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Archive for the ‘Alcoholism’ Category

On the beach in Acapulco Buck, Ludmila and Ron lavender Children

On the beach in Acapulco Buck, Ludmila and Ron lavender Children

While still in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, I was really having fun with Buck,and finally Ruth went back to L.A. Of course she told her son about my promiscuous behavior. Jack keep calling and asking, “When are your coming back home?” But there was always another party to go to, so one more last time we went to the big Disco in Acapulco. I loved the balloons at midnight, the confetti and serpentinas, it was so gay and such fun dancing with Buck! I got carried away on the dance floor, then something terrible happened: I fell down to the floor drunk and shaking…
I got up, smiled and continued dancing Then again I fell down, and I remember saying to myself “What is this? am I really so drunk ? how embarrassing!” And once again I fell down, so I said to Buck, “Lets sit down at our table!” Finally I told Buck “Lets go home.” But everybody came along with us, thinking that as usual I was just taking the party someplace else. I don’t even remember how or when we arrived back at Buck s, and I don’t remember who stayed behind and who came to Buck’s house, but apparently it included some other young ladies.

Dining in D.F. whit Buck and very important people

Dining in D.F. whit Buck and very important people

 

I was awakened by hands groping me and this young beautiful girl kissing me all over! Well, l got up, took another drink and the sex party proceeded, until I passed out and woke up for cocktail time that evening. I went down those long beautiful stairs that went around above the living room to reach the bar, where Buck and Rudy and Anna and Ron and everybody else was standing there. Arturo arrived with his wife Mary Arden and Buck’s sister. After the cocktails we went to dinner and someone said, “Diane is arriving day after tomorrow,” so I said to Buck, “Book me on the flight tomorrow to L.A. please!”

Going up the stairs to pack, I saw he had hung pictures and even a large portrait of me on the wall! In fact, there were many pictures of us everywhere on the home.. I could not take them with me, there were too many things to pack, so I left them behind. Well, she destroyed them all!) I was too hungover to pack or think about anything., my head was pounding and I heard the sound of a voice: “Its time to go home, I stayed too long at this party, its over, “Its time for Jack to put me over his shoulder and take me home.” But of course he was not there , or he would have done just that, so I had to do it myself!, Jack was totally the opposite of this gentle Charles Rogers (Buck his nickname) from Boston, high society and descendant of the Boston tea party. One of his great grandfathers was a pirate, and his ship had been confiscated by the first U.S.Navy to start the first naval fleet.
The next morning, as I was still posing for personal pictures at the airport, saying goodbye to all my friends and Buck, I was oblivious to the fact that Diane had changed her schedule and was already arriving in Acapulco! I headed out to the plane in the shirt that Buck gave me because I liked it so much. Just as I was almost ready to get on the plane, I saw her descending the ramp from her plane! It was just a miracle that we did not run right into each other that day, or the fur would have flown! That would not be a happy meeting! Somehow of course we missed each other, thank God, because I was too busy saying goodbye to Buck and to Acapulco.

Later he called me and told me that he was divorcing her and she was taking everything he had, including the Pierce Arrow– (like she needed it!) along with a Cadillac and some other cars, all of which poor Buck had gladly given her. Katy (one of his daughters) and I were good friends and she wrote me all the time, so we had good memories of our friendship and she kept me informed of all these things. Our friendship continued for a long time, writing to each another, so I learned that she burned all my things and all my pictures and he had asked her for a final divorce. That was a big scandal! I never met the lady so I can only speak from what I heard and my own experience. I would see Buck a couple more times, but only as friends, not lovers…

Buck had a beautiful home with its wide open spaces, Mexican baroque style with a tile pool, palm trees, and separate quarters for the servants (who did not like me–they were all faithful to his wife Diane, who was busy taking him to the cleaners, leaving him with no balls!) I guess that’s why all his friends loved me, because they said I restored him to manhood by “giving him back his balls.” That was where I should have burned one bridge and chosen the other, but that’s so difficult when the time comes, to know which bridge to burn and which to cross!.

This was only the beginning, going down the torturous road of alcoholism. I should have quit then. But I didn’t, I was too obliterated and drunk to care When I finally arrived home I received a bunch of photos of me in the mail, in the front row at Reni’s big funeral. Life was getting a little rougher on me, sending me a message that I did not understand at the time.

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Some people will say that mine is the behavior of an alcoholic, and yes, that is very possible. But I don’t intend to blame any one person or event; yes, its true I am an alcoholic, and I have been proudly sober for many years. So my life has now changed completely, and I give all credit to my Creator whom I choose to call God, and to my persistent work at it, and the loving help of others that may have similar stories. I don’t know their reason for drinking, nor will I pretend to analyze anyone,else. I only can say we have a common space on the same sinking ship and we must survive or die,–but first get out of the drowning sea of alcohol.That is the way it is- some must die for others to live.

Sitting on the ranch with Jose

Sitting at the ranch with Jose

Getting back home in LA, Jack had some unhappy news for me. My dear boss and old friend Reni Otolina was here in Westwood; Jack helped him to get this gorgeous home not too far from UCLA medical headquarters, because his daughter Rona was now paralyzed from the waist down. She had been out smoking pot, drinking and partying with her friends, like teenagers do, and she wanted to be the first to jump in the pool.

When she and her friends got to her home, it was dark, and unknown to her, the pool had been emptied by the caretaker. Of course, nobody expected anyone to be diving into the pool at 3am! But she just ran and jumped in the empty pool, and now she was a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Reny had brought her and his entourage to LA because UCLA had the very best doctors and facilities at that time.

