Holly Madison talks ‘intimate emotional connection’ with boyfriend after being diagnosed with autism at 42 (Exclusive)


Before her new authentic crime series, “Lethally Blonde,” debuted, the former Vogue model spoke with PEOPLE.


Holly Madison, 42, received an autism diagnosis just this summer.

The former Playboy model tells PEOPLE that she truly treasures the revelation since it let her integrate a lot of her earlier interpersonal experiences. After leaving the house, she went on becoming a popular author, podcasts host, and producer of true crime series.

Madison, who is now 43, states, “I’m thrilled that that I received a diagnosis since I understand the reasons why I work what I perform, how I function the way I do, and how I interact with people.” “Knowing that has boosted my social skills,” I said.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) represents a brain and developmental illness that affects a person’s ability to interact with others as well, communicate, learn, and behave, according by the National Institutes of Health. ASD can be detected at any age, despite the fact that symptoms often manifest in the initial two decades of life.

Holly Madison for “Lethally Blonde,” her upcoming true crime series. WARNER BROS DISCOVERY COURTESY

In a December audio interview, the doctor informed me that I have good executive functioning, which allows me to basically go about my day and do things “normally.”

People may find it insulting since I tend to be quieter, I only recently learned how to make eye contact, and I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts. She laughed and added, “Damn, you’re not really curious about me, f— you.” “Please don’t take it personally; I’m simply not on the precise same societal frequency as other folks. I enjoy being able to clarify that.

Even when she lived in the Playboy Mansion for almost all of her twenties, Madison has always been upfront about how difficult it was for her to relate to her peers.

When I go back, all I can see is how difficult it was for me to connect with people back then. She now tells PEOPLE, “I think that went into a couple of the choices I made.” I think being a person on the spectrum of autism was a barrier for me, but I also felt like I bonded with some people more than others and thought, “Oh, this might have been intended for me since I had not related with somebody before.”

Madison dated Pasquale Rotella after leaving the house at the age of 29, and the two had two children together: 11-year-old Rainbow Aurora and 7-year-old Forest Leonardo.

Even though the two’s divorce was finalized in 2019, James Madison still has pleasant memories of their relationship because of the gift of her two kids.

“I know many others who went through something similar to what I went through [at the house], to the point where they claimed to be celibacy for a while. For me, it wasn’t the case,” says Madison. “I immediately resumed dating. And I’m happy I did as I had two wonderful children as a result.

Holly Madison, together with her two kids, Forest and Rainbow. INSTAGRAM/HOLLY MADISON

After learning that she has autism, Madison, who has supposedly been with Zak Bagans for a number of years, praises him for how he has handled the news.

The Lethally Blue producer says, “I’m fortunate to be dating somebody who just sort of comprehends myself and accepted mine for what I are, so getting a diagnosis wasn’t super startling to him.” “I’m fortunate that I haven’t had a lot of difficulty connecting emotionally with someone in a close and personal way in recent relationships.”

Lethally Blonde, Madison’s new sitcom, premieres on ID on Mondays at 10/9c.


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