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’s Children

While we were still in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, I was having loads of fun with Buck. Finally Ruth had gone back to L.A. Of course she told her son about my promiscuous behavior. Jack kept calling and asking, “When are your coming back home?” But there was always another party to go to. I decided one last night out at the big disco in Acapulco. I loved the balloons at midnight, the confetti and serpentinas (streamers); it was 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, “Let’s sit down at our table.” Finally I told Buck “Let’s go home.” But everybody came along with us, thinking that as usual I was just taking the party someplace else. I don’t 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.

I was awakened by hands groping me and this young beautiful girl kissing me all over! 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 these long beautiful stairs that went around above the living room to reach the bar, where Buck, Rudy, Anna, Ron and everybody else was standing. 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 a 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 in the home. I could not take them with me because there were too many things to pack, so I left them behind. I was too hungover to worry about packing more or think about anything. My head was pounding and I heard the sound of a voice: “It’s time to go home. I stayed too long at this party, it’s over.” It’s time for Jack to put me over his shoulder and take me home I thought. But he wasn’t 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 grandfather’s 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– 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. 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 other. I learned that Diane burned all my things and all my pictures and he 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 has a beautiful home with wide open spaces, a Mexican baroque style with a tile pool, palm trees, and separate quarter for the servants. They also did not like me because they were faithful to his wife Diane, who took him the cleaners leaving him with no balls! I guessed that was why all his friends loved me, because they said I restored him to manhood by “giving him back his balls.” Looking back, that was where I should have burned one bridge and chosen the other, but that’s the challenge. When we are in the moment, we don’t always know which bridge to burn and which to cross.

This was only a part of going down the torturous road of alcoholism. I should have quit then. But I didn’t. I was too obliterated and drunk to car. 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.


Read Full Post »

Some people will recognize this was the behavior of an alcoholic, and yes, that is true. However, I don’t blame any one person or event; yes, I was an alcoholic and I have been proudly sober for many years now. My life has changed completely, and I give all credit to my Creator whom I choose to call God, my persistent dedication to recovery, and the loving help of others who may have similar stories. I don’t know anyone’s reason for drinking, nor will I pretend to analyze anyone else. I only can say that 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

When I arrived 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 a 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. Reni had brought her and his entourage to LA because UCLA had the very best doctors and facilities at that time.

I found that my dear friends were here but poor Rona was paralyzed. The very next day they were celebrating her sister 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 yet another fantastic party in Westwood near the UCLA medical center. There were movie stars and socialites, most of them from Venezuela. It was a full house. We went in to say hello to everyone and then, needless to say I headed straight to the bar. In front of me, behind the bar, playing around with the bartender, was a 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. Then finally I was near him again, and he came out from behind the bar and put his arms around me. We said hello with the most passionate kiss in front of everyone! Not just a friendly beso (kiss) on the cheek, as is customary in Venezuela or Spain. And his name was Jose!

We were talking all night, dancing, and laughing, while 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 into our big ranch house. I fell in love with this young man. We would bicycle, ride horseback, and 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. In 1974 our lives proceeded to become one big party at our beautiful very comfortable ranch home in Northridge.

Read Full Post »

Filming a movie, “ready for your closeup!”

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. To me they are worth solid gold and pure Fort Knox!