So after I left Monterrey and came back home, I found that my dear friends were here but poor Rona was paralyzed. The very next day they were celebrating Rina’s birthday and of course we were all invited. The names of this family were as follows:  Reni, his wife Rene, and the the two  girls Rona and Rina. I told him it was a good thing he didn’t have another daughter because she would have been Rana, which means frog in Spanish!

So we arrived to this fantastic party in Westwood near the U.C.L.A. medical center. There were movie stars and socialites, most of them from Venezuela, a full house! We went in to say hello to everyone and then of course I headed straight to the bar. And right in front of me behind the bar, playing around with the bartender, was this very tall blonde young man. He just stared at me and I stared back at him. I said my respects to everyone without taking my eyes off of his eyes, which were following me around the room. Hello! Hello! Finally I was back close to him, and he came out from behind the bar and put his arms around me and we said hello with the most passionate kiss in front of everyone! Not just a friendly beso on the cheek, as is customary in Venezuela or Spain! And of course, his name was Jose as well!

From there we were talking all night and dancing and laughing, Jack was again doing business, wheeling and dealing as usual. Jose number three and I became lovers at first sight, and for a long time he even moved in to our big ranch house. Yes, I fell in love with this young man! We would bicycle, ride horseback, go dancing at the discos. But he had a secret– he was more gay than straight, which I did not know and probably did not want to believe! Quaaludes were his drug of choice and cocaine too of course. So  in 1974 our lives proceeded to become one big party at our beautiful very comfortable ranch home in Northridge.

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Filming a movie

I am grateful for all the men in my life, and especially grateful for all the places they took me and the lessons that they taught me– solid gold and pure Fort Knox!

My life with Jack was an open marriage, but I did not understand that completely. In any case, I did what I wanted, regardless of my husband, so I was invited to incredible parties as a model, without my husband. Likes the one at Paul Newman’s  house, when I took my sister with me; of course, first that afternoon I went to the bank, opened the security box for jewelry, and got a little cocaine from my stash for that night. My sister had no idea I was using coke yet.

The house of Paul Newman was full of people, stars like Ali MAcGraw, but also hippies, motorcycle riders, and other types. Later on there was a big fight, I don’t remember if I provoked it or what?  My sister was singing Russian songs with the pianist, when I ran into the room grabbed her by the hand and said lets get out of here! Bottles were flying overhead , drunk and high people were screaming, and we just ran and ran until we reached where the  taxis, we could find the one we came on.. We were  laughing and bewildered, but I lost a beautiful brooch that William had given me on that mad dash. I don’t even know where we were in the Hollywood Hills? That was the craziest experience at a house of the rich and famous, but I did meet Ben Gazzara and we had a couple  of encounters, he love “poppers” very common at that time…. more of this in my book…..

Dancing whit Bernard Apteker

Dancing with Bernard Apteker

Christmas time came and we were invited to Dean Martin’s house in Beverly Hills for Noche Buena. Well, there was Lucille Ball, Shirley Maclaine and many big names– they were all there, but especially Rex Harrison! I was fascinated by him, he was wearing a dark blue tuxedo with velvet sandals , slippers,, and I just looked down at his feet. Of course I had seen him in My Fair Lady in London with William, so memories came back into my head. I was amazed, flabbergasted, speechless (well almost!) that here was the man I dreamed of meeting years ago, right in front of me, talking to me !!  He saw my look at his feet, as I was surprised by the dark blue slippers that he was wearing, and said with a beautiful Henry Higgins attitude, “A man of my age is allowed to be comfortable!”  I could not help but have a wicked smile when I heard him speak, as I looked up into his fantastic eyes, and heard him saying: “I can always be well-dressed but can’t  tolerate being uncomfortable on my feet! ” as he proceeded very elegantly to ask where I could be reached. Of course, I was always prepared and had a little gold pen (yes another present from William) and a little note book. This was part of my job, since I never knew when I would meet someone that could gave me a job. That was all part of show business, so I give him my number. He was so charming and well mannered, I loved that to no end!

Of course it looked like I was there alone, since no one realized that I was married and had a husband with me. Jack was off in the Martin library reading, then trying to wheel and deal with some gentleman I did not recognize him but anything to promote Jack’s music company. In fact, Jack rarely went to parties since he was not a drinker like all of the rest of us. Soon I was chatting with Ginny and Dean Martin; Dean was complaining that his bartender did not know how to do his scotch and soda drink. Of course I did because that is what I drank!,   I assumed he liked it the same way I did, so I went over to the bar and I told the bartender, “Please pour two shots of whisky over 3 cubes of ice with just a splash of soda!” Dean loved it, and we became friends! People at the party were smoking pot openly; I couldn’t believe my eyes– aren’t they worried about being seen?  Later I learned that  in Hollywood stars homes,, what goes on among than, stays among them. (just like Las Vegas: what happens in Las Vegas? Stays in Las Vegas!).

Dean Martin's house in the library Jack and Ludmila in Christmas party

Dean Martin’s Christmas party:  Jack and Ludmila in the library

The party went on, but most of big stars eventually left and as we were leaving (my dear hubby was still with this music biz man talking until we got in the car), two police cars arrived and parked outside Dean Martin’s door. We were parked a little ways away, looking at the show. They asked everyone in the house to leave. Later I heard that Dean had gone upstairs to his bedroom and called the police, so he could get some sleep, I guess it must be nice to be so important!

