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Archive for the ‘Hollywood’ Category

In the Church they were holding communion. and of course being important people they had their reclinatorio which is a kneeling chair made of fine wood and covered in velvet, to kneel on. I was in the pew behind them with the rest of their family.  It seemed like they all where looking at me, wondering “What on earth is this prisoner doing with my parents?”  Of course I just kept praying and thinking “God let me be free of this nightmare,  I did not commit  any crime, why am I here?”

Now I need my 007

Now I need my 007

Wait a minute, did not commit any crime? Oh yes,  I had a half a roach in my pocket (it was not mine, it was my lovers, but nevertheless it was on my person) and seeds of Marijuana. It did not matter if I smoked it or not? I had them in my possession, but for 30 seeds, came on! Give me a break! It had been almost a month and a half and I was still a prisoner!

When the service was over, we walked over to the corner where there was a dinner place. The

rest of the family left, so the Licenciado, his wife and I sat down  in this restaurant “Maria’s” and between some food (glory be to God!), real food, we talked and I told them my story. They must have had a son who was on drugs or alcohol or something, because they were very sympathetic towards me and very gentle. I could read in her eyes tears wanting to come out, while he was concerned and gallantly containing his  emotions. Then he said I will try to help, and ask me don’t you have a lawyer?  Well, no and yes.. if you could give me permission to make some long distance calls to Caracas? I thought, maybe I can get someone to help me?…..

Smoking my dreams away

Smoking my dreams away

In  a few words, I understood that he would give me Monday the number of an abogado (Licenciado)  that was a very good friend of his– Lic. Lawyer Public Defender  Morales– to see if he could talk to the judge, they played golf together, to see about my case and when I would be going to court to finish this matter. The only thing I could say was GRACIAS, with tears in my eyes which I did not try to hide.

And when we were in the Cadillac,  I dared to ask if was also possible to allow me to use the phone with their permission to call my mother and my ex-husband? They said it would be OK.,  just that I have to ask his secretary for permission and not  to tell any other inmates,.

(I could spend many pages describing how moved they were  about my situation, but at the same time they could not show it, after all, I was their prisoner– yes, with some unheard of privileges).

They were holding back their laughter and smiles over this stupid incident, but the law is the law! They were so cute,  like seeing  that is exactly what they would havce been doing when they were younger, doing these crazy things that they never did, but would have  liked to have done!

Then when we got to the reten it was unusually quiet,  there were some men on the other side of the street, smoking and talking,  but my friendly cops were not there ,so  I went straight  to my hammock with my kitty and went to sleep with dreams of getting out of  Maracaibo and being back in the elegant parts of Caracas.

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That Saturday, after gambling until very late, for a change I lost some of may Bolivares, maybe because?– no,  I  am sure,  that the reason I is, I was  getting tire of playing with these guys, they were bad players and did not even knew the rank of cards well. So I drank and drank until I drank almost the hole of a litter bottle of rum by myself. There were several of than,  Saturday’s nights were  like this, ( thats not a surprise to any of you readers that know me).

Ludmila has been whit Peter in scary situations like THE ONDA NUEVA festival

Whit Peter Graves in Onda Nueva Festival in Caracas we had to confront almost Jail whit the mafia union to hired there grow of cameraman, in Onda Nueva festival that the close I ever became in prison ” (before this )…………….

Sunday I was tired but very excited: “I’m going out, out,!” Even if just to go to a Church  that is not mine, (Roman Catholic and I am Eastern Orthodox, you understand the difference?)+ I will see the streets and places; I was thinking that today there was also chance to talk  with Dona Magdalena and her husband the Jefe of this place,  and who knows what else es he? and of course beside being an: lawyer, lets not forget that, so let’s acknowledge that,  in fact he the and has wife may will be my ticket to ride out of here.

They arrived in a new black Cadillac parking  in front of the detention house main doors, Charlie call me out, escorting me too the car: “portate bien” he whispered in my ear.  We wink to each other with an smile.

(God bless  Dona Magdalena and her husband and her husband, at  times I think in retrospect it may have been her nagging her husband to set me free; she became my angel).

