a pretty patroness of the arts becomes our september playmate
There exists in this world a small but notable number of girls to whom artistic endeavors come naturally. Such a gifted one is our September Playmate, a dark-tressed Los Angeleno named Victoria Valentino, whose talents, like her figure, are wondrously well-rounded. Vicky has many irons in the creative fire: she paints, she sings, she dances, ("Mostly still lifes, and pen-and-inks"), she sings ("My voice is technically imperfect, but I like to think it has a bluesy quality that gets a song across"), she dances ("Purely for my own pleasure -- though I did work one summer teaching ballet to little girls")., she plays the guitar ("I'm what you would call an experimentalist"). And she acts -- wherein lies the pith of her talent and the core of her fondest hopes. "I've always wanted to be an actress," she notes in her quiet, melodic voice. "This is not a pipe dream -- I've been prepping for it ever since my father, who is a freelance commercial artist, and my mother, an ex-singer, put me in the professional Children's School in New York City. I studied a year at New York's American Theater Wing, where I majored in musical theater, before moving to L.A. I'm taking private acting lessons now and waiting for what people call the 'big break' -- no luck so far, outside of hospital shows, some summer stock, and work in little theater groups. But I keep busy with girl-type activities like sewing, dusting and cooking, and with my painting and hobbies. And I wait for my chance -- I'm still game." Fair game -- for Vicky is an artistic achievement in her own right: standing 5'3" in her stockinged feet and weighing in at 110 well-distributed pounds, her fragile beauty suggests a classic Castilian heritage (vide the gatefold). But no Spanish blood flows in Vicky's veins -- for the most part, her lineage combines Italian fire with English ice. Flashing her Latin spirit, she bridles at any implication that she is a kindred soul of the pseudo-arty, coffeehouse crowd that proliferates like smog in the L.A. environs. "I got out of that bohemian mess a year ago," she states emphatically, "and I haven't gone back. It was a question of mental helth and self-preservation." Herewith a sampler of other distinctively Victorian views -- On herself: "I'd describe my personality as sensitive and introspective. My main weakness, besides staying in bed till all hours, is an occasional lapse of self-confidenceI'm very easily hurt if a man I like shows a lack of respect toward me. I should laugh it off, I know, as being the way the world is. But I can't -- my hopes are always too high." On personal preferences: "I enjoy reading the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoievsky, plays by O'Neill, and poetry by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. In the performing arts, my favorite actress is Anna Magnani -- she's a woman in the full sense of the word. When it comes to movies, I guess I'm something of a snob because I definitely prefer foreign films. I also get enthusiastic about Spanish food, Arabic folk dances, and life in Mexico -- which is where I'd live if I were rolling in money, which I'm not." On her outdoor life: "I hack away at badminton, and do some swimming, but my big exercise kick is hiking. I head for the country and keep going till I find a remote and peaceful spot -- or until I collapse." On what she wants from life: "Love." Vicky, a firm believer in fate, is sure that her life "will follow as it was planned out long before I came into existence." If the fates have indeed selected our September Playmate to mime a predestined part as a star-struck young actress, then clearly the role could not have been more winningly cast -- by either kismet or MGM.
Photography by Mario Casilli