But now you see that each men that I met gave me something of themselves, and for that, I love them all.

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Halloween at Ludmila`s mansion in Northredge from left to right, Ludmila, Galina, and my niece Vera

Halloween at Ludmila’s house in Northridge

My tremendous appetite for life took me to places– wild adventures, romances, fantasies–that normal people only see in movies. I walked with a cane, smoked a pipe, rode a motorcycle. Later Bianca Jagger started doing this; of course she was very famous with a husband like Mick Jagger. But I was modeling, on my time I refuse to wear corsets  and also a bra on same dresses because it was very uncomfortable, in that time they did not have perfected the C cup,  (which was perfected  on my body, before it went two the world market, they pay me well,  and the picture came about later very discreet in that time we where not sexy, just mannequins,  a example of a lady a MODEL).
The Roughs,  Mission Impossible,  but nothing big enough to  put my face in every household so to speak ( in Spanish they say on every plate).

There were movies about the holocaust then, like Anne Frank’s Diary, that made me remember why William went to Auschwitz?  and send me straight to Frankfurt from Munich. It is so difficult to get rid of him and our memories together. It seems sometimes that they will stay with me forever, because,  even now I can’t stop thinking about the abortions and what might have been. So instead I went to the next party. Lets drink, meet new lovers and have a gay old time! Your would wonder how can she have so many men on her life, but what  I was wondered,  what was happening to me, to my mind and soul, at that time.? I did not know better, it became this is it, and like it.

The side of my Mansion it was more of a hacienda, the Orange grow east side  were at one time a had 300 and same domestic animal, Jack on top of a Nubian goat

The Hacienda in Northridge: Jack clowning around on a Nubian goat in the orange grove. At one time we had more than 300 domestic animals!

Then I met Ben Bennetia: What a wonderful, happy go lucky men, handsome , slim, tall with dark olive skin and big eyelashes that covered his great green eyes. He reminded me of that priest’s eyes!  “Aquellos Ojos verdes “ de mirada serena….. the 2 of us head a happy great time, living  it up, smoking pot and drinking white wine in my room at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood,  where I lived at that time. Once we awoke with the mattress on fire- yes, I did that! The worst part was I didn’t even like pot, but I would do anything to please the man I was with, I just wanted to be loved, which is not a crime- the crime was what I was doing to my soul.

Ben did not want to marry me, although he really loved me, because I was a white-skinned Russian Orthodox and he was dark Sephardic Jew, and he did not think this was good for any children to come. We talked and talked about it ,but he decided to take off hitchhiking all the way to Argentina from Los Angeles with a friend, and was gone for couple of years. So he had to forget about me and our plans– it would be a long time before I would see him again.

New Year at the entrance to the Hacienda Ilona Wilson ( great actress and friend), Ludmila

New Years at the entrance to the Hacienda: Ilona Wilson (a great actress and friend) with Ludmila

A long time passed and life took me to many places, places that I am not proud to describe. I was already married to Jack when one day I met Benn again at a big party, I still could see that love in his eyes’ he did not forget me, he still carried me in his heart, but I was a wife of another man now and he respected that. So we parted ways with a handshake, to never see each other again. Of course, I would love to hear from him again one day, some place, but we never know what the future holds? Life has many surprises for me every day…

After working and playing and drinking more and more, I began using benzedrine to keep weight off. I was drinking and eating so I needed speed, just to lose weight, right? Well, eventually Jack and I became more than lovers. One day he and I decided to get married, and marry we did, on the day the first men walked on the moon! It was not planned that way, but my church had scheduled it for that day, so we married three times: once by civil law, once by my church and once by the church of Scientology (Jack was into it because he had a good friend that was also in it, Stanley Stromfeld). The parties were everywhere, people were celebrating  the first man on the moon said “A small step for a man, but a giant step for mankind” The radio and TV were playing Frank Sinatra’s big hit “Fly me to the Moon“ It was just party party party all the time in 1969.  Work was now taking second place in my life.

Jack bought a great mansion in the Northridge near Busch Haezer beer Gardens,  with three bedrooms, a huge kitchen, formal dining room and living room with a big stone fireplace. It even had an office library room all wood with a fireplace (smaller than the other),  and a window out to the service hall for drinks and snacks. The patio went into an outdoor open fireplace next to a big swimming pool; we even had  a trampoline! All this was very private because it  enclosed with a bamboo wall fence from the back neighbors. On one side of the house was a two car garage and green grass lawn, and on the other side was a big orange grove, with a gate for the truck to get in . We were so very happy there; this was really a beautiful big private place. It was exciting for me, because I never had a home  like this mansion, of my own : a dream come true! Now I was a lady with a mansion, a  long black Cadillac convertible in my garage! All this was mine, but I did not let the fumes go to my head! I was the same Ludmila, all parties, all smiles. I worked on my farm with rabbits, goats, a little bull and Emily, my prize New Hampshire pig. She was so intelligent!

It was a great life,  especially when my mamochka Palina my sister and my dear niece  came and we had a family party.
But slowly and surely in time, my modeling career was being replaced for  more and more  drugs and alcohol.
The parties for every holiday seemed to have no end! I just loved giving parties, enjoying life “to the max,” parties for Halloween, even Easter egg hunts for the children in the neighborhood.
The class of people on my list were movie stars, hippies, bohemians, screenwriters, and businessmen. But I kept my family separate from all but a few special guests. Of course I did not want to mix  my family with the druggies and orgy people, so I went from one extreme to another.
I  simply loved life, some Easter hunts  I had mama with me giving presents and colored eggs to the kids,  all the unhappy memories seemed to vanish at that time.
I guess it was the  physical remoteness of my Father that made me hungry for a human touch, and that gave way to my tremendous appetite for life. This may be? Was what led me to my adventures an unimaginable style life and energy that normal people don’t have.

