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Archive for the ‘Ballet’ Category

Exposure in Carcas Country Club

Exposure in Carcas Country Club

 

Now I was working with all these incredible people at Canal 5- Casica Maria Luisa, and especially the Show de Renni. His wife was Renne, his first daughter was Ronna, and the last one would have been Ranna expect that in Spanish that means “frook.” Being on the Show de Renni” was very good for me, it was the most successful program in Venezuela, with celebrity guests from Hollywood. I loved being on his list of friends and working with him; I met so many famous people, like Pedro Infante, with whom I danced at a party.

I had lost my virginity to the biggest con artist I will ever meet; it was not enjoyable, in fact unpleasant, and to top it off he left me waiting in his condo while he was in another town getting married! What a dog! This was humiliating and painful to say the least, so I did not tell my sister or my mother, much less my father. I did not anyone to see my pain, so I only told Marley, the lady who had taught me to read and love books. She was very understanding and sweet- if she had not come into my life, I would never have started writing poems and learning how to find the passion in my life. My sister and my mama did not have time for me, my sister thought they were immoral and my mama was always working.

Still, more invitations came to me every day, and I was still young and hopeful, so I said to myself,!” NO ME LA PIERDO” ! ( I will not miss this one!). And now, at Christmas, I had a chance to get on board the the biggest yacht in Venezuela and to go out to a most infamous private island , belonging to none other than the great dictator, General Marcos Perez Jimenez! happy memories come back to my mind the love for islands (Porlamar) , the trip was so interesting and exciting. We left the very next day, in the afternoon, watching the sunset from the yacht. We embarked on Christmas Holidays 1956, heading somewhere out near the Islas de la Tortugas, and sailing along with his four Alicanes representing the heads of the four armed forces: the navy, army, air force and marines, they were his bodyguards, he was never alone or unprotected, I did not realize this at that time.

On board, the general himself was playing dominos with his male guests, prime ministers and other elite types. Soon I had drunk to much and I had to rush over to the side, there to lose my exquisite dinner and cocktails to the sea! Even today, I still tend to overdo everything!, I was bent over the side being sick, when I felt a strong cool hand on my forehead, and turned and saw the most handsome of the four alicanes, in white uniform, very tall with azabache black hair. All I could think was, it was no fun having this gorgeous man see me vomiting! I would prefer dancing with him to that romantic music that the live orchestra was playing– I will never forget the song, Bahia terra del… ah memories!.

We arrived at the island without any further adventures, although one of the kind ministers in particular acted like he cared for me (in a fatherly way, escorted me to my guartes, good night.) Nest morning, after breakfast, I went up to help the girls to decorate the big Christmas tree, and then went down to the beach to watch the men racing their speed boats lanchas,. It seemed the General’s favorite thing besides women was racing speedboats, and guess what? I was invited to go with him on his lancha! I don’t remember too much, to tell the truth, because I was petrified, but I do know that he won that race (as always). I think the same kind man (I wish I remembered his name) took me in his arms out of the boat. After a siesta came dinner. I imagine everyone had one of those Cuban rumberas, singers, dancers, on their rooms? not mien . . Dinner was formal, dancing music and than a show, It was the most fantastique rumba, mambo, Brazilian, singing, dancer’ s show, right in front of us, live orchestra and all with the moon full and that tropical breeze, if you never been on the tropical night , you have not experience the most sensual breeze, then you don’t know what you have mis.

This island was the talk of Venezuela and the whole world news , infamous for the scandals and orgies, but I did not see anything out of this world. Still, I was only 16 years old and it was an inolvidable (unforgettable) experience– what a life!

Finally it was time to go back to Macuto, after four days of a feast of everything fun games , dinners that almost went all night with shows and lots of game and fun, for all of us, but especially for man, the few young ladies and women were just like a filler, providing ambience for the trip, so the press would say look they have the whole family, it look very decent and farmles.. Buy now, it was time quit the Canal 5 ballerina show on the government channel that had given me the first of so many opportunities in my life. I was on deemed as a High Fashion model and ballerina. .

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Polo Field in Caracas, with Oscar Urreiztietta.

Polo Field in Caracas, with Oscar Urreiztietta.

Walking home one evening from the house of the Cacique Maria Luisa Escobar, I stopped for an ice cream with an Italian friend, and in walks in Juan Carlos Blaky My heart just fell to the floor at his feet. Juan Carlos was the same man in the elevator of the hotel at Porlamar years earlier. I had been sending anonymous notes to him, asking to meet him at the movie theatre, but I was shy and lied to him about what I would be wearing. He would look for me but I never seemed to be there. But now noticed me everywhere in town, it turned out, and he confessed to me that he had always suspected I was the one who sent those notes. He was intrigued by this little mocosa as he called me, and soon we were dating– going to movies, holding hands and kissing, just a like a dream come true.

One evening, after my midday show with Renny Ottolina, he was telling me after dinner how happy and lucky we were to have each other. He was going to Porlamar for a week on business, he said, but when he got back we wanted to talk to me seriously. At the time I had a very busy social life, as an actress, as a model, and how as a ballerina on my own television show! Part of my work involved being Miss Seagrams VO, where I would to to private clubs and liquor stores to promote the firm’s products and demonstrate how to make cocktails. I actually became very knowledgable about mixing drinks, to the point that they sent me to the most competitive liquor store, owned by William. He marketed his own line of beverages, from Dundee Scotch to Beefeater gin,but I was instructed to put our product on display and promote them aggressively. At the time it was legal to give away cocktail samples and talk with the store’s customers.

