From “Playmate” to “Inmate”

And just when I think I’ve seen it all, something or somebody always makes me re-evaluate myself. On October 17, 2010, I got a call from an attorney to visit a potential client at the Van Nuys jail. He told me that the person in custody was his friend of many years and wanted me to see if I could help her out. The attorney gave me her information and said that she’d allegedly shot her husband in the shoulder.  

I arrived at the jail and asked the jailer for the bail information on Victoria Rathgeb (also known as Angela Dorian). I told the jailer that I also wanted to visit her.  The jailer was surprised and told me, “You know what she’s done, right?”  I said, “Yes, I know she ‘allegedly’ shot her husband”. The jailer gave me the bail information and sent me to the visiting room. I waited there until Victoria was brought out to meet with me. I saw a 66 year old woman coming into the visiting room; she had shoulder length and wavy white hair. She looked very petite and fragile.  I’m sure she didn’t weight more than 100 pounds. But…what grabbed my attention immediately was the fact that she is very beautiful! I’ve visited elderly people in custody before, so I wasn’t surprised about her age, but once she began to talk to me and the way she carried herself; I knew then that she definitely didn’t belong in custody.

I introduced myself and we began talking. She told me that her and her husband Bruce got into an altercation; she showed me her bruises and marks on her forearms and also a few cuts on her chest and neck area. She said that they both had been drinking alcohol the night before. Then her husband approached her to hit her again, she grabbed the gun they kept in their room and claimed she didn’t remember anything after that. It wasn’t until the LAPD homicide detective Kevin Becker began to interview her that she realized what she had done. She told me that she had posed for Playboy when she was younger and had done a few movies. I honestly didn’t know who she was; I wasn’t even born when she was a Playboy Playmate in 1968. She actually wanted me to get in contact with Hugh Hefner to see if he could help her to bail out of jail. I finished talking to Victoria and then off I went to make call the list of people she gave me to call.

Victoria Rathgeb was arraigned in court for attempted murder on October 21, 2010 and transferred to the Women’s County Jail (CRDF) in Lynwood, CA.  On November 7, 2010, I went to visit Victoria at the jail and needless to say, that place is so sad. The jail is located off the 105 freeway towards near LAX. I exited the freeway and as soon as I did, I realized that I had entered a very dark and depressing neighborhood. I drove to the parking lot and finally went inside to visit Victoria. The building’s lights inside the visiting area were dim and the walls of the place are painted white but with the poor lighting they look grey. The floors were literally just cement. What? No tile flooring?!?! The visiting area was full of families with lots of small kids. I found the elevator and as soon as I entered, I was overcome by a foul smell, gosh! I almost barfed! I couldn’t get off fast enough! I think I ran out of the elevator! I finally got to the interview room and waited for Victoria until they brought her out.

I’m a bail agent, but sometimes I become a counselor or an advisor. I listen to the inmates concerns, family issues, previous life experiences, and after all of those roles, I have realized that we are all connected somehow… It’s still amazes me every time I go inside an interview room, pick up the phone and hear the other person’s perspective. At this point, I’m the only contact that they have with the outer world. On this particular day, I expected to find a depressed 66 year old ex-Playboy Playmate, who after a life of fame, wealth, popularity, beauty, etc., was now in jail for attempted murder on her husband. Yeah, the media talks about that, but there are always two sides of the story! I saw with my own eyes the very first time I met with her, her injuries on her arms, the bruises and cuts she had. Don’t get me wrong, her husband almost died, but nobody else other that the two of them, know what really happened in their home on that night. We’re shouldn’t try to judge.

Victoria was finally brought in, and when she saw me, she smiled from ear to ear! She looked so healthy, relaxed, mentally well, and joyful. I was like, “What?”… This must be a joke! I was expecting someone depressed! We began talking and even though she hadn’t seen me in a while, she remembered me. She told me that since she’d been in jail; her jail mates were very kind to her, that she was getting the right medications, she was attending therapy groups and she was getting clean and sober.  Sometimes, we as people just need time to heal, to get stronger, and to take that opportunity to change our lives or our behavior or both.

She also told me that they were so many wonderful people, complete estrangers, who had put money on her books.  She was visited by several movie producers and book editors because they were interested in her story, in fact she was writing a journal while in custody.  At the same time she remained well aware that she was going to do some serious time for what she’d done. She looked so happy I couldn’t believe it. I guess in jail, she’d finally got away from the person and the situations that were making her life spin out of control. She then sang to me in Italian!!! She showed me that at 66, she can stretch her leg as high as her head. That was really cool! I wish I could do that!!! I had such an awesome time conversing with her; she shared life experiences that I have also gone through myself. Once again, this is the part where we are all connected at some point. By the time we finished our conversation, my heart felt so happy, I had shared some laughs and jokes with someone that needed them…I’m still trying to decide whether it was her or me that needed that experience. 

I walked away from the interview room and headed back to the elevator, dreading the thought of getting in it again!!!! Disgusting!!! I got in my car and suddenly I felt a deep sadness, the location of this jail alone would bring anyone down. I’d been inside so many jails; I thought I was immune to this stuff already. But I was so shocked to see how much the life in this jail affected me. Homeless people sleeping under the freeway, the projects, the streets with pot holes, small kids at the waiting lobby, strollers, and babies crying…Gosh I felt like crying too! I realized that I have opportunities to meet with others at different stages in their lives and try to make a difference. I took a moment to thank God for giving me the life I have and for putting these experiences in my path.

I did actually try to get in contact with Hugh Hefner last year; I was literally planning to camp out outside the mansion until he would let me speak to him. But Victoria’s best friend Francis had already contacted someone at Playboy Enterprises. Francis told me that Hugh Hefner was not interested in helping Victoria out. I’m pretty sure that if Victoria Rathgeb had been a 22 year old blonde with double “D’s” breast implants; instead of a 66 year old ex-Playmate, he would have helped her, right?

In the end, Victoria Rathgeb pled No Contest to attempted voluntary manslaughter in Los Angeles County Superior Court on September 7, 2011 almost a year after her initial arrest. On September 29, 2011 Victoria was transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, CA. to serve a 9 year sentence.   She never was able to make bail. At best, barring some serious medical development, she will not get out of prison until after her 70th birthday.

I just wish that everyone who is in an abusive relationship would have the courage and pack their bags and leave their abusive partners immediately! I can relate to Victoria’s story, since I was myself in a very abusive relationship for many years. Some ask why we stay in those bad relationships. Well, we are scared of the unknown, plain and simple! We think that with time we can fix the problem. Maybe Victoria got fed up with the verbal and physical abuse her husband was putting her through and took matters into her own hands and maybe that was wrong. But notice that the media doesn’t mentioned anything about what Bruce Rathgeb had done to his wife Victoria? He is just a poor guy who got shot. I saw with my own eyes the bruises on Victoria’s arms and the cuts on her neck and chest area, nowhere in the news was that mentioned. I’m very sad that Victoria didn’t leave her husband Bruce sooner. In my opinion, Victoria deserves to enjoy her retirement years in the comfort of her own home and not at the women’s state prison.

Victoria Rathgeb also known as Angela Dorian. Playboy Playmate in 1968. She is now serving a 9 year sentence at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, CA.

Nancy Tiscareno – Super Bond Girl

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