It's hard not to like Roxanne Pulitzer.
With her corkscrew curls and carbonated glucose giggle and Windex-blue eyes, she is irresistible. Irrepressible. Call her irresponsible. She'll take it as a compliment.
The 34-year-old former wife of Palm Beach socialite and publishing heir Peter (Herbert) Pulitzer -- whose 1982 divorce trial will go down as one of the more lurid splits in marital history, involving tabloid tales of cocaine and kinky sex ("I Slept With a Trumpet") -- is back in the news, having just bared all for Playboy in exchange for a chunk of coin that should keep her in the brass section for at least the next year.
Oh, Foxy Roxy, what more could you possibly want to reveal?
A lot, as it turns out. Mainly about her marriage, how her husband tried to transform her, Pygmalion style, into a Town & Country caricature, their uninhibited sex life, their use of cocaine, and how she wound up after the divorce with nothing but a black Porsche and the leotard on her back -- a Pawn in a Palm Beach Divorce.
"It was very tough," she says, lounging on her Washington hotel bed in tight jeans, an oversized cotton-candy pink shirt and pink anklets. Her chubby cheeks are kissed by the Florida sun, her earlobes pierced by diamond hearts.
"When I first started living with Herbert, I was 23. None of the women would talk to me."
She was residing in a trailer court, having just graduated from Palm Beach Junior College, when she met Pulitzer, who was 21 years her senior. His friends thought she was a gold-digger. Far more damning, she was an outsider, a former cheerleader from a small town in Upstate New York who still said things like "fer sure."
"You're younger," she explains. "Usually a little better looking. You didn't go to boarding schools. You're just shunned . . . Invitations would come to the house to him, Mr. Peter Pulitzer, and then, 'P.S. Please come alone.' I mean, I'm living with him now, and everybody knows I'm living with him!"
After their marriage in 1975, she says, the invitations came by the limo-load. The Pulitzers were the champagne couple, holding hands, giggling, acting like high school sophomores.
"We had a real marriage, and everybody was jealous of us . . . We represented too much happiness.
"I got along very well with the men. They loved me. But the women didn't. I got so sick of saying hello to people who wouldn't even give me the decency to say hello back. I'd purposefully go over and talk to their husbands. Not flirt with them, but let them other women think I was . . .
"I had my own game going. I was always amusing myself." She swings her legs in the air and flops on her stomach, slumber party style. "For instance, when I was married to him -- this is the strangest thing -- he loved hair. I know this sounds very strange. Hair everywhere, you know?"
"So I had hair, it must have been this long," she says, holding her thumb and index finger four inches apart, "under my armpits. Swear-ta-Gawd. He was raised in Europe. You have to understand this, so that's where it came from. But there was just nobody in Palm Beach that has hair under their armpits! . . .
"These men would say, 'Roxanne, you're a very attractive girl, but that hair!' So I'd look at them and say, 'I wasn't aware that I was going home and going to bed with you this evening.'
"I mean, that was my way of saying (expletive deleted). That's the only way you can live in Palm Beach and not end up in an institution."
At the same dinner parties, on the way back from the ladies' room, she would flash a little thigh or bare a breast. "It was fun! The same thing anybody does. Go up and put your hands on your husband's pants when nobody's looking. Doesn't everybody do that?"
No. But not everybody has slept with a trumpet, either.
"People really believed that," she says. "It was all such bull, those accusations. I think I was made out to be on the kinky side." She giggles. "I mean, what do you do with a trumpet?"
Roxanne Pulitzer told Playboy the couple invested in a huge collection of pornography and sexual paraphernalia. "We tried about everything," she giggles. "We had a great sexual relationship . . . I hate to say no unless I've tried something."
During the trial, her husband accused her of sexual flutters with a flock of characters -- the handyman, the French baker, a Grand Prix race driver and her closest friend at the time, Jackie Kimberly, wife of millionaire Kleenex heir James Kimberly.
Both Roxanne Pulitzer and Jackie Kimberly denied the allegation.
