of Hef's on the couch next to me, leaning uncomfortably close" and the "famous movie star in the hallway who wanted to run his hands over me".

Now, she's able to reflect on this for what it truly was: "It was disgusting and at the time I just thought this is how guys are. Now it's been proven to the world that that's not how men should behave."

Hugh Hefner's kids

Crystal named her book "Only Say Good Things" in reference to a promise she made Hef before he died, about how she would treat his legacy, but her account is an honest reflection of the Playboy life. But what do Hef's kids think of the book?

Los Angeles, CA - OCTOBER 25:  (L-R) Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefner and Crystal Hefner attend Playboy Mansion's Annual Halloween Bash at The Playboy Mansion on October 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)© Charley Gallay
Crystal with Hugh and his son Cooper

According to the 37-year-old, "they understand - they get it". She recalls speaking to Marston Hefner.

"We get along,"  she says. "I'm going to Disneyland with one of his other children. We started planning going to Disneyland and I said 'I'm sure you've seen press on the book I just wanted to tell the truth'. He just thumbs up'd the text."

Crystal explains that Hef openly said "he wasn't a good father". Instead of focusing on his family, "he was focused on all the girls. So it's hard. It's complicated for them," she adds.

Finding herself

Now that Crystal is settled in her new home, with a stable relationship, she can focus on what she truly likes.

"I like being around nature, I'm introverted, I like having small groups of friends that I feel really close to," she lists. "I like spending time with my dog. I don't like being in Hollywood. Learning what I liked has really helped me find myself."

Crystal's book Say Only Good Things is out now© Permission from Crystal Hefner
Crystal's book Say Only Good Things is out now

Crystal hopes that through her book, she can help other women: "So many women have written to me and said the book has helped them and that just makes me feel so happy. So many women looked up to the playboy mansion. So I'm glad I was able to tell them it isn't what you thought it would be."

She has always had an urge to help people, which is why she first decided to study psychology at San Diego State University before she met Hefner. Now, she is thinking of going back to school: "I want to finish my degree. I want to go back and get my degree, I want to go back to my original surname and just go all the way back to myself."

Only Say Good Things by Crystal Hefner is out now in hardback, audio and ebook, published by Ebury Spotlight.

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