A few years ago while working at “The Lido” in Paris, I saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Mesmerized by that famous smile, I found myself wondering about the model. Who was she? Did she have a story? How did she get there? Did she have any idea that by sitting as an artist’s model in Mr. da Vinci’s studio she’d become immortal? Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I might in some small way, identify with her. No, I don’t consider myself a modern day Mona Lisa but I did find myself honored by being chosen by renown artist, Jon Hul, as his model for his painting “Brandy”, which is being exhibited at the Arte Fino Gallery at the Venetian in Vegas.
So, who is “Brandy”? Well, show business is my DNA. My grandfather was born into a Royal Portuguese family and, against his family’s wishes, left for South America to follow his dream to become a show dancer. His sojourn as a performer gradually took him north, through Cuba where he ended up in Miami. By the time he landed in the USA, he was not only a performer but a choreographer and theatre impresario in his own right. In the late 1940’s he found himself producing a stage show at the famed “Troc” in Philadelphia where he met and married my Grandmother an accomplished adagio dancer from Germany by way of New York. They started a family and continued touring until they decided that life in a trunk may not be contusive for bringing up a young family. So they put down roots in Bensalem PA, a suburb of Philadelphia and opened a dance studio.
By the time my mother was sixteen years old she was a featured dancer in Ann Curio’s This was Burlesque and shortly thereafter, she found herself travelling the world as an adagio dancer.
At four years old, I earned my first paycheck as a performer—a princess in The King and I. I was destined for a life in Show Business. Although I found myself working as a dancer in all areas, (musicals, ballet, adagio, magic,) at nineteen years old, when joining the national tour of Sesame Street Live and I first set eyes on the bright lights of Las Vegas from an airplane window, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. My colleagues were less than enthusiastic –I was a good dancer but only five foot two inches. Las Vegas was the land of the showgirl, strictly 5’6” and taller. But, I wasn’t one to let mere mathematics dissuade me.
Thank God, because Vegas has been very good to me. I was cast as the “Queen of the Night” in Tim Molyneux ‘ s epic Bite—which lead to being featured on The Playboy Channel and E! News. All of this lead to a joint photo shoot project with Joe Krathworth (The Bird Man of Las Vegas) to save the wild horses of Nevada—animal welfare has been a lifelong passion of mine. Photographer, Jerome Hamilton saw the wild horse photos and I was signed as a swimsuit model for Chica Rica swimsuits.
Among my many engagements in “The City of Light” was as a featured dancer at “Sin City Comedy and Burlesque” at Planet Hollywood and “The V Show”. In 2010, I even produced my own show, ” Burlesque, the Show”. In 2013, producer David Saxe, submitted my photo to Sports Illustrated to represent his “V” show and I was cast in the swimsuit edition. In 2015, another dream of mine came true as when I was contracted by Playboy for “Playboys Sexy Selfies,”.
The sense of community that exists within the circle of those of us who work in the Las Vegas entertainment industry and its network, which stretches to the farthest reaches of our planet, has been a source of great encouragement to me. These mutually supported, professional and personal relationships have and will continue to sustain us as we navigate this challenging yet amazing life we chose. A case in point is how a “techie” friend and colleague with whom I’ve worked, suggested to Playboy artist Jon Hul, who’s past models include Pamela Anderson, Betty Paige, a bevy of Playmates and Hugh Hefner, that he see me dance. The rest is history and now his “Brandy” in on display at the Venetian’s Arte Fino Gallery.
As this dancer from Pennsylvania who followed her dream to Las Vegas looks at this painting, she finds herself contemplating if someone in the year 2516 might look at this masterpiece and wonder: Who was Brandy?