Following what must have been a tortuous divorce of her parents, Dagmar and her three brothers were placed into orphanage, which is where the siblings spent their formative years. Her disdain for her birth mother bordered on hate, for feeding them with all sorts of  lies about their father. Finally, when their father remarried, he got the custody of the kids. Soon after, he died of a heart attack.  Through the subdued light and the low key ambience of the restaurant, I saw gleaming tears rolling down her eyes. As I put my hand over hers to comfort her, I couldn’t help but think of Marilyn Monroe, who too grew up in foster homes and by default became Playboy’s first Playmate, then called Sweetheart of the Month.

Prior to that, I would have thought Dagmar to be chasing rainbow through her appearance in Playboy. Quite the contrary. She had no such ambitions. At the time, she was a full time art and design student at Kölnner Fachhochschule für Kunst und Design, pursuing its teaching program. And if not for the freelance photographer Jacques Alexandre, hovering around her and having talked her into doing some “romantic photos”, she would never have thought of posing for anything, let alone becoming Playboy Germany’s first Playmate.  Of which, she says with a cryptic smile on her face: is actually very funny – schon sehr lustig. Farthest from her mind was a career in modeling or otherwise becoming a part of the glamour scene, which at the time in Germany was Munich.  She was flattered that we thought her to be beautiful, and since for her the nudity was not an issue, why not? The DM 4000.- honorar she would receive was certainly a draw – for it would help pay for her school.  What she wanted of life was to someday get married, most probably to her boyfriend Leo – a law student, and to live in a big vintage apartment in which to raise her children.

Not so Barbara.  Even though in long term she too aspired to be a mother of “many kids”, at that stage in her life she did want to indulge in whatever came her way, making the best of having become a Playmate and use it as the stepping stone.  To Dagmar’s introvert passive self, Barbara was dynamic and a “go getter”.

From that trip to Chicago, Barbara continued on to California, married Scott  and settled in San Clemente. Thus depriving Playboy of its promotional plans. But from there, she went on to become a professional model and the only Playmate I know of to have appeared as centerfolds  also in Oui  and Penthouse. For the latter, she did extensive promotion  during her reign as its Pet of the Month, and beyond,  .

Dagmar too didn’t do any promotion. Playboy Germany had made all sorts of plans for her. She was to appear and interviewed on TV, was going to be used for tons of promotional purposes, probably travel through the country and what not!  But soon as she left Munich, she had just plain disappeared from the radar. Though she did make sort of a splash in the press for being the first ever German Playmate, upon her return to Wuppertal, she became pregnant and by the time her issue hit stands in March, she was half way towards becoming a mother. I think it was around July that I received a card from her announcing the birth of her son Tristan. I am sure we must have spoken over the phone and exchanged a couple of letters before I sailed back to the States in September.  After that we lost touch with each other.

Barbara and I have somehow managed to stay in touch, if sporadically.  The life she has lead has been eventful and exciting, to say the least.  But that’s her story to tell – not mine. Except that she didn’t go on to have “many kids” – but is the proud mother of a grown up son, Klaus.

© Haresh Shah 2013

 Illustration: Jordan Rutherford

Next Friday, January 21, 2013

FACE TO FACE WITH GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ  

Tenth Anniversary Special

Next Friday marks my 10th blog post, a sort of anniversary for Playboy Stories. To celebrate, I am pleased to share with you a slightly longer entry – my encounter with the Nobel Prize winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude. One of the most memorable experience of my Playboy days. A classic example of why Playboy Interviews have become the standard against all other interviews are measured.

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