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

The house of Paul Newman was full of stars, like Ali McGraw, but also hippies, motorcycle riders, and other types. Later on there was a big fight, I can’t recall if I provoked it or not. My sister was singing Russian songs with the pianist, when I ran into the room grabbed her by the hand and said, “Let’s get out of here!” Bottles were flying overhead, drunk and high people were screaming, and we just ran out until we reached where the taxis were. We were laughing and bewildered! I lost a beautiful brooch that Walter had given me during that mad dash. I didn’t know where we were in the Hollywood Hills. That was the craziest experience I had at a house of the rich and famous. I had met Ben Gazzara and we had a couple of encounters, he loved “poppers” which were very common at the 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. There was Lucille Ball, Shirley MacLaine and many big names– they were all there, but especially Rex Harrison. I was fascinated by him, looked him up and down in his dark blue tuxedo with velvet sandal slippers. Of course I had seen him in “My Fair Lady” in London with Walter, so memories creeped back into my head. But I was amazed to meet him, flabbergasted, almost speechless that there was a man I dreamed of meeting years ago right in front of me, talking to me!  He saw me look at his feet, as I was surprised by the dark blue slippers that he was wearing, and he 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, I listened to him say “I can always be well-dressed but can’t tolerate being uncomfortable on my feet!” He proceeded very elegantly to ask where I could be reached. Of course, I was always prepared and had a little gold pen, yet another present from Walter, and a little notebook. This was part of my work, since I never knew when I might meet someone that could give me a job; that was all part of show business. I gave him my number. He was incredibly charming and well mannered, and I loved that immensely.

Of course it looked like I was there alone; no one realized that I was married and my husband wasn’t with me. Jack was off in the Martin library reading, then trying to wheel and deal with some gentleman I did not recognize; 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 knew because that is what I drank. I just 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 whiskey over 3 cubes of ice with just a splash of soda!” Dean loved it, and we became friends. People at the party smoked pot openly. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and thought aren’t they worried about being seen?  Later I learned that in Hollywood stars homes, what goes on among them, stays among them. Just like they say in Las Vegas: what happens in Vegas, stays in 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 the big stars had left. As we were leaving, my dear hubby still with the music businessman 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.

Each man that I met in my life gave me something of themselves, and for that, I love them all.

Read Full Post »

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 many places– wild adventures, romances, fantasies– places that most 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. As a model I refused to wear corsets or a bra with some dresses because it was very uncomfortable. In that time they had not perfected the C cup, but it was perfected on my body before it went to the world market. They paid me well and the picture came out later very discreetly. In that time we were not about being sexy, we were just mannequins and a model was an example of a lady. I appeared in The Roughs, and Mission Impossible, but nothing big enough to put my face in every household.

There were movies about the holocaust then, like Anne Frank’s Diary, that made me remember why Walter went to Auschwitz and sent me straight to Frankfurt from Munich. It is 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. To drown out the memories I continued to the next party. I was always ready to drink, meet new lovers and have a gay old time! You might wonder how can she have so many men in her life? The thing I wondered was: What was happening to me, to my mind, and soul, at that time? I simply did not know another way of life, this was it, and I liked 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, a wonderful, happy go lucky man. He was handsome, slim, tall with dark olive skin, and big eyelashes that covered his great green eyes. He reminded me of the priest’s eyes from “Aquellos Ojos Verdes” de mirada serena (serene look). The two of us had a great time together, 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 a dark Sephardic Jew. He did not think it was a good idea for any children that would 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 a couple of years. He had to forget about me and our plans and 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

Time passed and life took me to many places, some that I am not proud to describe. I was already married to Jack when one day I met Ben again at a big party. I still could see that love in his eyes, and I knew he did not forget me, he still carried me in his heart. But I was the 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. We never know what the future holds. Life has many surprises for us every day.

After working, playing, and drinking more and more, I began using benzedrine to keep weight off. I was drinking and eating so I needed speed to lose weight. Eventually Jack and I became more than lovers. One day he and I decided to get married. And so we did, on the same 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 his good friend, Stanley Stromfeld, was also in it. Parties were everywhere with people celebrating for Neil Armstrong on the moon who said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The radio and TV were playing Frank Sinatra’s big hit “Fly me to the Moon“. It was just party central 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 that was all wood with a smaller fireplace, and a window out to the service hall for drinks and snacks. The patio led to an outdoor open fireplace next to a big swimming pool; we even had a trampoline. All this was very private because it was 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 happy there, it was really a beautiful big private place. And 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, and 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 and 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 wonderful life, especially when my mamachka 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 drugs and alcohol. The parties for every holiday seemed to have no end. I loved hosting parties, enjoying life “to the max,” with parties for Halloween, even Easter egg hunts for the children in the neighborhood. The class of people on my list included movie stars, hippies, bohemians, screenwriters, and businessmen. But I kept my family separate from all but a few special guests. I wouldn’t dare mix my family with the druggies and orgy people, so I bounced back from one extreme to the other. Regardless, I simply loved my life. Some Easter hunts I had mama with me giving presents and colored eggs to the kids. All the unhappy memories seemed to vanish from me at that time. I suppose it had been the physical remoteness of my father that made me hungry for the human touch, and gave way to my tremendous appetite for life. Maybe this was what led me to my adventures, imaginative life style and vivacious energy that others didn’t seem to have.

