Playboy beauty from Northern Ireland on her party days at Hefner mansion
Belcoo beauty rubbishes claims magazine magnate was a creep
Playboy beauty Laurena Lacey has hit out at claims that the late Hugh Hefner was a creep.
The 31-year-old from Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, has fond memories of lavish parties at the famous Playboy mansion in Los Angeles hosted by Hefner, who died last week aged 91.
"Hugh was actually very quiet when I saw him, he wasn't outlandish at all," said Laurena.
But the parties were something else.
"I used to go along to their Halloween party which was the best party, they had actors and built different kinds of environments outside and a zoo with lots of different wild animals," she recalled.
"They were fond of the Irish for sure, they were always really receptive."
Following his death many critics labelled former magazine magnate Hefner an old sleazebag - but Laurena believes the characterisation is very unfair "He was very much a showbiz person," she said.
"I think a lot of the criticism is hyped up to portray him in a certain way."
Laurena was the first model from Northern Ireland or the Republic to follow the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson in posing for Playboy.
She also dismissed claims that Playboy models were pressured into having cosmetic enhancement.
"They actually prefer women to be more natural, I think people are pressured into cosmetic surgery through the standards of others, I don't think it would be Playboy directly," she said.
She described the news of Hefner's death at the age of 91 as "quite sad" but said she could see he was in decline the last time they met.
"I was sad one of the last times I saw him at a party in LA last year because he didn't seem that engaged," explained Laurena.
"He just seemed like he was going along with things for the sake of it.
"He wasn't fully engaged in the environment, it was just like he was not really there."
As well as modelling for glamour shoots for the legendary men's magazine, the Belcoo blonde was a party-goer at the famed Los Angeles Playboy mansion.
Now living in London, Laurena has embarked on a new career in developing motion capture software for video games and films.
"I've started working in 3-D animation and I was working on a cutting edge technology solution synthesising muscle information for 3-D characters to be used in movie quality games," she explained.
"We were also designing a Playboy interactive game with the photographer Stephen Wayday from Playboy.
"I was the base body for that modelling and I learnt project management from there."
Laurena decided to step out of the limelight as the glamour modelling industry was transformed by the rise of free online content.
"I still do the odd shoot because I enjoy it but it's over saturated now," she said. "Everyone does everything for free, the photographers and the models do everything for free.
"The only way to really make anything is to build a following online.
"I didn't really do it for those reasons as I enjoyed the process of it and a lot of the other aspects of it are negative. Getting a lot of attention is not necessarily a good thing."
Laurena still visits her family in Fermanagh but considers London her home now. Previously, she had spoken of how not everyone in her home county approved of her Playboy work, with some old friends even refusing to speak to her due to the racy nature of her snaps.