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From left: Pavlina Vasilevna, Kim Novak, Sydney, Ludmila, Dale Garric

 

Mind you, Wilshire Blvd. is a very busy area around Beverly Hills, so I looked at the car and with a smile gave back the keys to the sales person, and  I said in my broken English, “Please just deliver this car to this address!” and handed them my home address  . They didn’t ask if I had a driver’s license, and just assumed it was a present for somebody else. (I did not volunteer any information and they did not ask!)  The insurance was still in their name since the car was not mine until I finished paying for it. Then I went  home by bus and when I got home it was already there! mamachka was so excited, asking “whose car is that in our garage? These people came I don’t understand what they said but they seemed to know what they were doing. I thought maybe the landlord’s car?”, “No mamachka it is mine– ours!”, “What?” “Yes, ours!” She was so surprised but she said, “Luda go to the garage and open the door,!” and there it was. I was very happy, but then I realized it was a 5 gear manual with a gear shift- how could I get it out? That was a job, but  finally I drove and I only made right turn from the right lane of course, until Daud come to visit us in our new place on Kings Rd. where mama and I lived alone now , (Gala got married and Vera went to a private nuns boarding school in Anaheim), and he showed me how to change gears, and couple of lessons how to turn left from the left lane, and shift smoothly.

Ludmila dancing whit the belly dancer The party in my house

Ludmila dancing whit the belly dancer

Well,  after some lessons and couple of days driving, I felt less nervous. No police stopping me, no accidents, so now I guess I better get a Driver’s License! It had been almost a month since I bought my Renault and I still didn’t  know nada about cars! Going to work in it, I had to learn driving on the freeway, since my teaching modeling classes were at night. In the day I would go for interviews for commercials, television shows,.or movies. Mostly I worked modeling and with the shots with the different photographers I managed  to put together a good portfolio.  With that, I got an interview for Mission Impossible (the original T.V.show with Peter Graves). I got the part in it! What a glorious moment when the call me from Nina’s to tell me I srimet I know I got it, right?  yes,  be at the studio at 6am,,  I jumped up and down like a little girl. There was only one woman in this T.V. series then, Barbara Bain ,  what an honor two worked with than, my part was impressive but very small: they put me in front, at the opening of  the credits of the show, just my face , full screen, pivoting my head throwing my hair back, blown by the air.  It was just an opening credit, that was all, but I could not describe what it meant to me. All my dreams in that old swing in the  Island of Margarita  were coming true: the friends , the car, the house , the photographers taking my pictures, people with real love and real interest in me and now, is only  the real beginning of that  mine  DREAM IN A SWING. So yes, it was a small part, but to me was just the first step to what I thought was a new reality on my life,. What I did not realize was I was still dreaming a fantasy. That show’s plot was something about a model, and I had no speaking part, but   my image was beautiful and very impressive. After that came many more television series and films.

Pelagea Vasilivna and Sydney

Pelagea Vasilivna and Sydney

Thanksgiving was coming up and I was working on a Fashion show with Maria, a 100 percent American girl. She asked me, “Where are you going for Thanksgiving?“ I said I”I don’t know , what is it?” She explained to me that it was a very important holiday to thank God for bringing the Pilgrims to America and for the food they harvested . It was probably the  fourth biggest important Holiday in America, after Christmas , New Year, Easter, then  was Thanksgiving, with pumpkin  pies and things that  we could not  imagine: ham with all different recipes, meat and pork  stews,  mashed potatoes   cranberries, and more pumpkins,. So much  food, and of course lots of drinking too!  Mama and I ,we ate and ate and drank — well, mama didn’t drink a lot maybe couple of glasses of wine. I drank til I could not walk, and that night I paid for it,I was sick to my stomach and gave back the food to the toilet bowl! I was not accustomed to eat so much, but mama was O.K..  The holiday was a little pagan and the masquerade balls  and   Halloween, became part of Thanksgiving. The children’s  games, and the knocks at the doors saying “trick or treat!” all the parades and the big holiday football games, were all new to us!

This was the late 1964s, watching the TV shows like I Spy and  Mission Impossible, you could imagine living in this beautiful home, wrapping presents to take too the children,  with Bud and mama,  to Tijuana. (memories come back to mind of my last holidays with William, now it seems so far away!  Venezuela was already  almost five years ago , and  after five years in America it was already ten years that I have been in a relationship with him especially in Christmas Time!,  I just love December with the twinkling lights and the happy people everybody become so nice and happy. There were many  good memories with my lover William, (I should say fiance) since on my last birthday on Venezuela under the glass of champagne was the most beautiful ring I ever seen like a belt with a buckle of diamants , and after  Christmas,  we went  I remember which was the first time we celebrated New Years together, in the Humboldt Hotel up in the clouds above Caracas, where the cable car went up so high that you could see the other side of the mountain  and the beach at Macuto. The next working day,  we went to the shipping department at the port of Macuto (he had some shipment coming  from U.K.). I was just 16, and his last child was about to be born  any day. After that, he promised  we could make plans for our future, either in England on that gorgeous estate that we went to see on the outskirts of London, it was gorgeous,I believe he said it belong on in time two Churchill,  or on the island of Grenada where he had property. He said it was in my name,  so that I would have something when I got to be 20 years old; it would be my life security, but I must have the abortion  now, he insisted.