Read Full Post »

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 the keys back to the sales person. 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! Mama 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?” I replied, “No mamachka, it is mine– ours!” “What?!” she screamed. “Yes, ours!” She was so surprised and she said, “Luda go to the garage and open the door!” There it was. I was very happy, but then I realized it was a five gear manual with a shifter– how could I get it out? That was a job! But finally I drove it, only making right turns from the right lane until Daud come to visit us in our new place on Kings Road where mama and I lived alone now. Gala got remarried and Vera chose to attend a private nuns boarding school in Anaheim. He showed me how to change gears, and gave me a couple of lessons on how to turn left from the left lane, and shift smoothly.

Ludmila dancing whit the belly dancer The party in my house

Ludmila dancing with the belly dancer

After some lessons and a couple of days driving, I felt less nervous. No police stopped me, there were no accidents, now it was just time to 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 learned to drive on the freeway. I taught modeling classes at night and 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. What a glorious moment when the call came from Nina to tell me I got the part! She said to “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. It was an honor to work with them. 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 love and interest in me, now was only the beginning of those dreams in a swing coming true. So yes, it was a small part, but to me it was the first step toward what I thought was a new reality for my life. What I did not realize was I was still dreaming a fantasy. In the show I had no speaking part, but my image was beautiful and impressive. After that came many more jobs in 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 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 foods that we could not  imagine: ham with all different recipes, meat and pork stews, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pies, and more. So much food, and of course lots of drinking too. Mama and I ate and ate and drank– well, mama didn’t drink a lot, maybe just a couple of glasses of wine. I drank until 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 alright.  The holiday Halloween on the other hand was a little pagan, with masquerade balls. The children’s games, knocks at the doors saying “trick or treat!”, the parades, and big football games were all new to us.

This was late 1964, watching the TV shows like I Spy and  Mission Impossible. We lived in a beautiful home, and wrapped presents to take to the children with Bud and mama, to Tijuana. Memories came flooding back to mind of my last holidays with Walter, now it seemed so far away. Venezuela was already almost five years ago, and  ]after five years in America it was already ten years that I had been in a relationship with him, especially in Christmas time.  I always loved December with the twinkling lights and the joyful people. Everybody becomes so nice and happy. There were many good memories with my lover Walter. I could actually say fiance, since on my last birthday in Venezuela under the glass of champagne was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen, like a belt with a buckle of diamonds. I remember 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 the U.K. I was just 16 then, 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, I believe he said it had belonged to Churchill, or on the island of Grenada where he had property. He said the property would be 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 an abortion  now, he insisted. How had it been three Christmases that we hadn’t celebrated together? I thought maybe we could celebrate New Year’s together if I could go to San Francisco.

But now was my birthday fiesta in my beautiful Beverly Hills home only two blocks off of Wilshire Blvd with the Wilshire Hotel three 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. In fact, I never paid a penny for any of the drugs. They were everywhere. They were free for me and some of the models and actors used them openly. It was not like in Caracas, it was not done discreetly. Sometimes the coke was just out on the table to take as much as you liked. I went to many Hollywood producers and directors parties. I still had some coke that I got from Walter and I put it in the medicine cabinet. That is how stupidly naive I was, so of course it got stolen, but I didn’t care. Richard Dawson arrived at the party with a famous lady, and Daud with his brother, Kim Novak and so many others you could not hear a word. There was music and belly dancers, and soon I was dancing solo, even flamenco. Again, I had too much to drink and soon my head was spinning. I had what I thought was so much fun in those days. The next day mama made me coffee very early, with some orange juice. I woke up just to give her a kiss and go back immediately to bed. At that time a delivery came and when we opened the door, to our surprise, in the entryway was a big beautiful birthday card and a bottle of ice cold Dom Perignon champagne from Richard Dawson. I said goodbye to mama and closed the door to read the lovely note. I thought, “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 brought him here. 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 my obligations or responsibilities, and I honestly don’t remember the rest of the day.