" In this photo, I was before in jail but was only a theater play"

” In this photo, I was before in jail but was only a theater play”

I was  dressed with my indian black dress and I did my long hair  on a Grace Kelly bun twist, nice and simple but elegant, very light lipstick very presentable  for Church ,  of course I still had my make up with me, being a model, what do you expect? not overly made up, just very presentable as I said before  for Church.

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I  notice that , I must say one thing,  that  in different civilisations women from tropical or latin countries tend to overdo their make up going to church, and the young dressed unprohibited for Church where I came from, of course that was my upbringing from my adored mama.

The smell of this new Cadillac reminded me of the good life, that I all of the sudden became too much, memories came back to my mind, my beloved William dancing in the private clubs, sunbathing in the Tamanaco pool, eating in great elegant restaurants, drinking out of crystal classes, real cloth napkins, etc,. men lighting may cigarettes, pulling my chair, opening the doors, where is all this gone? This was so rough, almost cruel, have to go back, I  miss it!.

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Oh yes I missed that life, seeing my mother dress  up for Church,or going to a Russian Ball. All this was spinning  in my mind,  I felt  so weak in my present  nightmare. When is it going to be over?  I want get out of this situation and out of Maracaibo! It is a long and incredible story!

In Church on my knees I prayed and prayed and my tears just roll on by themselves; I could not stop them! Why  am I here?

There was an answer, but I did not know that yet, I was a alcoholic and I did no know at, and  that was that.

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We walked hand in hand, we talked, and we heard some far away music, very Mexican and romantic. Of all the composers of course it was one I knew very well– Agustin Lara! They were  playing “Mujer Mujer Divina” that he composed for all of the women he loved. But at that time Maria Felix was his great love, as I once was like every women he ever loved.

In Puerto Vallarta Ludmila after swimming.....

In Puerto Vallarta Ludmila after swimming

Then he got a bottle of good wine and we drank it sitting in the sand and watching the sunset. We did not speak much as we walked to my hotel and we said goodnight in front of my hotel room door, with the most innocent but passionate kiss I ever had. I went straight to the table where a bottle of Scotch was sitting, and I poured myself a stiff drink or two, and then went to bed.

The next morning when I walked in our bathroom, there on the floor were many papers and restaurant napkins folded. I sat on the john and started reading them, with my heart throbbing and goose pimples all over my skin. This is the starting process of being in love, how did they get here? I looked up behind me, at the wall up ahead, and saw a little window that was very high up, facing the corridor and the interior of our bathroom. It read that he had to see me again, please!

Ludmila coing to the river area whit local woman..

Ludmila at to the river area with local women

My friend was still in bad and very uncomfortable shape, so I went downstairs to the desk to ask for a massage, acupuncturist, or doctor. And there in the lobby he was sitting writing some magazine! We said hello and I invited him to the fish dinner that evening; we already invited a full table but I asked the chef to make one more space. I had a terrible night because of the pain of poor John, whose back was killing him and had to wait until later to get someone to ask for a doctor. It was a Sunday so not many people worked, not even in the emergency rooms, where they were open but there was no doctors available. I went upstairs after saying to Tad Gail that I was to talk to him and see him later that night, “can’t talk now, I must help my friend and business associate, he is not very well.” He stared in my eyes holding my hand and said, “I will be there– maybe we will talk after dinner?”

Modeling for a cover of a magazine

Modeling for a cover of a magazine

Today I know very well that I always needed to be in love, always, and especially when pain, distress or any crisis comes along that I cannot cope with. So when I am feeling that indescribable thing called love, anyone who was willing to give me attention and show of concern or care, I converted it into a love. Today I begin now to understand that, which at that time I was blind to due to alcohol. Under all that was a serious alcoholism in full bloom, you will say, and drugs! I think I agree now that it was the pain in my subconscious, from my childhood and youth that I masked by drinking, and using what appeared to be love. I found the only emotion to cover pain was love, or did I really ever love anyone?

