from chilly denmark comes someone as hot as helle
Helle Michaelsen stands on the balcony of her West Hollywood apartment, eyeing the luxuirious swimming pool three floors below. It's an unusually warm day for early spring -- even by Southern California standards -- with the thermometer hovering in the low 80s. Helle would be at the pool except that she has business to attend to.
And Helle (pronounced hell-a) is very serious about business. "I want very much to be a success," she says in the charming accent of her native Denmark. "I love Denmark, but if you are a success-minded person, you cannot succeed there. That's what made me take the step to move to another country." Actually, Helle did succeed in Denmark. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be an actress, and by the time she was fresh out of high school, she was working regularly in Danish films and TV. Helle (who uses the first name Helena for acting) top-lined three action films that played Scandinavia and gained some notable publicity. But being a film star in Denmark is like being an auto magnate in Peru -- the real game is in Hollywood, and Helle, who is now 19, wants to be a player. "I love being around people who want to be successful," she says. Despite her accent and newcomer status, Helle has already found work and an illustrious social life in Hollywood. She recently worked as an extra in the upcoming Tony Curtis film Midnight. In Demark, she was a leading lady; in America, she is still a bit player. "But that's good for you," she philosophizes. "You appreciate things more when you have to work for them." Socially, things are a bit more in keeping with her stellar past. She met fellow transplanted Dane Brigitte Nielsen at several parties, and it was the ex-Mrs. Rambo who recommended that Helle try out for Playmate. "Being a Playmate is important to me," says Helle. "It's a way of advertising myself." She plans to use her Playmate money to hire a voice coach to help her work on her accent, which sometimes stands in the way of bigger, better parts. As it turns out, Gitte isn't the only potentially helpful friend Helle has met socially. At another party, she was introduced to Gitte's ex, who, despite gossip linking him to superdeb Cornelia Guest, asked Helle to join him for an evening of champagne and dinner. "Sylvester Stallone is a very attractive man, whether he has money or not," says Helle. "For me, being around people like producers and actors is a learning experience. I look up to them, because I want to be the same as they are." Not surprisingly, Helle sees both Gitte and Sly as her kindred spirits. All three are dedicated to their careers, and all three are self-made. But Helle may feel a bit closer to her fellow countrywoman. "Brigitte is very sweet and very intelligent," she says. She laughs when Gitte's controversial reputation is discussed. "Scandinavian women have to live up to their reputations, right? I mean, we are free girls, we're out on the market" jokes Helle, adding with a mischievous wink, "and we usually like anything Italian."
Photography by Richard Fegley