There is no song associated with the Quad Cities area. You won’t hear “I left my heart in Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline …” along the Iowa-Illinois line. But if there were such a song, Marlene Janssen would be the one to sing it. Of course, the song would have to be bellowed in Marlene’s car on the L.A. freeways - the only place she appears in concert - at high volume and at high speed. When Marlene split the Quad Cities for L.A. four years ago, it was in search of “something new.” But she was wary. She had heard that there were trolls in L.A. that abducted pretty young girls and turned them into mindless, soulless automatons. That, she pledged, would not happen to her. She was not going to change. She was right.
Marlene is country bred, strong and competitive. She can pop your mitt with a smoking fastball and flip a Frisbee with powerful grace. She’s a speed skater and a water skier. And when you point a cautionary finger at a recent bruise, she laughs, “I tried slaloming over four wakes and when I fell, the ski just came right behind me and smacked me in the leg. No big deal. It didn’t even hurt till the next day. I never feel a bruise until I see it; then I think, Gosh, that’s supposed to hurt, isn’t it? Luckily, I’ve never broken any bones - knock on wood. I’ve broken my nose, and that’s it. But that was just cartilage, playing volleyball.”
With a strength of character tempered in the heartlands, Marlene would frustrate any L.A. troll. In the Quad Cities, she saw simplicity and liked it. She had a garden and picked her own beans. She owned a goose, which she traded at the Seed and Feed for a goat that she walked on a leash. You know, the bucolic life. Then - bang! - she was drawn to glamorous L.A., with a three-year-old car, $120 and the call of destiny in her ear.
Marlene dipped a toe into modeling waters and found them pleasant. The modeling world thought she was pretty special, too. She has that effect on people. She likes them. You see that right away. And you learn that she puts thought into action.
There was the time when she dragged her girlfriend into a brawl to try to even the odds. “It was five guys beating up one guy. And I looked at my friend Bernie and I said, ‘Let’s go get 'em.’ So we hopped out of our truck and went over and started kicking and slugging and pulling hair. And when those guys saw two girls run up with their fingernails and flying feet, they ran. I could have gotten hurt, but it was the principle. Those guys were just not letting up.”
Although some would call it foolhardy, for Marlene it’s just caring enough to get involved. It is certainly not a big-city thing to do. Which only proves that she has survived the transition. The values and the moral fiber she took with her to L.A. have not faded. Certainly, she’s as gutsy as ever. That’s what it takes to keep the trolls away. In the ongoing battle between the country girls and the big cities, she is proving herself a formidable adversary. Our money’s on the bantamweight from Moline.