Princess From The Pampas
don't cry for her, argentina
"When I go to France, they think I'm French. When I go to Italy, they think I'm Italian. Anywhere I go, that's where they think I'm from. It's amazing!" Veronica Gamba is deceived. We were talking with her in California, and she clearly wasn't from there. Such exotica is rarely home-grown. She is, as you may suspect, imported -- from Argentina. Indeed, her ancestors were among the founders of the Argentine Republic, which makes her sort of a princess of the pampas. Her mother, who was living in Germany, met Veronica's father on a holiday in Argentina. Their subsequent marriage extended her vacation, and two little Gambas, Veronica and her brother, cemented the union. When her father died, the family moved to New Rochelle, New York, and later to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Veronica and her mother still live. Veronica has just wrapped her second decade. Since high school, she has been a fashion model working an international circuit that has included Houston, New York, France and Italy. Most of the time, she travels with her mother. The two are practically inseparable. "She's my best friend," Veronica gushes. "She's always for me, whatever I want to do. Anything! I can go to her and tell her anything. She gives me advice, I give her advice; that kind of relationship. I think it's nice to have a friend, not just a parent."
The relationship does come in handy. For obvious reasons, there aren't too many girls who want to hang out with Veronica. "I get along much better with men than with women," she admits. "Women always think I'm out to get their boyfriends. I mean, I don't even have to open my mouth. All I have to do is walk down the street and they give me dirty looks. It's a weird feeling." We can see the problem. Veronica is intimidating. She's bright and self-assured. Her travels have left her with an insight that comes close to sophistication. Besides English, she speaks Spanish and Italian well enough to get by. And because she thought at one time that she would like to be a news anchor, she studied communications at Brown Institute for a year. However, when we met her, she had already decided that movie acting was a better game. So far, she has appeared in two small parts: one in Smokey and the Bandit Part III and the other in Ladies' Night, in which she portrays one of Christopher Atkins' girlfriends. She's no dilettante in the performing arts, either. She's done children's theater, studied ballet for many years and is an accomplished dancer.
"I would like someday to win an Oscar," she declares. "I'd like to be given the opportunity to read for a role that might give me that, instead of having producers say, 'OK, the girl has a nice body. Let's stick her in a bathing suit and put her in a hot tub with eight guys.' I don't want those roles."
Frankly, Veronica hasn't had much luck with even one guy. She blames her travels for half the problem, her own jealousy for the balance. "I'm a very jealous person. Stupid jealous. I think it's a sickness. It's OK for me to look at other guys but not for my boyfriend to look at other girls. It's so sick. I should be put away!"
In the meantime, she gets her kicks from cars -- the faster, the better. "I have fantasies about being a race-car driver," she confides. "It's not only the speed, it's the enjoyment I get out of just looking at a car. I have very strange feelings when I look at a car I like. It's a turn-on, kind of. I'm like, awed by it. I've driven as fast as 120 miles an hour. It's like I'm going to die at any second; like I'm going to explode. I used to love to drive on the autobahn. Cars go by you like -- shuuum! So far, I've gotten only one speeding ticket, and that was for doing 42 in a 30-mile zone. It wasn't even worth getting a ticket at that speed!"
We'll lay odds that it'll be a long time before Veronica settles down. "I just don't really know what I want yet. I'd like a relationship. I've always had a good one with my mother, and I'd like that with a man. But I also want to be independent. I'm not the type who can just marry a millionaire for his money. If I like somebody, it's for himself. If it came to that, I'd rather be the one with the money. I want my own, you know what I mean?"
Photography by Arny Freytag