Denis Monette was a Canadian journalist who interviewed Dorothy after she became playmate of the year. I met him recently by email after he saw my site. He was kind enough to translate his interview into English for us. Denis is now a successful Novelist still living in Canada with his family.
Please enjoy this interview.

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Dorothy Stratten

”When I saw myself naked in the magazine,
I did not sleep all night!”

by Denis Monette

Many are called, but few are chosen. The Cinderella of this fabulous fairy tale never thought that overnight she would become the most envied girl in the universe; however this is exactly what happened when an agent for Playboy Magazine discovered her in 1978 in a modest Vancouver district .

Dorothy Stratten, who had just graduated from High School, was working as a secretary when the journey took place. When she was approached to try out for the centerfold of the popular magazine, the prudish young woman hesitated for quite a while before, closing her eyes to the consequences, she hesitantly removed the garments that were covering her goddess body.

Introverted, shy to excess, the 20 year old beautiful Canadian thought out her decision, kept it to herself, and then surrendered her nude body to the photographers who achieved on that day one of their best sessions.

Thinking that the adventure was over she was more than surprised to find out that she had been chosen by the judges to be: Playmate Of The Year. Out of the twelve contestants who had participated throughout the year, she is the one who gained the prize and all that was related to it. On that day, Miss Stratten became, without knowing it, the sex symbol par excellence, and with this image she had to consider her acting talent, and in effect by killing two birds with one stone, she added the glory of acting success to her worthiness. The Twenty-first one to get the annual title, it is the first time that a Canadian girl received it.

As she was crossing Montreal during her promotion, her local agent invited me to meet her, and trying to convince you that I hesitated would be a lie. I had seen the non-nude promotional photos of the glamorous playmate and wanted to find out what was deeply hidden in the heart of this... Alice in Wonderland! We finally met at the Four Seasons Hotel, where I conversed with this platinum Venus for almost one hour. I was expecting to meet an alluring Marilyn Monroe or an exuberant Jayne Mansfield, but I was more than pleased to find out that I was meeting a charming, humble, and very intelligent young woman.

Within the first seconds of the interview it was apparent that she was very shy and it took almost five minutes to draw her out in a natural dialogue. Lovely in white slacks and a matching turtle neck sweater, she was not wearing any make-up and her gracious hairdo had no other touch to it than her brush and fingers. We chatted as if we were both standing at a bus stop and the «yes» and «no» of the beginning eventually became sentences, and finally developed into a serious conversation.

* Did you hesitate a lot before accepting Playboy's offer?
- Yes, because I was very bashful to start with. I was also afraid of my family's reaction as well as the neighborhood's. I was also very skeptical toward these « doll-makers » as I used to call them. I had heard so much, wrong or right about girls that took the chance. I really had to convince myself that I had nothing to loose and everything to gain by making the step.

* Was it extremely difficult for you to undress in front of the photographers?
- I was shy so shy, more than it's possible to be. But I realized promptly that the photographers were not voyeurs, but professionals in their art, and that they had seen many others before me. At the second session, I was already more confident toward them.

* And when you finally saw yourself in the magazine, what was your reaction?
- I was very apprehensive; I was scared to be judged by everyone who knew me. As I was modest and chaste, and nobody thought the young Stratten would go that far, I did not sleep all night.

* How did your family react to the situation?
- For a moment, very surprised! But my mother looked happy about it, which reassured me. I said to myself: « If mommy accepts the situation, then the others may eventually too. »

* Do you have any brothers and sisters?
- Yes, one brother, John, who is eighteen, and a younger sister, Louise, who just turned twelve.

* How did they take the matter?
- My young sister was carried away to see me as a star! As curious at it may seem, she did not see the nudity, she only saw the fame, the celebrity that I was exposed to. As far as John was concerned, he was a little more hesitant about it and the only one to knit one's brows, but after a few weeks, he amended himself and told me, openly, that he was proud of his sister.

* Have you suffered the bad feelings of certain people?
- Mind you, I was expecting it, but it didn't happen. They talked about it, of course. They may have also said vile and nasty things, but nothing came to my ears. I had plenty of positive words from the entourage, and my family was never annoyed by anyone close to us or far. We are in 1980 now and I think it takes more than this to make a scandal these days. I think that this evolution in attitude has closed the door to people thinking or saying things that they might have in the older days.

By this audacious gesture, Dorothy Stratten coming down from her ivory tower, conquering her shyness, no longer retiring into her protective shell, was much to her surprise worth more than all the courses she could have taken from Dale Carnegie. “This drive gave me confidence in myself and I became full-bloomed. Then, I traveled a lot, I met many people; I surmounted my shyness or almost, and I have accomplished in one year what others would have done in ten years.”

