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Welcome to Hef's house  

Eric Neel

Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner surrounded by a sea of bikinis.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The grounds at the Playboy Mansion are smaller than you might think. It's a cozy place, really. A very nice backyard with a very nice pool on a very nice afternoon for a cookout. Folks are relaxed and enjoying themselves.

It could be anywhere, except for the fact the person standing next to you is Evander Holyfield, or Apolo Anton Ohno, or Eddie George, or Jimmy Connors, or a buxom young woman in a bikini.

It could be anywhere, except for the fact there are peacocks walking all over the joint, people are jumping around on a trampoline, and, oh yeah, there's a boxing ring in the middle of the lawn where Alex Trujillo is pounding on Juan Valenzuela.

That's right, it could be anywhere -- unless you count the legendary host in the front row surrounded by seven or eight Playmates, the television and news crews and -- did we mention? -- the women in bikinis.

OK, so it isn't just anywhere, it's Hef's house, it's the promised land, it's a little patch of hedonistic heaven.

And if you start to look around, you notice all the guests, even the most famous of them, are thrilled to be here. Beautiful, famous, well-dressed people are laughing at their good fortune, shaking their heads and taking long, appreciative looks at other beautiful, famous, well-dressed people walking by.
Sugar Ray Leonard
Page2's Eric Neel grilling Sugar Ray after scoring a credential to Hef's house.
Everybody and his brother is on a cell phone. They're not handling business, they're calling friends and family members to tell them where they are.

Guys are calling everyone they know, everyone they can think of, people they went to grade school with.

Each call goes something like this:

"Guess where I am right now? The Playboy-(expletive)-mansion. I'm serious. Can you believe it? I know! The PLAYBOY MANSION!"

Yeah, it's a wild scene. Everywhere you look you see someone who belongs in a big arena or on the pages of a magazine.

But it's a cool, easy scene, too. Not an uptight bone in Hef's body, not a staged, forced or awkward moment at his parties. That's what folks love about the Mansion: In the end, it's just a place to hang out, watch a fight, grab a few drinks and talk with friends.

Tom Brady is catching up with Pats owner Robert Kraft. Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather are comparing notes. Kobi Jones, Clint Mathis and Eric Wynalda are talking up a former Playmate, trying to arrange an insider's tour of the mansion.

"It's a great, great party," Eddie George says. "I just hope I can come back again."

Brady agrees: "There's just a few things in life you can't pass up, and this is one of them."

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