Vivian Ventura - age 30, beautiful, dark, mysterious-looking. Vivivan Ventura - actress, model, hostess. Vivian Ventura - plaintiff in a scandalous paternity suit splashed across the pages of London's tabloids for months. Vivian Ventura - reputed playgirl, friends to importantand powerful men, the papers say, men like Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, recently ousted playboy premier of the Seychelles James Mancham, Jordan's King Hussein. Vivian Ventura - consort of Super-Arabs.
She lowers her eyelids demurely. "Oh, it's all so ridiculous," she says, obviously quite pleased. "People thing I'm always having fabulous men."
Vivian Ventura is still upstairs dressing at the appointed time of the evening interview so her houseguest, actress Valerie Perrine, answers the door of her tiny row house in Chelsea. While Vivian is still making up another houseguest appears, a woman in her late 50s with short, blond hair, tight blue jeans, knee-high bootsa and a mink battle jacket. It is international jet-setter Princess "Honeychile" Hohenlohe.
They make polite conversation for a few minutes until Vivian descends perfectly made up, dressed in a cloud of pink silk, her perfect breast misted by her blouse, her long dark hair braided to her shoulders. The two ladies disappear to the kitchen to make tea, and Vivian reclines on several large pillows on the fllor of her living room, decorated in Middle Eastern motif. Shortly afterward her two faughters, Scheherazade and Jasmine, appear in their bathrobes with their Spanish nanny to say goodnight.
When they leave, Vivian puts some romantic records on the phonograph, settles into a comfortable position and talks enthusiastically about herself and her life.
She is half Scottish, she says, and part Turkish and part Spanish or "Sephardic" as she likes to say.
She was raised in Colombia, South America, went to school in England and at age 16 got a contract from 20th Century Fox and went to Hollywood to become a movie star. At 17 she married a producer and was quickly divorced from him after having her first child. During that time she says she starred in "High Wind in Jamaica" with Anthony Quinn, "Promise Her Anything" with Warren Beatty and "Lord Jim" with Peter O'Toole, among the 15 films she eventually made. "Then at 25 I retired," she explains. "I felt I just as dreadful as the other. I kind of live for perfectionism, so . . ." and she shrugs.
It was at that time she became involved with a "cash millionaire" he was high-powered young English banker John Bentley - who she claimed was the father of her second child and whom she took to court to prove it.
They broken up and for the past five years, Vivian has been on her own - giving and organizing parties, traveling, doing free-lance publicity work and arranging celebrity trips for tourism bureaus of various countries.
And during this time she has become friendly with the Arabs.
She had already made the connection years before when she became friends with Adnan Khashoggi, the fabled Arab entrepreneur."I've known Adnan Khashoggi for 12 years," she says. "He's incredible, a wonderful human being. I came to Washington for President Ford's inauguration with Khashoggi. We had real first-class treatment. We met Walter Washington."
It was through Khashoggi, she says, that she first went to Beirut. "Through him I started learning the habits of the Arabs," she says. "I liked what I saw. That was long before the oil boom."
And then, several years ago, she took a trip down the Nile. "I loved Egypt," she says. "I believe I'm the total reincarnation of Netertiti."
That trip, she says, "actually changed my entire life. it made me realize that one should return to basics. With all this jetting around, one does sort of lose touch. Now I make it a thing to make two trips a year under extraordinary places."
Through that trip through her jetset friends who move in and out of London, through her winter trips to Morocco, her summers in Marbella and her frequent trips to Paris, she began meeting a lot of sophisticated Arabs.
"I've always liked them, always been friends with them ever since they've been 'in'," she says. "I remember my friends saying that if you're having any Arabs to dinner, forget it. Now the same people can't beg me enough to have them over with my Arab friends."
"It could be," she says, "that I have an affinity for the Arabs and obviously since the oil boom everything has changed financially for us in London. The Arabs are totally different. They have different customs. I find it all very fascinating. I have been studying Arabia recently. I have a teacher come to my house every day for two hours recently. Unfortunately, though I speak fluent English, French, Spanish, Italian an d German, Arabic is one of my less fluent languages. But I certainly speak it well."
"I love Khalil Gibran," saus Vivian. "He is one of my favorite writers. And the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is absolutely by bible. I'm very ethereal. I love fantasy and I'm into mysticism."
Vivivan thinks that one of the problems the Arabs are having in London is that "basically the English are snobs. It is deep-rooted in them. They colonized three-fourths of the world. So I'm very glad to see the Arabs here. They have saved the economy, although," she says with a slight wince. "I think the prices have gone up because of them. Everything is a lot more expensive than it usedto be."
"You know," she says, warming to her subject, "there are very few permanent Arabs here in London. All the women try to get pregnant in the fall so that they can come here in the summer and have their babies. The Arabs men are all big doers, big businessmen. They're on the move. I like them. I really do. They're so polite and they treat women very kindly and very generously. That's their tradition. We have no right to put it down."
She becomes somewhat heated now. "The Arabs believe that our way of life (for women) is sinful, disgusting, liberated. To them, they are the ones who are civilized. They point to all this marriage and divorce and children of broken homes. And look at the mess we're in. The Arab men have four wives, all equally treated, all treated at the same sralevel, all the women are on the same standing. Don't you wish you could live that way, that it could happen in our society?"
She is sitting up now, her eyes wide with excitement, as hes gets more and more wound up. "You know, monogamy is a bad state for men. In the ory it is great but in practice it doesn't work."
"The point of the whole thing is to keep the man's temperament happy. And women just don't mind monogamy."
Now she falls back on her pillows and looks dreamily away, drifting off into her own reverie. "I wish I had a husband I could spend the day getting ready for. It's a man's world whether we like it or not. I hope it will remain that way. I long for a man to take care of me. Someone like Sheik Yamani. Why that woman's husband is one of the most powerful men in the world. Why should she ever want to be anything other than his wife? If I had a husband like that I'de be on my bended knees to this man."
She says that basically she likes very strong, powerful men. "I find that very attractive. I'm a pretty strong person myself. But I like to be able to feel weak. I like men in important places. I admire people who finally get somewhere. I relate to it. Notoriety, to be famous, it all works into one shell I like does, goers. I'm a very loyal friend. Even people who've had a bad break professionally. I'm loyal to them. I remember what they were."
"It's been four years, five almost," says Vivian, "since John Bentley and I broke up. I've never latched on to anyone.I've never been in love since. It's very difficult to fall inlove. I've obviously had sort of romances since then. I guess I-ve really kept busy. It does get lonely at night.
"It doesn't matter how many people toast you and invite you left, right and center. I see a lot of movie people although a lot of them, unfortunately, have emigrated to the State for tax reasons. A lot of my wealthy English friends.have left the country. So I do have lot of Middle Eastern friends. But I don't think I'll get married. That doesn't seem to work either.
"Any man who wants a serious relationship with me has to see a psychiatrist. I have two children, I'm 30 years old and I'm very difficult. I don't know what's going to happen to me. Basically I'm very Middle Eastern in my family thing. My brother, who's 27, lives with me and runs the house. I'd love to have six children and keep everything together."
But that doesn't seem likely to happen to her any time soon and she seems resigned to it.
She grows quiet for a moment, then as though trying to infuse her body with renewed energy and optimism, she returns to her favorite subject: Arab men.
"What I like is their training to treat women. You can't just push that button on and off."
But she can't shake off her gloom. She looks up dejectedly and says, "They rarely end up marrying European women, though."