* It was, as I could say, a door to life?
- A huge door! Did you know that I had never taken a plane before going to Los Angeles? I had never seen the white bed of the clouds from above and as soon as my foot touched the ground of the cinema city I felt that despite the tension I was fighting inside, I would go beyond mountains and valleys.

* This is when you met Hugh Hefner?
- Yes, and my legs were shaking. I was nervous to meet this great master of beauty. I heard he was arrogant but I discovered an exquisite person and a number one gentleman in him.

* Did you expect to be chosen Playmate of the Year?
- Not at all! Each month, I was looking at the other girls and I found them splendid. When they told me I had been chosen, I was really unhappy for the others.

* How did the others react in such a moment?
- Some of them congratulated me warmly, but a few others were upset. It's normal, though that there are a few who are hurt and envious, as each contestant sees herself at the top. I was told not to worry about it, that each year this always happens.

* Did you originally have acting talent or a natural disposition for it?
- Not at all. I never thought I would make my career as an actress. It is while studying the possibilities that they detected this talent in me. At the time of them first suggesting this to me, I said to myself that never I would reach that point. I was timid, dubious of my capacities, stammered, when, finally, I realized that I was able to do it.

* Are you at ease with... or satisfied of your image?
- Nobody is. Even if they think I'm perfect, I would like to correct many things because perfection does not exist. I am on a constant diet so as not to loose my shape; I take care of my hair and I study my appearance carefully and try not to be deceived by the passing years. I also train my body with repeated exercises.

On the way to a marvelous destiny, Dorothy Stratten does not forget that her heart comes first. Since she was young, she has always dedicated some time to poetry and often traces on paper the rhymes of her softer feelings. “I sometimes get up at night to write. I do not do it for posterity, but for me. It is very personal and it is, maybe, the only privacy that still remains to me, as the rest does not belong to me anymore.”

* Would you be, as I presume, a sensitive woman?
- Very sensitive. I cry easily and, the other day, on the Donahue Show, when a mother found her daughter after several years, it touched me so much that my tears mingled quickly with my mascara. I do not control my emotions.

* What do you think of the feminists? Those who condemn women who exhibit themselves as you did?
- Woman's Lib has done much good, but they should know where to end it. Beauty must be recognized and it is not the movement which will stop it. One speaks about exploitation of women, and I could say that as soon as a woman is in love, she is exploited. I do believe quite simply, that these women who protest on the street holding paperboards do not respect men, which is not my case. I never felt exploited, and the fact of being a sex symbol by no means deprives me of being respected. I also deplore that, by opposition, feminists have applied a brake to male gallantry.

* Do you regard yourself as a very current woman?
- Not totally. I would have liked to have lived in the 18th century, at the time of lace and sunshades. What a beautiful century it might have been when the waltzes reigned sumptuously; where one poetized in front of a flower.

* Are you in love?
- I was in love before crossing the step to this career, and the one I loved then followed me to Los Angeles.

* And what if, in spite of your success, he would still ask you to leave everything for him?
- A man who loves does not impose such conditions. It would be the proof that our bond was not the product love.

* Do you wish to have children one day?
- Well, sure; I love them! Five years from now, I will have one or two children because it is of primary importance for me to be a mother.

Born on a February 28 under the astrological sign of Pisces, Dorothy Stratten assures me, that even with fame, that she will never disapprove of these naked photos of her which were her springboard. Not being materialistic, she forgot to mention that this title had been worth $25,000 in cash, a Jaguar X-JS, a Kawasaki motor bike, a trip around the world, a $8000 fur coat, a 43 oz bottle of L'Air du Temps perfume in a Lalique container, etc... In short, $250,000 in price and value.

But all that counts for her is her career. Her first appearance in the movie Americathon eventually led to a prominent role in They All Laughed, starring with Ben Gazzara, Audrey Hepburn and John Ritter. A movie that will reach our screens this coming fall.

To all the girls who dream of following in her steps, the blonde Canadian of Dutch extraction advises the evaluation of oneself and the analysis of their own potential. “I ask the mothers especially not to block the desires of their daughters, and to understand them just as my mother did me. Indecency is a word which one should banish from the vocabulary when the heart is at the origin of those ambitions.”

When I asked her if at the point of ultimate glory she would forget all these interviews which she granted as a starlet, she answered me: “Not anymore than I will forget my childhood and the fact of having posed naked to get there.” With a gracious smile, she thanked me and I left, leaving her in the care of her charming lady companion, which did not want me to consider her as the chaperone. Good luck, Dorothy Stratten, and may your name be added to the credits of the celebrities.

Denis asked Dorothy to sign this photo for his son Michel.

She gladly signed it on the back in english and french!