Thursday, February 22, 2007


She was born Vickie Lynn Hogan but she was never happy with her own identity. She changed her name to Nikki Hart and got kicked out of high school for fighting. She changed her name again and eventually became a famous model for Guess? jeans. But the name she wanted most, from childhood on, was Marilyn Monroe.

But before she became famous, she worked as a waitress at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken in Mexia, Texas, and married for the first time. She was 17, he was a 16-year-old cook. To make ends meet, she worked at Wal-Mart, danced topless and mailed naked photos of herself to Playboy, hoping to be noticed. The marriage didn't last but they had a son, who later died at age 20 of an accidental overdose of methadone and anti-depressants.

All she seemed to know for sure was that her body would be her ticket out of Texas. She was most famous for her breasts, which were described in no lesser journal than The Economist as follows:

"There were only two of them, but they made a whole frontage: huge, compelling, pneumatic. They burst out of tight red dresses —preferably red — or teased among feather boas, or flanked a dizzying cleavage that plunged to tantalising depths. These were celebrated, American breasts, engineered by silicon to be as broad and bountiful as the prairie. With them, a girl from nowhere — or from Houston, Texas — could do anything. The body behind them waxed and waned, sometimes stout as a stevedore's and sometimes almost waif-like, matching the little-girl voice; but the Breasts remained. 'Everything I have,' she admitted, 'is because of them.'”
She became Playmate of the Year in 1993. In her questionnaire, she confirmed her ambition to be the new Marilyn, and in a dozen ways, from the blonde curled hair to the bright red lips to the gorgeous pouts and poses, she was. But while Marilyn spent her whole life in search of her own identity, she spent her her whole life trying to be someone else's. She couldn't have picked a better named brand with which to associate herself than Guess?.

She worked the gentleman's clubs in Houston, dancing for ancient oil tycoons in the half-dark. She married one of them in 1995, tying the knot at the White Dove Drive-Thru Wedding Chapel. She was 26, he was 89, and the famous breasts were barely contained in white satin. When he died, he left her nothing in his will, an outcome she never believed or accepted and spent the rest of her life contesting.

Unlike Marilyn, she was not favored by high-profile politicians, intellectuals or superstar athletes; she was too much the tabloid queen for that crowd. In later years, she was seen more and more in black. She often looked beautiful in it, but rarely happy. Last September, she had a daughter by no certain father and then lost her ill-fated son, all within three days. Five months later, she collapsed in a hotel room at an Indian casino in Hollywood, Florida, far from the real Hollywood. Her cause of death is still unknown.

But in her young, lonely death, she was not far from the great name she had longed to be. It's now known that Marilyn Monroe had spent her whole life trying to find herself, asking repeatedly, "Who am I?" She spent her whole life asking, "Can I be her?" In the end, both died dreadfully lonely and unhappy amid the relative splendors of their relative successes.

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