DRIVING MISS PERRY
on freeway and fairway, miss november shows her form
"I hate Los Angeles," growls 23-year-old Donna Perry, who at this moment seems less like a mild-mannered Miss November than a blonde, supercharged Mario Andretti as she careens among the freeway lanes in her sporty red Mitsubishi 3000GT. Leaving the city behind, she is headed home to the San Fernando Valley for a golfing expedition -- miniature golf, that is. We head for the Arroyo Seco course for a friendly round and a nostalgic return to her roots. "I loved it here," she recalls as we whisk past her childhood home and three of her former schools. "It is more family oriented -- like where I live now. I love families." Sure enough, a clan of her own is on the horizon. "People say I got married too young," Donna says of her merger a year and a half ago with Mike, a guitarist in a band called Bad Seed. "But I want to have kids before I'm 26. My folks are senior citizens. You get along better with your kids if you're younger when you have them." We arrive at the course and Donna strides toward the first hole, her hair tied into a swinging ponytail. Dressed in a gray T-shirt and jeans shorts, she guides me from green to green, revealing the secrets and difficulties of each hole. "Here's the wishing well," she whispers, as if this one has special meaning. She lines up the ball carefully, gives it a god whack and then - wait a minute - the ball rolls through the well and past the hole and comes right back to her. "That's strange," Donna says, tapping the ball, and this time coming closer to the mark. "The next hole is the anthill. It's a hard one." She's not kidding. It takes her ten tries to complete the hole.
In the years since she moved from this suburb, Donna has enjoyed a successful career in front of the camera. "People have always told me I should be a model, but at first I didn't succeed. Agencies kept saying I was too tall or too commercial. So I tried and tried again." Eventually, she landed her current agent an now has loads of work, including walk-on parts on "Baywatch," in "Wayne's World" and on "90210." ("But I got cut out of that one"). Despite her success, Donna is eager to dispel the myth that modeling is all fun and glitz. "It's so nonglamourous," she insists. "It's the hardest thing. Being a secretary is probably much easier. As a model, you have to be perfect all the time. It's really hard on your ego and your self-esteem."
We arrive at the castle, the second-to-last stop on the course. She aims, putts, and - yikes - it happens again: The ball shoots past the hole and inevitably finds its way back to Donna's feet. Can you blame it? She laughs as she lines up the shot again, and this time sinks the ball for a birdie. "I did it!" she cries. "Just call it luck." We prefer to think of it as natural talent, Donna.
-- D.B. Atcheson
Photography by Arny Freytag