I once was photographed for Cosmopolitan in an editorial photograph with the logo, "What will happen to you if you become a Cosmo Girl." Well, opportunity came my way due to the credo of Helen Gurley Brown, who imbued in her readers and models that we could look sexy, have a career and stay single for as long as we wished and still have an active sex life -- like a man. I went on to become a supermodel known primarily for the ads who wanted to hire me to sell their products: De Beers Diamonds, Faberge Tigress, Chevy, Woolite, Spiedel, Clairol, Revlon, Hanes -- well, the list goes on and on and made me financially independent, which was a part of Helen's credo.
I also was photographed for many other magazine covers, such as Esquire (yes, the men wanted my image to sell their copy); New York Magazine (chose me to promote a book, the Sensual Summer by X, and used a photo of me in a bikini being splashed by a fire hydrant); GQ (more men picking up on Brown's choice of sensual women); Newsweek (Logo Fashion 71 Anything Goes), etc. Yes, even esteemed Newsweek chose to have Helen Gurley Brown's sensual image of me wearing red pantyhose and hot pants, a Romanian blouse, a big hat and smile on its cover. This cover outsold all other Newsweek covers in the '70s except those on Watergate.
In 1971, Helen chose me to be photographed by Francesco Scavullo for her cover of Cosmo in a T-shirt with the image of a pussycat and logo ''stroke me I'll purr." The shirts were sold and sales went through the roof. Now, we models rarely read the advertising logo splashed on our images. We just did as we were told. Be a good model, don't talk and smile. Today actresses are used for covers, but when I became a supermodel in the early '70s, models with European sensuality were chosen. Helen chose me to be photographed for many inside lingerie shots done most frequently by J. Fred Smith and Pete Turner. Emphasis was on beauty, sensuality, not sexuality. There was no nudity in Cosmo and Helen frowned on the Playboy image. In fact all of the models on the East Coast, who were primarily Ford models, rejected Playboy's desire to have us for centerfolds in its pages. I know I did.
Being in Playboy in the early '70s would have damaged my saleability to the valuable advertisers and would have made a deep wound in my strict Pennsylvania Deutsch puritanical heritage.
Helen Gurley Brown was no female Huge Hefner.
Helen Gurley Brown's models were in no way Playboy centerfolds. If anything, men were made to be centerfolds such as the one of Burt Reynolds in the '70s. Helen's models had class. Kim Bassinger and Rene Russo were two cover girls at the top of the celebrated cover girl list.
In the mid-'70s, I moved to Hollywood to test for a film about a sex symbol retiring from the motion picture industry. Columbia Studios was seeking an unknown because Brigette Bardot, Racquel Welch and Sophia Loren had turned this film down. I met this film's producer at a party. He informed me with a side smile, "Your breasts are too small and you are too classy so you did not get the part." The film was never made due to its sexual content, but it was clear that the West Coast's idea of beauty was blonde, buxom and compliant. I was brunette, pencil-thin and packed a 34B cup with enough cleavage for Helen Gurley Brown and the East Coast where the size one's breasts were not the focal point. And I have always spoken up. The West Coast was threatened by East Coast models and their beauty. The Cosmo girl created by Helen was sophisticated. She had a European flavor to her appearance and was not flagrant nudity that Playboy espoused.
I am grateful to Helen Gurley Brown for helping me to feel like a sexual creature instead of the Puritanical school teacher and Pan Am stewardess I was prior to meeting her. She jump-sarted something that was covered up in me that roared out of me as my image for Tigress Perfume by Faberge.
Today I am a professor of creative writing, have written a memoir and a novel, and review books and movies. I am read and listened to and this is a pleasure, but I would never have had this opportunity without first having been a Cosmo Girl for the late and charming Helen Gurley Brown, who created part of my arsenal of experiences from which I draw upon to write.