How it has been three Christmases ago that we hadn’t celebrated together. Maybe we could celebrate new year together  if I could go to San Francisco?

So it is my fiesta  in my beautiful Beverly Hills home only 2 blocks  off of Wilshire Blvd. and the
Wilshire Hotel 3 Blocks away! I  invited  many famous people (and some not so famous) with plenty of cocaine. I didn’t have to put that much effort into getting coke (now that I think about it, I never paid a penny for any of the drugs They were everywhere , they were  free por me and some of  the models and actors and everyone was using  them openly, it was not like in Caracas it was  not discreet and jash jash  and most of it discreet privacy. Sometimes the coke was just on the table to take as much as you please!  I went to the Hollywood producers and directors parties.   I still had some coke that I got from William and I put it in the medicine cabinet, that is how  stupidly naive I was and of course it  got stolen,! but I did not care.    Richard Dawson arrived at the party with another famous lady, and Daud and his brother and Kim Novak and so many you could not hear a word music , belly dancers etc.. Soon I was dancing a solo, and then I danced with two belly dancers, and then  I danced flamenco, and again I had too much to drink, and soon my head was spinning wuuuu! I  think I had too much  fun in those days.   The next day mama head coffee made , very early and orange juice , I woke up two gave her a kiss and with intention to go back immediately back two bed ,  when we open the door to our surprise, behind the door in the entryway there was a big beautiful Birthday card and a bottle of  ice cold Dom Perignon Champagne from Richard !   said good by two mama and closed the door and read the lovely note,. What a gentleman to think of apologizing for coming to  my party empty handed, because he did not know he was going to a birthday party.  He was just being driven home by one of his leading ladies from the set where they were shooting a film,, and she took him here! How very beautiful of him! I proceeded to open the bottle and thought, how nice it is to drink something really good.  I just love my mama for not saying  anything, not a word, about my  dancing and drinking. That day I did not think about all my obligations or responsibilities, and I honestly don’t remember the rest of the day.!

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Aboard the ship,Farewell to Hawaii. In the background one of the best photographs in Hollywood  "Martin"

Aboard the ship,Farewell to Hawaii. In the background one of the best photographs in Hollywood “Martin”

As I am writing this story of my life, I have had to come face to face with myself. Of course, it is fifty years and a lifetime later. Half a century to become who I finally was meant to be! How sad, you might say, but I know it is not said or too late for me! I only started living seven years ago, when Phil and some other friends convinced me to just sit down and write my story. I had so many excuses! I am not a writer…. I was never educated.. My spelling is not good. But in the end, my survival instinct took over, and God commanded me to just SIT DOWN AND DO IT. I had many thoughts, some uncomfortable. My unquenchable desire to be loved… I have come to see it was really a purely selfish love, which came with two more painful realizations: that was really a fear of not being loved, which was resulting from my weakness of faith! What seemed like promiscuity to others, to me was as natural as breathing the air around me. To make love to 1, 2 or 3 different men– not at the same time of course, but in the same period of life, with all those different men were having the expectations of me two really be love by me, most of them not aware of my goings. Mine was a selfish love that would not share a man with any other woman, no! That was intolerable and unspeakable. But in my mad mind, I wanted everything for myself, and thought nothing of my own infidelity.

My work with Nina Blanchard, next, took me to Hawaii, and of course poor Richard was there at the docks in San Francisco to say goodbye, terrified that he was losing me. I was obviously way past the teaching of Professor Higgins school, but then hadn’t he always said he was too old for me, that I should find a good husband while I was young? He reminded me that Eliza Doolittle did not actually marry the good professor in the play.

Even in Hawaii, film stars were all around us, sometimes shooting along with me for magazine covers and newspaper ads. It was a glorious week that went by incredibly fast; we would work all day and party all night. Finally it was time to go back on the ship, and of course you also would celebrate your departure from Hawaii– what a party! They put leis around our necks, and told us that if you threw them overboard when the ship start moving , they would tell our fortune; if your lei floated back toward the island, or toward the ship you would be back to Hawaii, but if it floated away.. you don’t come back….. Either way, the occasion was good enough to fill our champagne glasses and celebrate some more! I did not need any special occasion to drink, every occasion was good enough to celebrate, usually by drinking a lot.

That last night, the captain and first mate gave a formal dinner, which naturally meant more drinking, dancing and celebrating. The second on command was single and tall and very good looking the Captain was older married and not good looking, so when the second in command invited me to dance I was very flattered because he was supposed to dance only with the old lonesome lady’s, who had no partners I had partners the photographers for the magazine we were working for.. Later that night found me with the handsome second in command up on the deck, kissing and dancing under the stars, then drinking more champagne and going to his cabin–where we became lovers instantly and later very good friends..

Of course it was all over by the time we reached San Francisco, where Richard’s control took over, again like witchcraft (a Spingaly). We went to the “No name Bar” is Sausalito, while he was talking, I remember the pain that he has inflicted on me, I was not yet realizing all the consequences of the drugs, alcohol, abortions, two the full extent, not yet, I was still was living the moment, and not mature etol, and after few drinks again the promises and love for ever came from him repeatedly, my hope went up again now he is divorce starting a business on S.F. Maybe this time, was for real! (Maybe he sensed that things were going out of his control,) So that why the knew promises and to take care of me, which he never did.

