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Playboy Mansion? I Only Go for the Articles

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Years from now, when I'm recounting the story of the time I visited the Playboy mansion, I'm going to describe the astonishingly beautiful women, non-stop offers of sex and hanging around with Hef.

But you people — you're going to get the truth: Visiting the Playboy mansion was a lot like going to the Bat Cave, taking the White House tour and the time Jerry Seinfeld had sex with the Romanian gymnast.

Let me try to describe the evening.

Bat Cave, because our bus took such a circuitous route, around a winding street and up a steep hill, that I thought we were going to be knocked out so we would never know exactly where the mansion is. They didn't drug us, but there is zero chance I could ever find the place again without a couple of condoms. I mean a map.

When we arrived, Playboy Channel personnel were there to offer us the opportunity to have our picture taken with two bunnies. I declined — not because I've been happily, happily married for 27 years but because, well, I don't like having my picture taken under the best of circumstances. A picture of me flanked by two bunnies would approximate a turd sandwich. (And the bread on that sandwich didn't do a lot for me, anyway.)

Once inside the grounds, we were pointed to the famous grotto, where, legend has it, there's a nightly orgy. The grotto is a sauna underneath a rock waterfall and pool. Inside, nothing. It was empty and steamy hot. Outside, the grounds were well equipped with women poured into short, tight dresses. Cleavage, as far as the eye could see. Or, as Tony Roberts said in "Annie Hall," it was "like Playboy magazine, except the women can move their arms and legs." Actually, I didn't see anyone hot enough to be in Playboy. Because you can't airbrush reality.

Penelope, Miss March 2003, showed us around the grounds. In the back yard, peacocks strutted. Along a curvy pathway, we saw cages of rabbits and monkeys. We walked past the front of the house (no, pasty TV critics, you may not enter), a stately stone mansion with a slate roof. At times like these, I wish I knew more about architecture. But I can tell you, courtesy of Penelope, that inside is "grand," with 14 bedrooms.

She walked us through the aviary room, a sanctuary for 199 kinds of birds, assorted fish and reptiles. Through the game room, where I played Space Invaders pinball (the Playboy pinball machines weren't on) and Pac-man, and she told us about the three bedrooms, one of which has a spring floor. The bedrooms are equipped, she said, with lube, condoms and other amenities. To the lighted tennis court, which also has a basketball hoop. And to the outside of the guest house, where Playmates stay when they're filming, testing or "just broke up with our boyfriends."

All genuinely impressive. And yet, just like the White House tour: You get to see some things, just not the stuff you'd like (want?) to see. Hugh Hefner was nowhere to be found. We didn't get inside the house. And there was no, well, you know.

Like Seinfeld when he had sex with the Romanian gymnast, I thought I was entering a magical world of sensual delights. And years from now, that'll be exactly what it was.

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