By Delilah Jones (aka Doris Gohlke)
Born in Germany during the height of World War Two, Doris Gohlke survived the horrors of allied bombing raids, and the complete annihilation of her childhood home, to find success in America as one of the most popular, and most photographed, pin-up models of the 1950s, posing for such acclaimed glamour photographers as Keith Bernard (of Bernard of Hollywood) and Russ Meyer (director of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). A statuesque brunette with a genuine, infectious smile, dark eyes that could be both playfully innocent or temptingly wicked, and an exotic presence borne from her European background, it is not hard to understand why Gohlke was such an in-demand model for magazines like Modern Man, Satana, Knight, Now, and Adam.
In her recent book, My Life Without Regret, Doris Gohlke presents
us with not just a wonderful visual scrapbook of her amazing career, but also delivers
a candid oral account of her life story, which is engrossing and never less than fascinating, and
at certain points quite harrowing. There isn’t a lot of structure
to the narrative of the book, with it coming off more like a free-form, stream-of-consciousness, extended spoken word piece. As stated in the foreword, Gohlke insisted upon this approach for the book, with her words being left exactly as is, save for any grammar or
spelling corrections. But it does flow in chronological order, and the style of the narrative does lend a unique tone to the book, and
actually serves it quite well, allowing Gohlke’s personality to come through
and really guide the reader on their journey into her world. The writing style also makes it a lot more personal and intimate, with the reader feeling at times like they are peeking inside a private diary, where no secrets have been hidden and every experience, good and bad, has contributed to Gohlke's personal strength and appreciation of life.
At over 200 trade
paperback pages, My Life Without Regret is heavily illustrated with many
wonderful black & white photographs, both candid and professional, taken of
Gohlke throughout her life. While it is wonderful to see the photographs of her
on stage performing, and those taken by professional photographers for magazine
covers and layouts, it is the more spontaneous and candid photos, snapped in
cramped backstage dressing rooms and on various vacations and road trips across
America, which are the most fascinating, capturing their moments in time with a
simple authenticity that makes the era seem so alive and palpable. It provides
a remarkable social document for that reason alone, regardless of the subject.