Known to her fan base from her glamorous years as Playboy’s Miss September 1963, and, as an actress, Victoria Valentino left Hollywood behind on a ‘healing odyssey’ after her 6 year old son drowned, soon followed by a devastating encounter with Bill Cosby. It sent her on a 12 year ‘walk-about,’ a way to rediscover her authentic self.
While exploring America, she acquired new families and two daughters who are the light of her life.
At 42 years of age, she returned to college for the second time on her healing journey, this time becoming a Registered Nurse and graduating with honors: Clinical Excellence Award in the area of Mental Health from Glendale Adventist Medical Center for her diagnostic insight. She has worked in home hospice with the dying and bereft. Her own intimate knowledge of grief and loss gave her the empathy and compassion her patients needed at their most vulnerable times of life.
While Victoria was working as a hospice nurse case manager in the mid-90s at 50 years old, she was invited to return to the Playboy glamour scene for their 40th Anniversary. She became a mentor for other women caught in their roles as sex objects, speaking about the miraculous ability of women to integrate their myriad facets if womanhood into one strong being without being locked into one role as a sex object.
She spoke about her own evolution from objectification towards self-actualization. She was interviewed in lifestyle magazines in Tokyo, fashion magazines in Rome and on American TV.
While she had been off living her own life healing and evolving, her image had had its own life, too. While gone her image had become a symbol of the Sexual Revolution- an accidental icon.
She stepped into the role with ease posing semi-nude at 54 in a Playmate Revisited layout controlling her own image for the first time.
Her writing was published in one of Playboy’s Newsstand Specials in 1995. She was paid the same amount of money for writing as she received for her centerfold in 1963 without taking her clothes off- and this time she also had control of her own money.
While it may appear as a contradiction, it was her way of completing her circle of healing from the earlier pain posing for Playboy caused her. Having been trained in live theater and a Screen Actor’s Guild member in 1966, becoming a Playmate had derailed her legitimate acting career and caused her parents to disown her.
She published a ‘fanzine’ for several years showcasing the centerfolds as real women beneath the skin image- and in January 2000 was chosen as one of the Top 100 Centerfolds of the 20th Century with several series of issued trading cards.
At 77 years old, she posed once again (clothed) in their second to last hard copy issue - “The Winter 2020 Equality Issue”- becoming the oldest woman to pose for Playboy since Jane Seymour.
She states that she is grateful to Playboy for giving her a platform to discuss objectification and her campaign for women’s empowerment. Forbes and multiple periodicals picked up her story.
For twelve years she hosted and produced a local TV talk show in Los Angeles interviewing women who had transformed their lives after adversity. She also hosted and produced a radio show on Pasadena City College Campus interviewing professors and alumni of the college who had followed their own dreams.
All the while she continued to work as a Registered Nurse, counterbalancing both careers.
She was in the midst of writing a Broadway style musical about her lifelong circle of former Bunny friends- ‘grandmothers with memories,‘ when suddenly she was thrust back in the media spotlight shattering her silence of fifty-one years breaking her silence and finding her voice as a Cosby survivor.
Since that day, her journey seems to have charted its own surprising and, ultimately, fulfilling course. Sought after by the press, Victoria has become one of the key spokeswomen to emerge from the large group of women who suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby. Her eloquence and innate intelligence has made her the “go-to” subject of myriad interviews around the globe, on television, radio and print.
“Over the years I've found healing and, hopefully, some wisdom worth sharing in my journey from Hollywood to New York, from the bayous of Cajun Louisiana to the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest and even from from posing as pinup to caring the dying.
But, I believe it’s my journey as a mother of daughters and grand-children that has brought me from my dark days as a multiple rape and human trafficking survivor to my fulfilling work now as a woman’s rights activist, educator, author and keynote speaker.
Sharing my life’s struggles and achievements with others has imbued those experiences with a sense purpose: To help women everywhere face their adversity and find a healing serenity and nourishment to live their authentic, creative lives.”