Read Full Post »

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 photographers 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. It took half a century to become who I finally was meant to be. How sad, you might say, but I know it is not sad or too late for me, although it feels 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 that were uncomfortable. My unquenchable desire to be loved, I have come to realize was a purely selfish love. More painful realizations: my fear of not being loved was a result of my weakness of faith. What seemed like promiscuity, to me was as natural as breathing the air around me. To make love to one, two, or three different men– not at the same time of course–but in the same period of life, each with expectations of me, to really be loved by me, while most of them were unaware of my goingson. In my mad mind I wanted everything for myself, and thought nothing of my own infidelity.

My work with Nina Blanchard, took me to Hawaii next, and of course Walter 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 always 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 worked all day and partied all night. Finally it was time to go back on the ship, and of course we celebrated our departure from Hawaii as well– what a party! They put leis around our necks, and told us that if you threw them overboard when the ship starts 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 won’t come back. Either way, the occasion was good enough to fill our champagne glasses and celebrate more! Although, I didn’t need any special occasion to drink. In fact, 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 ladies who had no partners. But I had partners, like the photographers for the magazine we were working for. Later that night, I was 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. We became lovers instantly and later very good friends.

Of course it was all over by the time we reached San Francisco, where Walter’s influence took over again, like witchcraft, a Svengali. We went to the “No name Bar” is Sausalito. While he was talking, a wave of  remembrance of all the pain that he had inflicted crashed over me. I was not even realizing all the consequences of the drugs, alcohol, and abortions, to the full extent, not yet. I was still living in the moment, and not mature. Of course after a few drinks, again the promises to love forever came from him, along with my hope after his divorce, and starting a business in San Francisco. Maybe this time, was for real! I thought maybe he sensed that things were going out of his control and that was why he kept promising to be me, which he never did.

He drove me back to Los Angeles, then he took me out shopping for groceries for the apartment. He filled the shopping cart full of all kinds of food. He must have seen that our fridge was not very full. How kind of him, my family thought, but then as always, he was gone again. And I was left to survive, smile through the heartache, and be happy.

Returning to work in LA, I thought it best to have a car. It was no matter 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 a Renault, small two seater. It was tiny, but the price was right. Of course I bought it because it was French and chic!

Read Full Post »

Teaching Gala how to do manicure

Teaching Gala how to do manicure

I had my very own apartment! I was astonished walking into this three bedroom place, with all the basic furniture, a refrigerator and stove. It was all I needed! I just had to call and tell mama and Gala the good news, where life had taken me! Here now, living in Hollywood, in Beverly Hills, three blocks from Rodeo Drive, four blocks from the Wilshire Hotel where many stars stay, near Beverly Hills Hotel and Bel Air Hotel. There were gorgeous people around, going for cocktails, shopping, playing tennis, and meeting other beautiful people.

Outside my apartment was a newspaper. Although I could barely understand anything, I saw an ad for “Models Wanted”. I wrote down the address and off I went! I walked into Jocelyn Ryans studios and the receptionist wanted to sell me a modeling course. The place was more like a school than an agency. I said, “I don’t need a course, I’m here to model.” So indignantly I got up and headed for the door to exit, when a lady in the far office stepped out and said: “Please wait a minute and do come into my office.” Jocelyn offered me a job, and I became the top teacher for her students. At the time, 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.”  I trained her clients and other teachers as my first job in Hollywood.