He drove me back to Los Angeles, then he took me out shopping for groceries for the apartment, a shopping cart full of all kinds of food, he must seen our fridge. Not very full, How nice of him, my family thought, but then as always he was gone again. And I wanted to survive and smile and be happy.

Back to work in LA, I decided I had to have a car. It barely mattered that I didn’t know how to drive, and had no driver’s license! I just headed to a dealership on Wilshire Boulevard, where they showed me Renault a small two seater, It was tiny, but the price was right. Of course I bought it because it was French… how chic!

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Teaching Gala how to do manicure

Teaching Gala how to do manicure

My  own apartment! I walked into this empty three bedroom place with amazement, There was all the basic furniture, a refrigerator and stove–that’s all I need!    I must call and tell mama and Gala where life has taken me! I am here now,  I live in Hollywood, to be exact in Beverly Hills 3 blocks from Rodeo Drive, 4 blocks from the Wilshire Hotel where many stars stay, near   Beverly Hill Hotel and  Bel Air Hotel.  There are the beautiful people, going for cocktails and to play Tennis and to meet other people.

Outside my door was a newspaper I could barely understand. But I saw an ad, “Models Wanted, so I wrote down the address and there I went! I am in Jocelyn Ryans studios and the receptionist wanted to sell me a modeling course! This  place was more a school than agency  So indignantly I get up and head for the door, when a lady in the far office opened the door and said: “Please wait a minute and do come into my office.” Jocelyn offered me a job as the top teacher for her students!  I needed a job and money so I said  okay, but I never taught before! She said, Your etiquette and manners are perfect, and you walk fantastically!  That is what I want you to teach!”  Later I trained her other teachers.
When I was leaving I had no idea how to go back to my apartment, but  there was another young lady, Cathy, and she said, “Can I give you a lift,?”  The Americans seems so kind and graceful,  simple like children!  She said she was friends with Bob Denver, the star of Gilligan’s Island TV show. On our way she somehow conveyed  to me that she had a date with two brothers for dinner, would I like to go?  I agreed, and that night a white big Lincoln town car, came for me, with Daud  at the wheel and his brother in the back. With my new friend Cathy. Daud  opened the door for me in front and I sat next to him. I soon found he was a Muslim, born in Baghdad. I thought, how romantic! I had read “The Arab” and was fascinated by that novel, where the Arab steals the girl and takes her to the desert to a passionate romance! Daud was very attractive, but a little short and kind of  round,  divorced with  a ten year old son Douglas who was away in school someplace, and he did not see his ex wife.

Daud fell in love with me, but being of two different religions ‘ Baba’  the chief of this group of Hollywood Arabs was okay with him loving me,  but marriage was not a sure thing.  Of course we talked about other Arabs with children born in America and with a very open mind, but marriage was the furthest  thing from my mind at that time.  So we went out, the four of us, again and again. One night we went to a belly dancing cabaret, very sexy, until the wee hours of the night, with lots of champagne for me and Cathy. Daud (in his way he was a very religious man, he read the Quran all the time in his house) did not drink. But his younger brother Ali did, yes, and so we all wound up at their beautiful newly constructed house  in  the Hollywood Hills. There was a large Arabic rug in the floor where were making love! Soon he became almost like my shadow, a good person to have as a friend  very helpful and generous when  a need would arise.

I still had no money to pay the rent, because I hadn’t received my first check yet,  but he helped with the rent, and then he helped me to call my sister and invite her to live with me and  bring mama too! He took me to interviews and to photographers, and was a good person like a Godsend. Every time I was lonesome or wanted to go out, I  just came to one of the  houses that he bought and fixed and resold.  I always knew where the keys where.

Then I worked in a Boutique as a mistress assistant to pin the dresses on the customers and of course I was fired! But I still taught a few times a week and then later in  November when all the family was together, I was teaching almost every day.

Then of course came the one of so many communication with William, when he asked me to go to be with him for few days? Off I ran to Caracas, just like the saying,  just whistle and I’ll be there. William was saying yes I will marry you, but after I sell the business (another promise he was making that he didn’t keep). How stupid but I thought that I really loved him. Then I saw Oscar and told him how I missed him and where I lived now,  and gave him my address ….

You probably wondering,  what was going on in my mind? Did I think I could have as many husbands as I wanted? I read about a place where the woman had a husband for every day!
if I only can explain that to myself?  I  was supposed to be a decent girl who believed in God , Was I alright? Well, no, I don’t think so. I was a sick puppy in a sick world.  I was  already an alcoholic, but of course I did not know of such a sickness. Nobody ever told me that I was drinking too much, and I had no parents smart or rich enough to send me to a psychiatrist.  I never thought that there was something wrong with me, I was just living life, the way it came, moving with the breeze like a feather, with no rhyme or reason, only enjoying it day by day.
I honestly enjoyed my  life back then, just like always, creating my own reality, but the fantasies and dreams were soon evaporating like water on the sand.

I was worn down, so I went to a doctor for Benzedrine so I wouldn’t eat . I thought I was heavy and wanted to lose a miserable five pounds. No one  ever told me that I was not going on the right direction…..
Now I had some modeling jobs. One of them was with Johnny Mathis, as the announcer to a big party in Bel Air. When he introduced me he said something like,  “I present to you Ludmila,  the top High Fashion Model of Hollywood!”

I start going to beauty salons, one of  the very famous Paganos,  which was later sold to  John Peters, the boy friend of Barbra Streisand. Soon an idea came to me – why not tell my sister to  become a manicurist; after all she had that beauty salon on Porlamar? So I did, and we started practicing at home. Then she had to get a cosmetology license to work at Paganos  where I had introduced her.