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Ludmila working as a top make up artist in Beverly Hills

Ludmila working as a top make-up artist in Beverly Hills

Jose just forgot about me. He wrote a few letters to me in LA, that he would soon be there, and as time went on I suffered like a mad beast, with my pride and my imaginary love for him! Leaving my dear Jack did not leave me with much peace of mind, and in the meantime Joy had got Jack closer to herself. I had invited them to a Mexican party, by that time I had a Mexican house boy helping me. But Jack seemed uninterested in me anymore, or maybe it was his pride. I couldn’t blame him nor did care to notice that he did not desire anything with me romantically, much less wanting me back.

The cane and the pipe became one with me. Daud had big parties with some families like the Saturdays with Baba, and some orgies I went to. I drank at home, I drank at the party, I drank in the car driving: I drank and drank and drank. I remember that I was restless; unhappy which is not in my nature, but I was missing something that I did not know or understand. I felt that there had to be more to my life, something greater, that I could be doing with my mind and life. But the time went by, the clock did not stop ticking. I did not know that there was help like A.A. available.

The two hair artist and Ludmila in the salon of Robinson on Beverly Hills

The two hair artists and Ludmila in the salon of Robinson on Beverly Hills

Then this great idea came to my mind: why not worked in cosmetics, since I knew almost everything there was to know about it, and modeling and acting were disappointing to me. Without realizing that the trouble was with me, not my profession, I went and got a job at one of the most prestigious Beverly Hills salons. Suddenly I was a “world-famous makeup artist!” I don’t actually know how I managed to get that title, since I had always been a customer on the receiving end, massages, facials, makeup, hair…but then I was telling these very rich women what to use, and the more they bought the more I would get. I was even invited to La Jolla to a large mansion with our famous hair artist to work at an incredible lavish wedding– he was doing the hair and me the makeup. They put us up at the fabulous La Jolla Hotel with all expenses paid.

At the wedding I met Jaclyn Smith for the second time, who kept staring at me and said, “Do I know you? Are you sure we didn’t meet some place?” I denied it, gently like the lady I was, but firmly.

Mexican style party in Ludmilas home.

Mexican style party in Ludmila’s home

Of course I knew her, when my dear aristocratic friend Octavio Senoret after not being very successful financially with his paintings, which were really gorgeous, he had an incredible style–unique, like every good creative artist. He was from a great family in Chile and in those times Mexico did not want any Russians like me! I had to pay a bond when I came to see Agustin Lara, guaranteeing my return to Venezuela. See how things have changed now, when the Mexicans want every right without paying. I don’t say that bitterly, just pointing out how history changes and we in Mexico gladly obey their rules as it is their country, just like the U.S. is another people’s country, with one big difference: do we have the Statue of Liberty standing high and mighty? We ought not to hurt and abuse her, but together make even more glorious this free land of milk and honey for the pursuit of happiness and freedom for all. Especially to whomever is willing to respect and love this beautiful land– I guess I am too old fashioned and so what? In any case, they did not allow Octavio to even enter Mexico, even to see his children that lived in Yelapa (Acapulco), supposedly because Chile was communist.

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In the period after I left Jack, my life was one big quest for love, drugs, and an imaginary happiness. The source of happiness seemed to be getting high, so I developed a deep unquenchable thirst for drugs, alcohol, and selfish pleasures. This quest took all the sanity out of my mind.

I left a husband who took care of me the best he knew how, brought me coffee in bed in the morning, put up with my hangovers, which were getting to be every day, and really did everything for me. I wanted animals, he said okay. Jack would go to farms to pick up hay and other food for the animals out in the middle of the countryside, and bring it back to Hollywood just to please me. We took many trips together, or he would let me go off by myself to Tahiti (yet another story for the book), Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, Papaiety, and Venezuela. He let me go to Mexico whenever I wanted, which I did frequently so I could escape into more alcohol and drug adventures, like with Buck Rogers. I had many friends like the ex wife of Ron Lavender who owned a very famous Gallery. She introduced me to many people among which an incredible lover, who was handsome with black azabache hair. (but this part of my adventure goes on in the book).

