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A Classic Playmate and Actress on her Revealing (and Inspiring) Memoir — Naked Truth: The Fall and Rise of Dona Speir

By casual observation, there appears to be a revived interest in all things 1980s. Second Wave British Invasion music that dominated the airwaves for most of the decade has found a new audience among millennials, many of whom were born post grunge. In fashion terms, I curse myself for having discarded my collection of thin neckties from the 80s that would be all the rage today had I kept them. But beyond this general interest, there also seems to be a curiosity in the culture at large that is more than simple nostalgia, and seeks to understand the mindset of those of us who experienced the years from 1980 through 1989, that could shed some light on what makes us tick in 2019.

Not lost in 1980s allure is the glamour and decadence, most clearly displayed on the pages of Playboy magazine and the subsequent culture that surrounded late publisher, Hugh Hefner and his infamous Playboy Mansion. Who better to offer insight on that than Miss March 1984, Dona Speir, the pretty California blonde Centerfold, who parlayed her Playmate status into a series of campy action films that spilled over into the early 1990s.

In her memoir, Naked Truth: The Fall and Rise of Dona Speir, which was co-authored by Chris Epting, she delves into her own struggles with drug addiction and physical abuse and the prevalence of it in her personal and professional circles.

“People have been encouraging me to write a memoir for a long time, but the time wasn’t right,” she says, explaining that there were various factors at play in the past that have been since removed. “People are not only interested in what women have to say now, but they’re actually listening and responding to us.” Recognizing that now is the time, she began work in earnest on the book about a year and a half ago. That the scheduled release of her memoir also marks the 35th Anniversary of her Playboy pictorial, is more a coincidence of timing than of strategic planning, as she explains it, but it does bode well for promotional purposes.

Another barrier to writing sooner was her relationship to Bill Cosby. While she doesn’t paint Cosby in a positive light, it differs in some significant ways from the testimonies of those who brought him to court. “Bill was not only a part of my life, but my whole family,” she explains. Her book lays out some painful and difficult memories about which ever her own sisters knew nothing until Dona spoke out after Cosby was sentenced to prison last year.

It’s important to understand, however, that while the book offers a personal, behind-the-scenes exposé of the unique culture and atmosphere in which she ran, it’s not merely written to simply entertain. “I want people to know that there’s hope in the face of addiction and abuse for those who seek help and speak out” she goes on. “In the book, I do identify troubles signs and ways to deal with them.”

In recent years, Dona has been working as a Recovery Coach, Sober Companion and Interventionist. She’s actually been sober herself since the age of 23, which she says, was quite unusual at the time. “It made me a bit of an outcast among my peers because I was surrounded by it and didn’t jump back in.” Clearly that was a good thing.

Naked Truth: The Fall and Rise of Dona Speir is available now on her website and on Amazon. For more information about the book and to learn more about her work, visit: DonaSpeir.com

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Jack Raplee is a Queens native with over 20 years of journalistic experience covering industries as varied as entertainment, manufacturing, engineering and consumer electronics as well as hard news. Apart from writing, he has enjoyed additional exposure in radio work, standup comedy and modeling. While his career trajectory has brought him far and wide, living in places like Nassau, Bahamas; Sungnam, Korea; and Jackson, Mississippi he always seems to end up in his native NYC. Jack is currently working on a yet-to-be-titled book providing his unique perspective on his native Queens as seen from the table of a local diner.

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