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October 24, 2014

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A candid conversation with Hugh Hefner

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Leila Navidi

Hugh Hefner’s 83rd birthday party celebration at the Palms Place pool in Las Vegas on Saturday.

*Check out this story with all its accompanying photos, photo galleries and videos at VegasDeLuxe.com.*

For the first time, Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner has revealed that longtime love 29-year-old Holly Madison left him and The Playboy Mansion, and Hef also told me in a one-on-one interview that he felt lost in hitting the emotional speed bump. Hef’s new gal pal, 22-year-old Crystal Harris, confided to me that she could see he was hurt and helped him get over the heartache.

Here’s the transcript of our conversation at the Palms Place pool cabana during his weekend birthday celebrations (Hef turns 83 on Thursday) -- and you can see our video below with Crystal and the Shannon twins Karissa and Kristina:

Robin Leach: Hef, first everybody wishes you a Happy 83rd Birthday. Today you have six ladies on your arm! How do you do it, and what’s the secret?

Hugh Hefner: I’m dancing as fast as I can. How else do you celebrate longevity than turn it into a celebration?

RL: From one guy to another guy, what was the feeling when Holly, Kendra and Bridget first arrived with the new twins and meeting Crystal for the first time?

HH: I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate my birthday. It was the past and the present, but for me the past is never really the past. It’s ongoing. To see the three of them together again -- they all have their own careers now, and that’s special on many levels.

RL: Was it a case of love being lost and found again? Passing from one trio to another?

HH: Oh yeah, when Holly decided to leave, it was a real speed bump for me, yes.

RL: That means you can’t let Crystal leave.

HH: I have no plans of it.

RL: We live in challenging times, and many changes are taking place for you that you have to cope with both in business and personally at a late stage in life. How are you facing it all?

HH: We’re doing the best that we can. I think everyone faces the same kind of problems economically. These are tough times for magazines, for print in general; it’s a tough time for the world. But I’m old enough to remember the Great Depression; I grew up in the Great Depression. I can’t say it’s a nostalgic time, but I’ve been there before, and sometimes that brings out the absolute best in people. It brings people together, and we need a lot of that on the planet.

RL: With daughter Christie Hefner stepping down from the Playboy presidency, are your sons now going to rise to fill the throne and follow in your footsteps?

HH: We’ll see. There are a lot of questions at the time being. They are both in college. One has just started college, and the other is about to begin college. So they have four years before they really start thinking about careers, but they are both interested in the old man’s business, so we’ll see.

RL: Celebrating another milestone birthday, do you feel 83? Do you feel 53? Do you feel 33?

HH: The honest answer to that is that some days I feel like 93, and some days I feel like 20. The new trio is where the 20 part comes in! That’s the secret. Yeah, the absolute best part of my life is these romantic connections. I am very, very fortunate to have found such very lovely ladies at this point in my life after having hit the emotional speed bump that I did last summer.

RL: What’s left for you to achieve at this stage of your life?

HH: Savoring what has come before, celebrating it, and sharing it with those I love.

RL: Which is what you’re doing today? Everybody says they can’t bring you a gift because you already have everything in the world -- except for this special party. Do you still have the empty tomb beside Marilyn Monroe’s resting place marked for whenever? What do you think you’ll put on that tombstone?

HH: Well it was Jimmy Stewart’s movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. … But I’d like to be remembered as somebody who played some part in changing our social sexual values. It was time, and I think my position in terms of that is secure.

RL: So you would say, “He lived and he loved”?

HH: Yes, absolutely.

RL: And never lost.

HH: Well I wouldn’t say that.

RL: You wouldn’t? What did you lose?

HH: Well, I think that is the nature of love and life. You win a few. You lose a few.

RL: I think you’ve won!

HH: I agree!

And on that note -- as you can see in our video -- his new three pack of glamour girls kissed him on his cheeks!

Then I talked with his new No. 1 girlfriend, Crystal, a psychology student from San Diego. She will return to school this fall to continue her studies for a psychology degree, but is transferring from San Diego to Beverly Hills. “Both Hef and I have psychology in common, so that is an area we have much discussion about. He is the sweetest, kindest man I have ever met. I’ve never dated an older man before, but we just clicked instantly,” Crystal told me.

“We met on Halloween Eve at the Mansion. We talked. He invited me to stay the night, and I wound up staying from Thursday through Tuesday morning. The twins, who were already in residence at the mansion, didn’t quite like that happening so fast at first, but now we are all best friends.

“From the moment we met, I knew he was hurting from the breakup with Holly. I wanted to help him through that hurt, and then we just fell in love. It has been wonderful for both of us. I don’t know where it will lead, but I had always told my mom I wasn’t going to have kids, so that’s not going to be a problem with him that he’s had in the past. And I’m way too young to want to get married, so let’s just go have fun.”

Crystal told me that she had a special birthday treat in store for Hef back in the privacy of their Playboy suite. “I’m making my burlesque debut for him. I’ve got these thigh-high boots, fishnet stockings -- the whole works -- and an antique bustier corset. I’ve never done anything like that before, but I’m a good sport, so I will really give it my best shot. Some of it will be filmed for the new Girls Next Door series, but we’ll kick out the cameras to finish it in private!”

Click HERE for our Vegas DeLuxe story, video and photos from Hef’s 2 p.m. to midnight partying at the Palms Place pool, his dinner at N9NE Steakhouse and the two parties at The Playboy Club and Moon nightclub.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.