Ludmila going to the Polo field to ride the horse

Ludmila going to the Polo field to ride the horse

Jack said that he didn’t realize how badly I was strung out on drugs, which shows how deceptive addiction can be. He thought I was just having fun, because I hid my worst behavior and made him believe I was okay. At that time everybody I knew in Hollywood seemed to be strung out on something. I thought it was okay flirting and even going to bed with other men, because that is what I learned from my first beloved man. My fantasy of selfish, make-believe happiness was really just to camouflage my own inner pain and the sickness of addiction.

There were parties at Sammy Davis Jr.’s place in Beverly Hills, with lots of cars parked in front of his house. Sammy loved collecting expensive new cars, like many nouveau riche people. He was born Catholic but converted to Judaism, probably for the convenience that it offered in Hollywood in those years, and the movie business. You got more work if you were friends with the Jewish directors, investors and agents. Also they made great husbands. I was married to two of them, Tom and Jack, and let’s not forget my first love, Walter, who was also Jewish. Although he was not so good, promising the sky and yet he gave me nothing, only took from my youth, the innocence. But he made me dream of a better tomorrow.

Daniel Rio Lobos and me and others in a crazy party in Venezuela in Alejandro's Penthouse

Daniel Rio Lobos, Ludmila and others in a crazy party in Venezuela in Alejandro’s Penthouse

I don’t know what he really believed. I had a photograph of him swearing an oath to Satan, some Cult of 666 that was popular, especially for the sex. I have one photo of me, taken for a magazine, posing at a dark castle on the Hollywood Hills. I went there and saw caskets in the rooms, weird things; as I was leaving the photo shoot, people were arriving dressed in strange black costumes, so that gives you an idea what was going on. But he was a great singer and dancer, one of the best in that period, or maybe the best eve. The parties were wild and full of drugs and liquor. I personally only can say about him that he was a gracious host and very lively, a nice person to me and Jose, so let God be the Judge. I liked him very much as a performer.

There were many parties and stories that I will keep writing but not all of them here in my blog, you will have to read my book.

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Charlton Heston   scratching his shoulder and Jessica Walters in front of Ludmila

Ludmila on the set with Charlton Heston and Jessica Walters: “Ready for your closeup, Miss Alexanova?”

In Caracas, once upon a time, I remember seeing a film with Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg called “La Dolce Vita.” Well, that movie exactly portrayed my life back then, even when I was working: In and out of love, a life of romance, sex, cocaine, alcohol, even orgies– just like the movie. It was not just a dream: The modeling jobs, parties, commercials, shows and more parties, photographers and yet more parties. My life was “La Dolce Vita” back and forth from New York to Hawaii to Europe to South America to USA– my life was not boring for a second. I did not know what boredom was, nor do I know it to this day. Life was just a big non-stop party.

My dreams in that Porlamar swing, where I spent hours when I was allowed, sometimes until the night, inventing the world, touching the skies with the height of the swing, higher and higher– creating and shaping my dream into reality. My inquisitive eyes drew the world of my desires, bringing thousands of questions into my mind. I was sure the answers were there in Hollywood, so far away that it seemed my dreams were hiding from me, too far to reach from there in my swing, but inside me the dreams were real.

Bill Cosby and Ludmila

I dreamed that someday, with a hidden treasure inside of me, I will be there, I will show them that I am a star, so brilliant, because I was born with the grace that God gave me,and I will reach the other stars of Hollywood.

My hope was fed by those dreams that seemed so real to me, in a secret compartment of my heart, knowing that my destiny was closer than those stars shining over my head. When I finally traced my destiny to Hollywood, I was given a role in a film called “Number One,” starring Charlton Heston, my dear! He was a big big star! How many times had I seen him on the big screen, playing biblical roles and other parts. He flirted with me, but that was all, he seemed to be faithful to his wife, even though she was not there in the studio spying on him, like some of the other actors’ wives did.