Soon William invited to me to dinner at a nearby restaurant, a cozy candle-lit place, out of the way (so his wife wouldn’t know- and I didn’t know he had a wife!). I thought of myself as a good girl, with high moral standards, so how come I was dating these men and behaving promiscuously? Perhaps I thought that life was too short, and I should move like a butterfly from flower to flower. I certain was not thinking about the future, trying to hurt or take money from anyone, or wanting to be bad. I was just trying to enjoy life to the fullest and I found all these men fascinating. One was proposing marriage to me; another was my pygmalion father figure; another was a high society polo player. I liked them all, and I thought I loved them– did I know what love was?

My life became a non-stop busy schedule of work and play, and I would go dancing, fishing, playing polo, stopping off in nightclubs, with these men, none of whom knew about the others. they were writing poems, and composing songs for me, giving me presents, taking me to country clubs and even to the president’s house. At the end of the day, however, I always went home alone to mama and the family. Looking back on the busy life of this sixteen year old, I even think that I envy myself– how is that possible?

In the midst of all these activities, one day I was to a private home by the private airport of General Marcos Jimenez, the rule of the country. It was a big party with Cuban dancers, a Brazilian singer, and there I would meet the generalissimo. He was a short, fat man with a buddha smile- I thought to myself, this man cannot be the great dictator. But it was all very polite and harmless, and afterwards his social secretary Victor Matute took me home.

The next day I had a show with Cacique Maria Luisa Escobar, a kind of Venezuelan Indian dancing and folklore presentation. My friend Marussa, a girl who worked in the same office building where I had worked, invited me to go to a big polo match between Venezuela and Argentina. So after my 12 noon show with Renny Ottolina, I went to the 2 pm polo match at the Country Club. It was up in a little valley in the nearby mountains, about 20 minutes from the Tamanaco hotel. The polo players were all attractive– what a bunch of handsome men, I thought– but I only had eyes for one, a Venezuelan player with big eyes and rich brown hair flowing down. He was very good looking and proud, this man Oscar Urreiztieta. After the game, I somehow wound up with his group of people as we went to the Polo Club bar, where I met his friends Howard Boulton (the son of Lord Boulton), Dr. Enrique Machado, and Enrique Villarreal, who was married to the daughter of the president.

As I sat and drank with this group of powerful and attractive men, I thought to myself, I like this high life! Even in high society, there is another level of society even higher, and this was group of very fine men- one was from Harvard University in the US, another from Cambridge in the UK. And here I was, with no education at all!

One day, Juan Carlos suddenly proposed to me and put a beautiful ring on my finger. I did not say yes, only maybe- I had no idea what the future held! Then he had to go off again for the Hilton hotel business meetings, so I just continued going out to nightclubs and living my life minute to minute. At home, Father was getting more and more depressed, drinking vodka like it was water, straight from a glass without ice or soda. This was about the time that we moved to the Italian neighborhood…..

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I have no photos of my red en pointe ballet shoes, but these are similar. Source: everyaustraliancounts.com.au

Once again we were on the go!  Every time we moved, we came to a new and different world, and I was already getting hooked on traveling– at least it was never boring! The Andes mountains were so beautiful- the air was fresh and cool, the skies bright blue, the mountain and hills brilliant green. Where we were was not a forest, nor a desert, but an alpine plateau with short vegetation and multicolored little flowers. My body felt heavier due to the altitude and the cold mountain air, but at least it wasn’t the bitter icy cold of European winter, more like a crisp clean cold.

We were driving to San Cristobal, which is even closer to the Colombian border. The people there were shorter and darker than in Caracas or even Merida—they were Indio Puro, pure Indian, unlike the mixture of Spanish, Italian, Russian and Mestizo that I’d seen in Caracas. Later I realized that the women of Venezuela are some of the most beautiful in the world, winning Miss Universe or Miss World titles almost every other year, and for a good reason: they are gorgeous!

San Cristobal had a Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theater), four stories high and the biggest building in town, and I began taking ballet lessons there. There was an older Russian woman teaching ballet, a real ballerina, and she became good friends with my mother. As my training progressed, I got into better condition and moved into first or second ballerina in the little company.

Up to this point, I had only used little ballet slippers, but now it was time to get real ballet shoes, the kind you can stand up in en point, held up by the toes and the shoe tips. It was my idea to get red shoes, not the usual beige or pink, and I got what I wanted. After my one and only performance, however, the director of the ballet came looking for me because I hadn’t paid for them yet! I hid under a big conference table, but he finally found me after a long search, up on the top floor. I clutched my precious zapatillas rojas to my chest and refused to let go, but finally they wrested them away. Oh, how I cried! My poor mama was so sad because she had tried hard to get the money to pay for the shoes, but things in our family had started to deteriorate and every financial transaction had to go first through father.  She soothed me and tried to tell me that it would be all right, that somehow we would find the money to get my red shoes back, but in the end, we soon moved again and I never did.  Although I was upset, I wasn’t angry with father or mother, nor did I act like a brat like some spoiled children might have done–I think my life experiences as a refugee and immigrant had conditioned me to understand that this was just the way things were.  You either had money for red shoes or you didn’t, ni modo.

By this time, my Spanish was getting very good, and I heard mama say, “Ludmila reminds me of Maria Mijalovna,” who was a translator to the Czar in the old days. I hadn’t heard of her, of course, so I asked my mama, who explained that this famous woman spoke 22 languages!  I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a lot!” I only spoke Russian, a little German and, most useful of all in my new life, Spanish.

I had learned the value of languages, since I now served as translator on the business trips papa made to sell Embotidos in Colombia. We would drive over the mountain roads with our red truck full of sausages and meats, through the cool mountain air. Meanwhile, Galina went to work in Caracas, since like Anatoly she could not get along with father, who was beginning to drink too often and lost his temper frequently (I did not know then that it was his alcoholic buzz causing that).

Without my siblings, I was scared and lonely, and looking forward to a new chapter in my life. Little did I know what the future held….

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