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PlaygroundA Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion
By Jennifer Saginor
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Jennifer Saginor
All right reserved.
It's 1975. I'm six when I see sex for the first time.
After school, I wait alone by the fence. Most of the other kids have gone home. I push my Coke-bottle-thick glasses up my small nose as my green eyes squint against the sun. I pull my long brown hair back into a ponytail.
Dad's housekeeper, Carmela, a Hispanic woman with broken English, blares the horn of Dad's champagne Rolls-Royce convertible from across the street. She picks me up today because Dad is too busy.
Carmela cooks, cleans, and drives, but mostly she is my friend.
"Jennifer!" she hollers.
I rush to the car and duck inside.
"Where's your sister?" she asks.
"She's at Mom's. She stayed home sick," I tell her.
Carmela drives the car carefully to my father's five-bedroom, six-bathroom estate in the heart of Beverly Hills. Pulling into the circular driveway, the automatic gate opens. Water trickles down a large Mediterranean-style fountain.
Inside the foyer, a huge staircase parts to the left and right, dividing the room. The walls display the works of Alberto Vargas: nude women with perky breasts and thin legs, and nude women clad in black fishnet and holding whips posing next to whitedogs. Dad's favorite is titled Temptation.
Arcade games and pinball machines line the living room walls and an air hockey table sits in the center. In the corner is an oldstyle jukebox. I punch in Linda Ronstadt and Kenny Rogers since my father's always telling me how lucky I am to know them.
I throw my Hello Kitty purse on the leather sofa and play a quick game of pinball. After beating my highest score, I go into the kitchen for a grilled cheese sandwich.
Carmela tells me now there's a note from my father at the top of the staircase in the pair of oversize porcelain breasts designed to hold mail. The note is placed between the breasts and reads, "I'm up at the Mansion. Have Carmela drop you off if you're bored."
I crumple the note, flicking it at the enormous AndyWarhol portrait displaying six different angles of my father's face on the wall.
I tear my eyes away from his multiple faces and ask Carmela to take me to Dad.
As we're driving down Sunset Boulevard my curiosity gets the best of me and I ask, "What's the Mansion?"
"You know, Jennifer, I am just supposed to drive you, you should ask your father," Carmela rambles.
We pull up to a gigantic barred black gate. I start to get a sick feeling in my stomach. We look around for a few minutes until we hear a voice coming from a large rock next to Carmela's window. If you look closely, you can see a small round speaker inside the rock.
"Carmela Delatora. I have Jennifer Saginor," she announces and the enormous gates open.
We drive up a long driveway and I notice at least five gardeners working on the cliff-like lawn. A castle comes into view and I instantly feel like Alice in Wonderland, diving into the Great Unknown. My nerves take over again as we near the massive gray stone mansion before us. I tell Carmela I've changed my mind and to please take me home. She assures me that my father is waiting inside as she pulls around the circular driveway. I ask her to come in, but she says that it would not be right.
Reluctantly, I slip out of the car and begin the journey of my life.
I enter a grand marble foyer to find men lined up in funny black penguin suits. The men smile at me creepily; they already know my name. One of them escorts me through an enormous living room with the biggest television screen I've ever seen. It's like a movie theater, but with soft plush couches, a fireplace, a grand piano, and as much free popcorn as you want. Lounging girls in short shorts, poufy hair, and Heaven T-shirts stare at me as I pass.
The butler opens the doors to a smoky room where five men glance up for a split second. They're playing cards. There's a built-in backgammon table that is surrounded by a comfy couch and leather chairs. My father's eyes instantly light up at the sight of me as he proudly introduces me to the men one by one. They nod, distractedly, and wave hello. Dad motions for me to say hello to Hef, the handsome, kind-looking man dressed casually in a silk robe.
"Hello, darling." Hef smiles graciously, as if he's known me my whole life. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Doc, you have such an adorable daughter, are you sure you're related?"
"Why, thanks, Hef. Your girls aren't so bad themselves."
Dad excuses himself and leads me through the screening room, where four young blondes jump up to kiss him and wrap their skinny arms around him.
Dad is a powerfully built man in his forties, with broad shoulders, an athletic body, manicured hands, and a handsome face -- a face people turn to look at. He's a doctor, but he looks more like a movie star playing the part of one.
He's the kind of guy everyone wants to know ...
Excerpted from Playground by Jennifer Saginor Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Saginor. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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