As we were shooting, in came the great actress, Jessica Walters. She played a big role in the film. Later, Bill Cosby, the comedian, came onto the set, but I did not like him too much. He was pretentious and very arrogant, not funny at all, but at that time he was very good looking and had good manners.
I did not have to name the stars in the sky anymore, and I did not need to sit on a swing to try to reach them and give them names: They were all here in Hollywood! The unreachable stars were within the reach of my hand! I don’t remember exactly what went through my mind, but I know that I felt my wings stretch out and that I flew like a bird again.  It’s true that my part was small, but my star was growing bigger and bigger, as I had always known it would.

I was in and out of the Beverly Hills Hotel for cocktails, dancing at Halloween balls in great costumes that some of the studios were kind enough to lend or rent to us. These costume parties were almost as good as the Oscars parties at that time is what I imagine.

I had lunch at the Brown Derby with Peter and Joan Graves. To be honest, I don’t remember if we even ate, but I know that we drank and drank until we ended up at his trailer in the studio where all three of us had fun together, and of course more drinks. Now, looking back all those fantastic different men, there are only two that I remember as having been good lovers.

The next Christmas, I was invited to Dean Martin’s house. I just loved him ever since he and Jerry Lewis made all those great road trip movies, very funny films. Dean was a straight man and Jerry the real damie, funny indeed, something like Bob Hope on “The Road to Hong Kong” with Dorothy Lamour. I had always dreamt of meeting all of them, and eventually I did, sooner or later, through close friends or  acquaintances from parties. I think Dorothy was already gone by the 1960s when I arrived to Hollywood.

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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!

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On a Tour Bus

Upon awakening my first day in Hollywood, I couldn’t see the sad environment I was in. I only had one thing on my mind, “I must see everything!” I first needed to get to know this city. So I put on some makeup and out the door I went! I walked and walked, until I found myself not too far from Fairfax and Santa Monica Blvd. I continued walking, while passing cars honked their horns, and men offered to pick me up. I totally ignored them and kept on walking until I got to La Brea and Hollywood Blvd, then to Sunset. I kept on going west following the advice I remembered from the western movies that said, “go west young men.” The east seemed poorer, but the west looked prettier. And suddenly, there they were! All the handprints of the stars that I grew up with during my youth, the stars of my dreams, in the sidewalk in Hollywood Blvd!

I reminisced on the swing where I played as a child, imagining that I was already in Hollywood and meeting all those stars– Victor Mature, Errol Flynn, Barbara Streisand, Greta Garbo, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin. Those big stars from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, here I was, with their hand and footprints! I stood in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and just loved it. I crammed my feet to step in their prints, carefully with love, while my heart was pounding with joy that I am finally here!

I walked until nightfall. I don’t even remember how I got back to the hotel; I only knew I needed to sleep. On the second day I took a bus tour to go observe the whole city and find a more beautiful place to live. I was still spending the 1000 dollars Walter gave me and I had my morocotas of gold knowing they could be of use if I needed to sell them.

On the tour I started to see some beautiful places! Santa Monica Blvd. goes all the way to the ocean. It wasn’t so pretty to me, being totally different from the tropical Caribbean that I grew up with. There were no natural palm trees, no soft sand, not fine and white, and the color of the water isn’t clear blue. To me it looked dirty. I was shocked that this is the ocean of the Pacific, that people back east and all around the country bragged about and glorified. They would say, “you’re lucky to go to California, the beaches are great, so beautiful!” Well it was still water and ocean to me, and I needed that, at least to look at the immensity and infinity, and feel that space of freedom.

The bus tour continued without stops, and people were not supposed to get out wherever they wanted, only where they started the tour. But as we passed by Wilshire Blvd, at the railroad track the bus had to stop and opened the doors. “Now we are entering Beverly Hills,” announced the voice on the speaker. We were at Linden Drive, and what a beautiful street! Since I was sitting in the front row of the bus and the doors opened, with no hesitation I jumped out and walked away while the driver yelled, “No, come back!” I just turned around and said “No speak ingles, thank you goodbye!” and I headed down that lovely street with trees. After I walked about half a block, I saw a little sign stuck into the ground, “apartment for rent.” It was a typical Californian courtyard, with grass, plants and flowers, and a little fence. It was a two story apartment building with a nice water fountain in the center of it. I just adored it and thought, “How much will it cost? I’ll just ask the manager, but how will I understand everything? We’ll see!”