She in turn accused her husband during the trial of hauling in marijuana on his boat and sleeping with his daughter from his previous marriage to designer Lily Pulitzer (of pink and green print pants fame), charges Herbert Pulitzer just as heatedly denied.
"I don't know why he brought up any kind of sexual things about us," she says, "because I would have thought that was the one area where he was the most happy in our marriage, if you ask me . . .
"There was certainly never a dull moment."
She says now that her husband was possessive and extremely jealous.
"He went through a bit of a thing, I think, with male menopause," she theorizes. "He was very concerned I was going to leave him for a younger man. Obsessed with it! We never spent a night apart in our marriage . . .
"I was really that head over heels in love with my husband."
She says they were still in love during and after the trial, and continued their sexual relationship for two years after the divorce. They talked of reconciliation, but Roxanne says the relationship soured after she filed an appeal to win more frequent visitation rights to the couple's twin sons, Mack and Zack. The judge in the trial, citing her "gross marital conduct," awarded custody to Herbert Pulitzer, allowing his former wife to see her sons only a few hours a week.
If anything did Roxanne Pulitzer in, observers say, it was being Roxanne Pulitzer.
"I think she's too honest, really," says attorney Marvin Mitchelson, who has handled her unsuccessful appeals. "It's just telling the truth."
Why did her husband sue her for divorce?
"All I can think of," she muses, "is that he's an Aries. I mean, he's a hunter. And I think I'm that one trophy that's not on the wall."
She pauses. "I think I'm a person who has, in their heart, something he would like to have."
Perhaps Roxanne Ulrich Dixon Pulitzer found it hard to conform to the ways of the wealthy because she herself was not to the manor born.
"I think coming from nothing helps. I'd be worse off if I hadn't known what it was like to have nothing, that's fer sure."
Raised in Cassadaga, N.Y., a small town 60 miles southwest of Buffalo, she was the oldest of four children. Her father left her mother when Roxanne was 3.
"He never came back," she says quietly. "Never wrote a card or called. I haven't seen him since. I don't even know if he's alive." Her only memories of him, she says, are painful. "I remember him hitting my mother."
Her mother, who worked for the phone company, remarried years later. Roxanne, raised as a Baptist, went to public school, excelled in cheerleading and married at 19. "I desperately wanted to get out of Cassadaga."
She followed her husband to Florida, where he was a college student. The marriage ended a year later. Roxanne was already enrolled in Palm Beach Junior College, working on her tan and selling life insurance on the side.
Her only career goal, she says now, was to become a wife and mother.
That didn't take long. Her boss was Herbert Pulitzer's "insurance man," and she met her future second husband one night at a party.
It was not love at first sight. Pulitzer was living with another young woman, but he and Roxanne became friends. Over a two-year period, she says, "I fell in love with him."
The age difference was never an issue, although after years of therapy, she recognizes that he may have been the father she never had.
"I think he was a father, a teacher, a lover, a best friend, a mentor."
They married in January 1975. Although her husband's lawyer accused her of spending Pulitzer's estimated $12.5 million fortune faster than she could sign the charge slips, she says she "never had a credit card the whole time I was married. Nothing was in my name. It's not that I'm a naive person, it was just not a priority of mine. He bought all my clothes. I lived his life style."
There was a nanny for the twins, a cook, several houses, hairdressers who came to the house, spending sprees on Worth Avenue.
"In the first few years, I tried and tried. He wanted me to be this perfect hostess. He'd say, 'Pay attention to Jackie Kimberly.' "
She says the marriage lost some of its steam after the children were born. "I got a little tired leading totally his life style. He really wouldn't do hardly any of the things I wanted to do."
What Roxanne Pulitzer wanted to do, according to trial testimony, was stay out all night at discos, smoke marijuana and snort cocaine.
"I was 28 when we first tried the cocaine," she says now. "I think it was the first time for him also. That changed our life style, of course."
During the trial, Herbert Pulitzer admitted using cocaine during 1979 and 1980, but told the judge his young wife had forced him to participate in the drug taking.
Roxanne Pulitzer guffaws.
