if the future doesn't work out for patty duffek, it won't be for lack of planning
We were in Phoenix, cruising in Patty Duffek's vintage Mustang, a '67 ragtop in the throes of restoration. Patty's driving style is all-American: Point it and punch it, left hand on the wheel and right hand darting periodically to the stereo. She loves the car. You can tell by the way she sits in it, head high, body hunched forward, like a jockey on a favorite horse. Outside, Phoenix flew by, all brand-new and sparkling, lying low and wide under the bowl of blue sky and sunshine that is its tradmark. It seems very few buildings in the town rise above the fourth floor. Around the newer buildings, which are in the majority, you're amazed to see acres of land, space to grow some more. What we used to call elbowroom.
Patty grew up in this sun-baked openness, and it would take a lot to get her away. "It's kind of like a little Western town, that's mostly what it is. I like the climate. I don't mind hot weather."
A good thing, too, since summertime highs in this desert town average 110 degrees. Air conditioning is not a luxury. It's a life-support system. But one adjusts. There is, for instance, tubing.
"We go to the Verde River," Patty told us. "You just get an inner tube with a bunch of people and go tubing down the river. There are all kinds of people there, like millions. Some of them bring beer and lunches and all that stuff. It's real relaxing. In some places, there are rapids, which are fun, too. It's not that dangerous. I mean, people have drowned, but I think you'd have to be pretty drunk for that."
A former sprinter and soccer player in school, Patty has continued her athletic ways, playing racquetball, jogging regularly and working up a good glow at her aerobic-dance class.
"I like working out as much as I like to keep in shape. Jogging is fun for me, because it's outdoors and I can use the time for thinking and relaxing. A mile or two is plenty for me. Any more than that is too much."
While still in high school, Patty got a job at the local Pioneer Chicken Take-Out. Six years later, she's still there. She enjoys the freedom that the job gives her. She's able to shift her hours around to her convenience. That came in handy when she was attending Glendale Community College and even more so when she decided to try her hand at modeling. Just a few credits shy of a business-administration degree, Patty intends to go back and finish it. A solid foundation is important to her.
"I don't normally do things on the spur of the moment," she says. "I'm kind of a planner, I guess. I'm organized."
In the back of her mind, Patty entertains the thoughts of being an actress or a model.
"I wonder what kind of opportunities might be out there. I've had a taste of it through Playboy, and it does make you think. But I don't want to be like some girls I've observed, who've moved to Hollywood with big hopes for things that will never happen.
"I guess I'm pretty conservative, though. Of course, if I were to say that to someone who found out I was in Playboy, he'd say, 'Right! Real conservative!' But I am, in a lot of ways. I had never modeled before in my life. So, naturally, I hadn't modeled with my clothes off. I was nervous. It's kind of embarrassing at first. But now that I did it all, you know, I'm glad. I'm definitely glad, but it was real scary."
For the time being, Phoenix is exotic enough. "In some ways," Patty says, "Phoenix is about five years behind a place like Los Angeles in the way people dress, the way they act, the way they see things. But the people are friendly here. They're not pushy. I don't like pushy people.
"I think family and job are the main interests of people around here. It's not a town where you go out and stay up partying all night." Which is not to say that that's a bad way to be. It's just not Patty's way.
"On a sunny day, I like to go to the lake and get a boat and water-ski. Then have a picnic, do a little sun-bathing, come home and mabye bo out to a show or a disco. That's a good day for me."
Photography by Kerry Morris, Arny Freytag