once, twice, three times a lady: it's the identical dahm triplets
This is what happens when you walk into House of Blues in Chicago with triplets Nicole, Erica and Jaclyn Dahm: Word spreads like a Malibu brushfire that someone important has arrived. "Who is it?" people whisper, frantically scanning the room for the source of the excitement. "There!" someone shouts, pointing to the doorway, where three tall, blonde, svelte, identical women stand, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, oblivious to the commotion they're causing. Men gawk. Are they models? Playmates? Women give our Miss Decembers astonished once-overs. Servers fight to balance wobbly trays of food, their arms suddenly gone limp. The maître d', who just told the party in front of you that there is a 35-minute wait for a table, whisks your group into an elevator and up to the VIP lounge. Long Island iced teas are rushed to the table. Busboys sneak from the kitchen for a glimpse. The waitress says, "Are you triplets? Wow! You're so pretty!" Welcome to Dahm mania, a phenomenon that started on December 12, 1977 when Nicole, Erica and Jaclyn were born, in that order, to parents Robert and Donita. The triplets have been in the spotlight ever since, including a Hardee's commercial when they were eight years old, victory in a Teen magazine model search at the age of 16 and appearances on talk shows, including The Jenny Jones Show and Ricki Lake.
Q: Do the three of you cause a frenzy everywhere you go?
[b]Nicole: [b]If we do, we don't notice it.
[b]Jaclyn: [b]We try to fade into the background. We're actually quiet and kind of shy.
Q: If only one of you had become a Playmate, would the other two have been jealous?
[b]Jaclyn: [b]We would never have done this as individuals.
[b]Nicole: [b] We felt less insecure posing as a group. During the photo shoot I was thinking, They're looking at her, not at me.
Q: What is the coolest thing about being a triplet?
[b]Jaclyn: [b] We each can tell what the other two are thinking without their saying anything.
[b]Erica: [b] It's an instant party. We start the grill, grab some beer, call our boyfriends and have six people ready to rage.
Q: Is there a downside to being a triplet?
[b]Jaclyn: [b]Privacy is not easy to find. Growing up, we shared everything, even a bedroom. And people always ask, "Which one are you?"
[b]Erica: [b]When we were born, our fingerprints were so similar that the doctor had to put permanent ink dots on our butts to tell us apart. Nicole was born first, so she has one. I have two. They were going to put three of them on Jaclyn, but she was so tiny, the dots would have blended and looked like two. So she has none.
Q: In a dark room, how do your boyfriends tell you apart?
[b]Jaclyn: [Laughs] They don't.
[b]Erica: [b] That's for sure. Nicole's boyfriend will come up behind me and put his arms around me, and I'm like, "Wrong one, buddy."
Q: Tell us more about your wild side.
[b]Nicole: [b] We respect our parents, so let's just say that we have done some things behind their backs.
Q: Like what?
[b]Jaclyn: [b]You name it.
[b]Erica: [b]People think we're sweet and innocent, but we're not. Speed turns us on. We'd get on a Harley with a guy in a second.
[b]Nicole: [b]Plus we have tattoos on the insides of our wrists.
Q: What do your tattoos symbolize?
[b]Jaclyn: [b] The three of us.
[b]Nicole: [b]We came from one egg that was split into three. We wanted to symbolize how close we are.
Photography by Richard Fegley