"First of all, nobody holds your nose to the spoon. Or the table. We all know that. When he took the stand and said, 'She made me. She's younger, and I'm trying to keep up,' I started laughing because I was this young, innocent girl from New York, and I could have said, 'He made me.' "
She did say a few things, however, that she now regrets. "Sure, I got right down there in the gutter."
Press her on the subject of her husband's alleged incestuous relationship with his daughter (which he heatedly denied) and she frowns. "I'm ashamed of myself. I really don't want to discuss it."
Threatened with the loss of her children, she says, "it's panic. I mean, you panic . . . It's a mother instinct and it takes over. At the end there, when you think you're losing, you'll do or say anything."
Perhaps make up anything?
"I think one very easily could. I think at that point, one is capable of murder, of anything. I want to tell you, after I lost those kids, suicide enters your mind, murder, revenge. You're capable of anything. Kill him, kill me, kill the judge, kill the witnesses that lied."
She drops her head. "You are just so hurt."
She says they might have salvaged the marriage if they had communicated better. "Because when it came time for us to fight, we didn't know how. We'd never really had a bad, bad time. Herbert would always say to me, 'I don't want to hear it. No fighting. I fought too much in my last marriage.'
"We should have been able to make it through this," she says quietly. "I think this is a storm that a lot of people weather. I don't understand why we didn't make it. People around us who had worse marriages than us -- I mean, talk about cheating -- made it! They're still married!"
She looks bewildered. "There was absolutely no reason for this divorce."
In December 1982, after 21 days of battle, the Pulitzer trial came to a close. Herbert Pulitzer gained custody of his sons and agreed to pay his former wife $2,000 a month for two years. She had asked the judge to award her alimony in the amount of $18,000 a month.
At the time the judge said her demands shocked the court, reminding him of Jerry Reed's country-western lament, "She got the gold mine, I got the shaft."
She sold her jewelry, which was worth about $60,000 but fetched only one-third that amount. She also borrowed money from her mother and friends. She lived in an apartment with no furniture, her clothes in boxes.
"I barely made it."
She says she's glad, though, that she no longer has to pretend to be something she isn't. She was on the verge, she says, "of losing Roxanne."
She got a job teaching aerobics, and now earns about $75 a week.
She says she has had the opportunity to marry other wealthy men, but has declined. She may write a book, based on the notes she has been keeping for the past several years but doesn't have a publisher.
"I can't tell you I have a burning desire to do something. I wish I did," she says. "I have to be interested in something."
A small smile. "Or someone."
She would like to have more children, but definitely out of wedlock. She would never want to go through the pain of losing them.
There are bouts of depression, she says, "but I'm really resilient. I'll get a good cry and then something will make me laugh. I pull myself up."
She agreed to pose for Playboy because the magazine not only gave her bags of money but total control. The only picture she objected to was the two-page spread inside.
Ironically, that was her sons' favorite. "They said, 'We love this red nightgown!' From the mouths of babes," she laughs. "They wouldn't even notice the pubic hair. They both wanted their own issues."
Her former husband, she says, did not react favorably to the nude layout and parody of the Pulitzer scandals. In fact, she says he recently cut her visiting time with the children even more.
"I think he lost his sense of humor. I mean, I thought it was funny."
As for her freewheeling interviews, "he knows that one day I would have gone ahead and spoken out. He would know me well enough to know I'm not the type to sit back or leave town. I'm not guilty. Why should I hide my head?"
Although the trial appeals are exhausted, Roxanne Pulitzer could still go back to court to ask for more visitation. "Public perception of her is very bad, but she's a good mother," says Marvin Mitchelson. "She's devoted to those twins."
Did Mitchelson approve of the Playboy spread?
"I don't think it would be proper to say what I advised her," he said from his Los Angeles office yesterday. "I did help her negotiate the terms."
Asked if it could hurt her case, the lawyer replied, "I don't think it's particularly helpful."
Neither might Roxanne Pulitzer's penchant for candidness. "There was way too much honesty back then. I was one honest little girl. I'm not nearly as open as I once was."
But she is still as sexually unabashed.
"It's going to be hard for him to replace me," she says with a sly grin. "That's the one thing I know fer sure."