As much as I would have loved for Barbara to have become the first German Playmate, by then I was equally as happy  for Dagmar. Because in a different sort of way, she too was my very first experience in what it took to produce a centerfold, and in the process getting to know the young woman behind all that glamour.

‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ I heard Susi say, sneaking up close to me from behind.  ‘When I look at her, I can see why there are women who fall in love with other women.’ I still remember that momentary wishful look on her face. At the time, Dagmar was only nineteen – at the age when she was no longer an innocent little girl, nor was she a fully grown woman. Unlike David Hamilton’s mist covered budding waifs, resplendent with the early morning dew and dreaming sleeping beauties,  Dagmar was wide awake,  bathed in the bright daylight, throbbing with full of life and yet vulnerable enough to wilt away at a mere touch, like – lajamni – the shy one, an Indian flower that in its full bloom promptly closes its petals at a slightest touch.

For the late September, it was particularly a warm day and we were shooting in the living room of an exclusive Munich home with a large secluded courtyard in  rear of the house. During a short break, Dagmar had just casually wandered into the yard, sloughing off the bathrobe offered her by the assistant. She twirled around as if showering under the sunrays, soaking them in, like a naked angel gliding in the paradise. Totally unaware  of Susi and I standing by the porch door, absolutely infatuated by her unadulterated beauty. While Pompeo and his assistant were oblivious to her being gone, busy tinkering with the camera and the light settings.  When later asked by an editor, how did it feel to be photographed in the nude for the first time? Her answer: “Na, und? Zu Hause laufe ich doch auch immer was ohne rum” (And so? At home I always run around without anything on.)

Returning to the set, she reverted to her very self-conscious, shy and almost awkward demeanor  and resumed her stiff pose, leaning on a life size sculpture of a black pit bull.  Even though we realized that she was placed in what was very uncomfortable posture, at that moment we were all trying to  still make it work.  The real reason being; we only had a limited time. Pompeo had to leave for Italy the next day to resume his project there. Susi and I wanted to have our centerfold done before he departed. The end result was not satisfactory at all. With everything in place on the set, the next day we tried with a local photographer.  It got even worse.  In the end, Freddy and Rainer decided to go with the best of what Pompeo had shot.  We kept Dagmar in Munich for some days longer to shoot the cover and do some additional photos.

Oktoberfest had just began that weekend and the hotels all over Munich were overbooked. Penta couldn’t extend Dagmar’s stay. Susi asked me if she could stay with me, so it was Chez Shah for remaining of her stay in Munich. One of those evenings, Dagmar and I sat at a quiet table in my favorite Hungarian restaurant, Piroschka Csarda. We whisper talked in that dimly lit elegantly decorated place filled with the pleasant smells of paprika flavored dishes and the serenading of the strolling musicians.

Introvert and reticent up until then, she began to relax. Words began to flow out of her mouth –  slowly and softly.  As I looked at her from across the table, I couldn’t help but notice something sad hidden behind her shy and timid demeanor. The candle light flickering over her youthful luminous face had me mesmerized as I listened to her talk. What began to unfold that night and during rest of the weekend, was a story of her troubled young life.

Pages: 1 2 3