I paid for the deposit, with the money Walter gave me, and I even had money left to go shopping. Just half a block down was a gorgeous Catholic school. I thought to myself, “This is great for my niece Vera.” There were stores on Wilshire Blvd with Rodeo Drive just two and a half blocks away. Signs were hung everywhere to hire people for the holiday season. This was September of 1960, and Hollywood was full of stars– Elvis, Marilyn, Elizabeth, everybody lived here in Beverly Hills or in Bel Air, and now me!

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Hollywood, here I come!

Basic black dress for modeling

Go to Hollywood! I took a Greyhound bus across the country to Hollywood all alone. Now life was taking on a different color. While passing through the states, seeing the open countryside, I could not keep my eyes away. I loved to see this vast country, all the people, state after state, across the continent. We would only stop to eat, get gas, and visit rest areas for a few minutes. I was just flabbergasted by all this scenic grandeur, and I savored every second of it. I did not think of the past or carry any vices with me to enslave me at the time. I just thought to myself what a strange incredible place! My God, how big is Texas? I don’t understand a word they are saying but I know what they mean. We are going through a state famous for their potatoes– are we in Ohio or Idaho? Virginia ham, well it is not like my fathers ham, but it sure is delicious!

It took three days and two nights; early on the third morning we saw road signs to Los Angeles many miles ahead. I kept thinking, “I want to go to Hollywood, not Los Angeles.” My head was spinning, pounding from emotion, and my nerves excited and on high alert. I was wondering, “where will I sleep tonight?” At that moment I heard the speaker of the bus announce “we will arrive soon.” But, “where are the movie star?” I thought to myself. A not so beautiful city was appearing in front of my big window. I saw highways and freeways, and automobile traffic everywhere. Then we arrived at the poorest part of downtown L.A. and a sad looking bus station appeared in front of us; the bus driver reminded us not to forget our luggage and all our belongings on the bus. Everybody was busy getting ready to meet someone, except me.

I was alone with my God, so I made the sign of the cross over myself and proceeded to get out and confront my future. How I managed to find someone who spoke Spanish God only knows, but there he was, an older Mexican gentleman. There were not so many Latinos in downtown LA in 1960. He was going to a hotel not far from the station, he said he “knew a very old family hotel, that is clean and comfortable. More importantly, it’s economical, and above all very safe for a lady alone,” he added. So I got in a taxi and went there. It was by the overpass of a freeway exit, but to me it was better than downtown.

I walked in to the reception desk that was in a living room with musty old furniture. I saw a big T.V. in the far corner, where old people were sitting watching, and smoking away. The room felt heavy, old and gray, but it was okay with me. As I entered they all turned to look at me. It was not that I had people staring at me whenever I entered a room, or cars bumping into each other when I walked across a street back in Venezuela. But somehow this was different, these people were Americans, most of them men, but there were some women too. I felt flattered, not scared, and besides I was tired. I almost didn’t sleep on the bus because I wanted to see it all, even at night, every light in every city captivated my interest.

“Here is your key,” said the man behind the counter. So with key in hand, I walked to my room and opened the door. It was a big room with an old carpet. We had had no carpets back at home because it was too expensive and only rich people had carpets. There was a big rocking chair on one side of the room, a double bed, and a window that opened out to nowhere.

I did not like it much, especially after living like a free bird in the open spaces, and only later did I realize it was due to my feeling of claustrophobia. But there was this big bathtub on four legs in a big bathroom, just like in the cowboy movies. O yes! So I put hot water in the tub, enjoyed a bath, unrolled the bed blankets, unpacked my clothes in the closet, and then I just lay on that old bed and closed my eyes. Even with all the lights on, I fell into a deep sleep. I felt so carefree– how could that be? I was far from home, away from everybody and everything I knew, but somehow I felt that my grandmother’s, and my mama’s blessings and prayers were still with me. The guardian angels allowing me to rest peacefully.

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