When I left, I had no idea how to get back to my apartment, but there was another young lady, Cathy, and she said, “Can I give you a lift?”  The Americans seemed 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, and asked if I 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 out 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 complicated things. ‘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. There was lots of champagne for me and Cathy. Daud, being a very religious man, read the Quran all the time in his house and did not drink. But his younger brother Ali did. We all wound up at their beautiful newly constructed house in the Hollywood Hills. There was a large Arabic rug on the floor where we made love. Soon he became almost like my shadow, a good person to have as a friend. He was very helpful and generous when a need would arise.

I still had no money to pay the rent for my apartment, because I hadn’t received my first check yet, but Daud helped, 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. He felt like a Godsend. Every time I was lonesome or wanted to go out I could go to one of the houses that he had bought, fixed and prepared to resell. I always knew where the keys were.

I worked a very short time in a boutique as a mistress assistant to pin the dresses on the customers, and of course I was fired. At first I only taught a few times a week at the modeling agency, but by November when all the family was together, I was teaching almost every day.

Of course I had kept communication with Walter, who asked me to come be with him for a few days. So off I flew to Caracas! Like the saying, just whistle and I’ll be there. Walter would say, “Yes, I will marry you, but after I sell the business.” It was just another promise he would make and never keep but in my naive spirit I would hold onto the hope that it would one day come true. How stupid I was to believe him, but I thought that I really loved him. Then I saw Oscar, told him how I missed him, where I lived, and gave him my address.

You are 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 a woman had a husband for every day! Can I even explain that to myself? I was supposed to be a decent girl who believed in God. Was there something wrong with me? 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 get help.  I never thought that there was something wrong with me. I thought 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 from the sand. I was getting worn down. 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 in 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 started going to beauty salons, one of the very famous Paganos, which was later sold to John Peters, the boyfriend 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 introduced her.

We went to the city hall to the board of cosmetology.  She wouldn’t go unless I took the exam with her. We did the paperwork and took the exam, but of course we flunked! So the person in charge said, “You can stay and do it again, you have another chance.”

We ended up with three in the room, after everybody left including the examiner.  With the exams there was a cardboard template with holes on it, that had the correct answers.  So, intelligent me 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 I helped this little Italian guy that wanted to work as a beautician. So we sat back after I had copied all the correct answers for the three of us, and guess what? We passed!

Read Full Post »

Me and Walter at the cabaret show

Me and Walter at the cabaret show

Just a few days later, we were in a hotel making love, when Walter started smoking something that didn’t smell like regular tobacco. He offered some to me, but 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 a view of the city. I loved the twinkling lights, maybe because that was the present I had known for a long time. Christmas lights in December always seemed to me that they were to celebrate my birthday, the town lit up especially for me!

Walter told me, “Dress up tomorrow, we will celebrate your cumpleaños! I’ll pick you up at 8pm after I close the liquor store.” I innocently asked, “Where we are going?” He replied, “It’s a surprise.” That night we arrived at La Belle Epoque, en elegant French restaurant. We sat at the bar for the cocktails, then they showed us to the most beautiful semi-private room with candles on the table and a bottle of champagne. Walter said, after pouring some champagne into my crystal goblet, “Happy birthday, chuchi!” (I called him puchi, he called me chuchi.) “Hope you have many more!” As I raised my goblet, there under the cap was a gold bracelet with morocotas (gold coins) of 5 Bolivares, a solid 18 carats. The whole atmosphere was perfectly charming and romantic, with violins playing, an incredible dinner course, and all the staff saying “Happy Birthday!” Then of course arrived the big birthday cake with cognac and candles and everyone singing happy birthday to me. It truly felt like a magic night as it was the first time in my whole life that I 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.

When we arrived home there were flowers on the table and in a small glass container there was a white powder. Walter served me a scotch and soda and helped himself. We sat down at the table, then he took the small container and with a tiny little spoon that was in his pocket, dabbed it in the powder and inhaled, 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?” So I did, but nothing out of this world happened like with the other stuff I smoked. So we went back out to dance, going to the most exotic private cabarets and nightclubs. In one of them, we sat up in a 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 to work.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »