Swanson cavorted in slapstick short films with Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett in the 1910s. The popularity of her films with Cecil B. DeMille helped create the star system. A glamour icon, Swanson became the most talked-about star in Hollywood, earning three Academy Award nominations, receiving 10,000 fan letters every week, and living up to a reputation as Queen of Hollywood. She bought mansions and penthouses, dressed in fur and feathers, and flitted through Paris, London, and New York engaging in passionate love affairs that made headlines and caused scandals.
Frustrated with the studio system, Swanson turned down a million-dollar-a-year contract. After a wild ride making unforgettable movies with some of Hollywood's most colorful characters--including her lover Joseph Kennedy and maverick director Erich von Stroheim--she was a million dollars in debt. Without hesitation she went looking for her next challenge, beginning her long second act.
Swanson became a talented businesswoman who patented inventions and won fashion awards for her clothing designs; a natural foods activist decades before it was fashionable; an exhibited sculptor; and a designer employed by the United Nations. All the while she continued to act in films, theater, and television at home and abroad. Though she had one of Hollywood's most famous exit lines--"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"--the real Gloria Swanson never looked back.
Once the sought-after video girl, this sexy siren has helped multi-platinum artists, such as Jay-Z, R. Kelly and LL Cool J, sell millions of albums with her sensual dancing. In a word, Karrine was H-O-T. So hot that she made as much as $2500 a day in videos and was selected by well-known film director F. Gary Gray to co-star in his film, A Man Apart, starring Vin Diesel. But the film and music video sets, swanky Hollywood and New York restaurants and trysts with the celebrities featured in the pages of People and In Touch magazines only touches the surface of Karrine Steffans' life.
Her journey is filled with physical abuse, rape, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and single motherhood—all by the age of 26. By sharing her story, Steffans hopes to shed light on an otherwise romanticised industry and help young women avoid the same pitfalls she encountered. If they're already in danger, she hopes to inspire them to find a way to dig themselves out of what she knows first-hand
to be a cycle of hopelessness and despair.