Cancun is really just an island, about nine miles long and only a quarter of a mile wide. Not much room to hide if you are a bank robber on the lam. But if you’re a hard-working model and all you want to duck are the F.T.D. man and the incessant ring of the telephone, Cancun is a haven where an attractive woman can forget the rat-race. Indeed, by the time she left Las Vegas after a recent modeling/public-relations assignment, Dona Speir had just about had it with the predatory urge of some uncouth men. She had just turned 21, but several years ago, puberty had been generous to her, giving her a woman’s body from which to view Saturday-morning cartoons. She had a 12-speed, supercharged, armor-plated juggernaut of a body when she wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. In the warm half of California where she grew up, however, there is a driving instructor on every corner. In the twinkling of a hormone, Dona became quarry. Determined to make some good out of her fortune, Dona enlisted in the Hollywood modeling corps, an elite group often dispatched to, ah, underdeveloped areas for special missions. That was why, when Dona returned from Las Vegas recently, she didn’t want to think about the opposite sex. “I was at this convention there for three days. I signed more than 2000 posters. Two thousand men went in and out of my life in three days. God only knows what they do with those posters. They put them in their garages, keep them in the rubber band for a year, I don’t know. What they’re looking for is the girl in the picture. So I portray that all day long and I joke around with them. It’s fun, because I can express a part of myself that most people don’t see.”
Because she has been at it for a while, Dona knows how to handle men. There aren’t many lines she hasn’t heard and not many she doesn’t have an answer for. You don’t choose Dona, she chooses you. “I think that’s how I manage to get a lot of work. I mean sometimes you just gotta trip ‘em. On interviews, especially, you’ve got to stand out in the crowd. How are they going to remember your picture from 44 others? I walk in and first thing I ask them as they’re looking through my book is, 'What are you looking for?’ And they’ll say, ‘Well, I am looking for this, that and the other.’ And usually, you know, they’re looking for a blonde! And I’ll say, ‘I can do that. I’ve done such and such.’ I just have to tell them up front to hire me!”
The youngest of six children, Dona has had some practice in calling attention to herself. “All of them were wonderful students in school and they all went to college and they all work in the dental profession, except my brother who’s in the Service. God, I knew I did not want to become a hygienist. All my sisters do it and my older brother was a lab man once and my brothers-in-law are in the business.”
Dona decided to buck the trend by being a terrible student, hanging out with a shifty crowd and engaging in acts of senseless rebellion. There were rumors she had something to do with the dismantling of two telephone booths.
What is verifiable is that she learned from experience. Modeling helped. It brought some discipline to her more or less shotgun approach to life. A turn as a volunteer in a drug-and-alcohol program helped too.
“That will get you grateful, yeah. And all of a sudden, you don’t have any problems. It was part of my therapy. My worst days are when the whole world revolves around Dona. When I can’t get out of myself enough to say, ‘Whoa, there’re other things going on!’ When I get in the, ‘I want, I want, I want’ syndrome, boy, I’m just miserable. And I’m real unhappy and I’m real unpleasant to be around. Being grateful helps me. Being grateful for what I’ve got.”
Part of Dona’s design for better living is, as we mentioned earlier, a self-imposed social hiatus. It was too much, the flowers, the dinners, the endless pursuits by endless suitors. It ceased to be fun. So she went to Cancun to thaw out.
“It’s not that I’ve had it with men,” she said when she returned home. “I’m just very content to be without one right now, very content, that’s all. You know what it is now? I just don’t give guys the control I used to. If a guy called for lunch before, it would be, ‘Oh, I can’t pass this up,’ but now I say, ‘I can’t. I’m staying in all day, watching television, and that’s the way it is.’ I’ve found that if I’m out looking for a man to get involved with, I’ll never find him. It’s when I quit looking that I trip over him.”
And what can she offer the lucky guy who trips her up?
“I remember one of my last boyfriends. When we started dating, I went over to his house one day. We didn’t really know each other that well. I walked in with a blindfold in my hand. I put it on him and spun him around a few times, then walked him out to my car and put him in. We drove for about an hour before I took him up into a canyon where I used to live. I walked him out into a field, and then I took the blindfold off. I had brought a kite and we flew it all afternoon. I like things like that, out of the ordinary. Not bizarre, just out of the ordinary. You know, a little bit of fantasy.” Yes, we know.