So  away we went to the city hall to the board of cosmetology !  She  would   not go unless I took the exam with her! Okay, we did the paperwork and took the exam and of course we flunked! So the person in charge said you can stay and do it again, you have  another chance.

We ended up three in the room, after everybody left including the examiner. But when she checked the paper she had put a cardboard template with holes on it, that told her which answers were correct. So, very smart of me I said to  Gala, you look at the door  to warn us if the lady is coming. I will get that paper and mark our exams and also for this little Italian guy that wanted to work as a beautician. So we sent back after I had copied all the correct answers for all 3 of us, and guess what? We passed!

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Me and Walter at the cabaret show

Me and William at the cabaret show

Just a few days latter, we were in a hotel making love, when William started smoking something that didn’t smell like regular tobacco. He offered some to me, I didn’t like it, because it made me feel stupid and dull.  He just watched me with curiosity. Then he said, “This hotel is not for us, how about moving to the nice apartment with me?”

So I moved again, for the same reason. I did not know at the time that his wife was either in Europe or New York every time we were living together. The new place was small but very cozy, with big windows and and the view of the city. I loved the twinkling lights, may be because that was the only present I`d know for the long time, Christmas lights were always on in December, so it seemed to me they were to celebrate my birthday, the town lip up especially for me.

William told me “Dress up tomorrow, we will celebrate your cumpleanos! I`ll pick up you at 8 pm after I close the liquor store.” I innocently asked, “Where we are going?” He  said it was a surprise, and that night we arrived at La Belle Epoque, en elegant French restaurant. We sat at the bar for the cocktail, when they showed us the most beautiful semi-private room with candles on the table and a bottle of champagne. William said, after pouring some champagne, in to my crystal goblet, “Happy birthday, chuchi!” (I call him puchi, he call me chuchi.)  “hope have you many more!” As I raised a goblet, there under the cap was gold bracelet with with morocotas of 5 Bolivares, solid 18 carats! The whole atmosphere was so charming and romantic, with violins playing, and then the waiters came with the dinner course and every one said “Happy birthday!”  Then of course came big birthday cake with cognac and candles  and they were singing happy birthday to me. It was truly and magic night, this was the first time of my whole life that I had had a celebration for my birthday, and I was flying! “We`ll go home for the moment, I need more cigarettes,” he said, “Esta bien I said”

We were home and there were flowers on the table and small glass container or flask of the white powder. William served me a scotch and a soda and helped himself, we sat down at the table, then he took the little flask and with a tinny little spoon that was in his pocket, dabbed in it and inhaled some of the stuff, saying “Remember we spoke about cocaine? Well, this is it, just to pep you up, no harm, you`ll see! Like this, would you like to try it?” Of course I did, but nothing out of this world happened like with that other stuff. So we went back out to dance, going to the most exotic private cabarets and nightclubs and in one of them, we sit up in kind of private balcony, so we could sniff some more of that magic powder!!!!!

We danced until the early morning, and then went to the Tamanaco Hotel, where all the party people went to sleep before sunrise…. Or some of us go to worked……….

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Anatolie, Galina and Ludmila

Anatolie, Galina and Ludmila

 

Before our 6th grade graduation, we had a lovely Spiritual Exercise, except I was the only non Roman Catholic (I am Orthodox, not Roman church). After the service, Father Ignacio de Loyola gave us a beautiful talk and told us that if we had a problem, we should write it on a piece of paper and put it in the box. I need help, for him to explain me that, because my Church does not believe that the Pope of Rome is our representative here on earth; the other girls called him “Su Santidad” and said I would go to hell. Well, in my Church there are no living Saints!
After all the girls went to bed, I was summoned to Mother Superior’s Office. I had never been there before. It was a large wood-paneled room. Father Ignacio who was from the missions of Ahmedabad in India, walked towards me and greeted me in my language, saying “God be merciful!” After we repeat that blessing 3 times, we talked. I just loved him; he made so much sense and radiated kindness, and gentleness, besides being handsome! In fact, all the girls were whispering about him at the church and in the hall, disrespecting the silence of our Spiritual exercises. He was very nice to me and helped me understand the differences in all religions.
Saying goodbye to the school was sad, but there was so much that I wanted to do now that I was growing up. What would I be? I didn’t understand that I was not educated to do anything, except pray, read and get married someday.

My sister was invited to an opening of the first great hotel on the Island, a Sheraton at Porlamar beach just a new steps from where we lived. Anatoly had come to the worksite to operate heavy machinery and make good money, but actually he came to visit us, especially mama; he brought her a beautiful diamond. Papa was there too, so the whole family was together, even Valery who Galina was in the process of divorcing.

Fedor was taking a bathtub washing himself, when he called mama in to wash his back. I went to bring soap and to my horror saw that he had a concealed knife under his armpit. I felt it was a dangerous situation and screamed for Gala, but then mama went in unaware and started washing his back. Just as he was about to pull the knife from under his arm, we rushed in and took the knife away from him. He smelled heavily of the alcohol, and had accidentally scarred my wrist when we grabbed the knife out of his hands.

