The Playboy mansion isn't a playground, but a squalid, doggie-doo-infested dungeon. And Lord of the Manor

Hugh Hefner

ain't a nice guy, but a tyrannical monster who treats his girls, whom he plies with Quaaludes, like prostitutes.

So claims former occupant Izabella St. James in a new tell-all excerpted by the Brit tabs.

St. James says Hugh's girls had to live in dirty rooms with "disgusting . . . old worn and stained" mattresses. Hef's room also was filthy, she says, its carpet covered in dog poop. St. James claims Hef humiliated the girls, especially on Fridays, when he handed our their $1,000-a-week allowance. And he expected his girls - he had 3 to 15 gfs at a time - to have sex parties with him en masse.

St. James cites former Hef girl Jill Ann Spaulding, who says she was shocked to learn that the publishing giant refused to use condoms. "There was no protection and no testing for sexually transmitted diseases," says Spaulding.

Worse, says St. James, Hef, 84, who relied on Viagra, was anything but a sex-machine: "He just lay there like a dead fish." Hef, whose new fiancee, Crystal Harris, is 60 years his junior, has yet to comment.

Meanwhile, political journal Politico.com has posted a breezy interview with Hef, calling the octagenarian "a down-home, likable, and in a sense, very ordinary person."

John Cleese? 'No longer funny'

So says Brit film critic

David Thomson

, in

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

just excerpted in the tabs. Thomson doesn't pull punches when it comes to expressing his distaste for some of Tinseltown's heaviest hitters.

Keira Knightley, he writes, is "as interesting as a creme brulée where too much refrigeration has killed flavour with ice burn." Hugh Grant is "an incipent sneeze looking for a vacant nose," while Tom Cruise is "the representative of all that is immature in American cinema today. . . . [He] is the worst of the spoilt brats of Hollywood."

Thomson isn't a total misanthrope. He seems taken with Angelina Jolie, writing of his wonder for "the carnal embouchure that is her mouth," adding, "It could blind anyone."

Friends deserve an El Dorado

Alan Jackson

knows how to thank his pals: The country crooner thanked fellow Georgian

Zac Brown

for asking him to warble on the

Zac Brown Band

's Grammy-nominated hit, "She's Walking Away," by giving him a 1966 Cadillac El Dorado.

"He was nice to include me on that," Alan tells USA Today. "He's a pretty good fellow, and I just wanted to do something for him."

Another royal baby

British monarch

Queen Elizabeth II

has become a great-grandmother. HRH's grandson

Peter Phillips

, 33, and his Montreal-born wife,

Autumn Phillips

, 32, have welcomed a yet-to-be-named baby girl, the palace announced Thursday. The baby was delivered at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces. Peter Phillips is

Princess Anne

's only child, and the queen's oldest grandchild.

They'll be healthier, nicer . . . richer

What kind of grave, soul-searing, existential resolutions have celebs made for 2011?

Miley Cyrus, who greeted her 18th year on Earth with a bang - and a bong - is eager to do some serious veni, vidi, vici-ing 'round the globe: "I want to go on some cool trips," Celebdom's latest bad-girl-in-training says on her Web site. "I want to . . . go out and do what I'm here to do, and that's to help people and make people happy." No one said she couldn't fly high while serving humankind . . . .

Jack Black, 41, is famed for his caustic, rapier wit. But he's as beloved for his delish cuddly-round-tummy - which he unveils for all to see in Gulliver's Travels. Still, he aspires to ruin his bod. "My New Year's resolution is to drop 50 [pounds]," he tells USA Today.

Amazon Eve's new career

Who is the world's tallest model, you ask? That'd be

Amazon Eve

(possibly not her real name), a California gal who stands 6-foot-8.

Eve, 31, was discovered by Australian mag Zoo Weekly, which featured her on its November cover. (Zoo Weekly? That's just wrong.)

When not modeling, Eve wrestles with male contenders for $400 a pop.

Helena: He snores!

Helena Bonham Carter

and beau

Tim Burton

don't share a bed - or even a home. Carter tells Britain's Radio Times the couple have adjoining houses because she can't stand his snoring: "Tim does snore, and that's an element." The other element? They need space to think, being, as they are, creative geniuses.

Jackson estate blasts British show

Variety says lawyers for

Michael Jackson

's estate have written a letter of protest to Discovery Communications over plans by the cabler's British channel to air a Jackson special that includes a fictional re-creation of the pop star's postmortem. In other MJ news, L.A. Deputy District Attorney

David Walgren

says the involuntary manslaughter trial of MJ doc

Conrad Murray

is about to take an interesting turn. Walgren says the doc, who is accused of killing MJ, will claim MJ killed himself by injecting himself with the anesthetic Propofol. Will he claim it was suicide? We'll have to wait and see.

This article includes information from Inquirer wire services and websites.

Contact "Sideshow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.