The Playboy mansion was hidden behind huge gates and a thick hedge on the hilly roads below Sunset Boulevard.

Two men ogled for a closer view outside and one pointed his camera towards the gate. I drove up the winding driveway and a voice from a speaker hidden in a rock asked what I wanted.

Hugh Hefner, of course. I was promised five minutes to photograph the playboy of all playboys. “Hef gets impatient when having his photo taken,” his publicist said. The fans stepped back as the gates parted.

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner poses for a portrait at his Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, California, July 27, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“Playmates at Play,” cautioned a yellow road sign. But there were no Playboy bunnies frolicking on the grounds — only an army of gardeners and a few strutting peacocks and parrots.

The gothic-tudor building looked like an English country house, with various coats of arms decorating stained glass windows.