This was just days before the grand opening of the Sheraton, but luckily papa left almost immediately, embarrassed by his behavior, so we all had time to cool off before the big event.
I did not yet realize that alcohol is a devil that makes people do crazy, bad things; for me it was just more Hollywood drama at my door. When the happy day arrived, mamachka did not want to go, but Anatoly was dressed to kill in a black tuxedo suit, I never seen him dress up like this, and Galina was in a black velvet dress with a tiny tiny waist. I was in a pale rose encaje dress, with white shoes and gloves! Wheee!
I felt like a Hollywood star, we sat with the cream of the cream, big shots from the Island and from Caracas all came for this great event.
Of course, Isla Margarita was really only a fisherman’s Island, laid back and peaceful, so this was the first real ball, with the pool and garden all lit up with special dancing lights, and the palm trees seeming to sway with the rhythm of the bossanova music- slow music but with a romantic, sexy beat that matched the gentle waves of the Caribbean. I saw the reflection of the moon glittering on the water, and felt the breeze caressing my body.  I‘m afraid I can’t do justice to the scene with my descriptions: I felt so so good and happy, just to breathe and be alive in this magic moment that I wanted to last forever. (As I’m writing I felt again for a second that incredible moment!).
I went everywhere in the hotel after dinner, while my brother and Galina were sitting drinking their fancy drinks in all different colors, (of course my brother was always drinking vodka mixes).                          Walking around, I found the elevator. I’d never been in one, so of course I went in to try it and pressed all the buttons. Then I saw strong white hands with long fingers, stopping the doors that were almost closed, and in walked a handsome slender blond man. I looked up at his beautiful blue eyes staring at me, fascinating and paralyzing me; he was so tall and good looking! He asked in English, in a velvety voice, “What floor are you going to, young lady?”  Since I did not understand a word at the time, I looked up into those big eyes and then read the name on his lapel tag: “Juan Carlos Blake.”  Seeing me tremble, he just smiled, looked at the elevator controls and did not say a word. He smelled so good, and at that moment my dream of the Hollywood movies seemed complete. I wished that moment would last forever: stop the world and let me off, I have arrived!

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At the school

I am 14 years in 5 grade

Sometimes we had movies at school, and I began to get ideas of love and romance. I especially remember a very famous Spanish actor, Jorge Mistral, who had a deep sexy voice and a build like Victor Mature. Years later I actually met him, and years after that I learned he had killed himself because he could not live with what drugs and alcohol were doing to him.

On my free days I would spend time with mother at her work, and it was there I met the richest woman on the island, Anna, a beauty from Argentinian society who had married a wealthy Lebanese man named Abuhamad. He was fat and unattractive, but rich- he owned all of the fishermen’s’ concessions, and owned all the pearl divers. These men would dive almost naked into the sea and bring up oysters; we lived almost next door to the fishermen’s’ colony and they would let me open some oysters and keep any pearl I might find. So I had lots of pearls, but I had no idea of their value- they were just toys to me!

One day two priests came to visit the wealthy Anna at her house, while her husband was away in Lebanon.  I was visiting with her two little boys (playing house or “doctor and nurse” as the game was called). I loved playing hostess, making sandwiches and babysitting the boys, but I loved going the beach even more. The younger priest followed me into the waves, dragged me under the water and kissed me where no one could see. It felt nice and I liked it, but I got out of the water and ran back to the kids. I took them back to the house, where Anna was playing piano and singing a popular song, “Aquellos Ojos Verdes,” (Those Green Eyes) he had green eyes…. I still love that song and think of that first kiss, not as something bad or immoral, but as a sweet and gentle experience. Later I would get many more kisses, of course, but none as mysterious, beautiful, and exciting as that first kiss underwater from Father Heredia.

I loved my time at the boarding school living in the dorm. One day Dr. Rossi, an Italian skin specialist, and we girls all talked about how handsome he was. Not far from our island in paradise was a leper colony, and they had this beautiful doctor checking us (naked!) for any signs of leprosy on our skin. They would weigh us and measure our height in the next room. This time, however, Dr. Rossi did not make me get naked all the way. Instead, he asked me to follow him into the next room, and next thing I knew I was against the wall with him kissing me! I melted in his arms, and now I thought to myself, “Wheee,  I’m in love with two men!” i, that kiss  seemed like an eternity of passionate kissing, he gently let me loose and asked me where I had learned to kiss. Thinking fast, I replied, “In the movies,” and did not mention the priest.

One holiday vacation we all went to the handsome Dr. Enrico Rossi’s house, where he lived with a beautiful mulatta girlfriend with green eyes, long black azabache hair… I was struck by her appearance but I knew this was not for me; I might dream of the doctor and the priest, but I knew that life would not stop here I have things to do. Life is so so very young.
They were drinking, serving up exciting cocktails,  scotch, vodka, wine, and without hesitating I had one  and another I think I test them all, not the beer, somehow I thought it was  a vulgar  drink, that was only for street man and fishermen, they drink beer. This was pure and unadulterated fun, I thought; I didn’t feel anything special from the effect of the alcohol. I busy enjoying their company too notes the effect and nobody said anything about a teenager drinking.

My sister Gala had friends Arturo and Marlye, the one who brought me books and taught me to love reading and writing poems. Nobody in my home wanted to hear about my poetry, of course,  so I would go to the beach, which had a had a pier, where I would read poetry by myself, and then with tear throw the paper to see so the waves will take them away, where the mermaids  will read than. I dream……….
We left Marley’s house in Arturo’s car and went to the other side of the island, where we could swim in the open sea, which was warm even at night with the full moon. I remember the glistening of lights, they were like the tiny Christmas lights, all over our bodies, who what a show! They move as we swim on our skins, (murcielagas del mar they were called).
Our pearl island was indescribably magical, a setting better than any Hollywood film……….
My young life seemed full of excitement, adventure, mystery and romance!

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