Everything you ever wanted to know about Vampirella, daughter of Drakulon

The Dark Side of Heidi Saha

The Illustrated History of Heidi Saha always seems to sell well, fetching prices from $600.00 to over $1,000.00 on sites such as eBay.

Apart from its rarity (reputedly only one hundred surviving copies or less) it is surrounded by mystery, myth and misunderstanding.

Heidi 1In fact, the whole Heidi Saha saga is enmeshed in controversy and misinformation. Certain sellers will promote the alleged salacious nature of anything related to Heidi to fetch a greater price. For example, Jim van Hines regularly sells a "candid" rear-end photograph of Heidi taken at a convention for exorbitant prices. This is probably the most "dubious" item in the whole Heidi Saha fable, and anyone willing to pay a lot of money for a copy of this photo must be a really sad individual.

Angelique Trouvere (sometimes known as "the other Vampirella" since she appeared in her Vampirella outfit at the same masquerade as Heidi in July of 1973) has had a unique opportunity to be privy to much of the Saha controversy and she is glad to share her knowledge to set the record straight.

Below is a reproduction of an "interview" she made with Ron Kasman in an online Blog.

Heidi 2RON: The way the magazine is often sold is disturbing. The magazine itself, and the memory of Heidi Saha, is even more disturbing.

When a copy was sold about a year ago, someone followed it up by trying to sell a photo of her, showing only the upper part of the photo, as though she was naked from the collar bone down. The language in the ad, and I will use that word again, was disturbing.

ANGEE: I saw that eBay ad and thought that the seller was wrong to lead the buyers on like that but then if a buyer bought the magazine strictly because he thought it contained a nude shot of a pre-teen girl, then he got what he deserved.

RON: Inside the magazine we find that she was the friend of Forrest J. Ackerman and James Warren. Her father was an SF editor at one of the big New York publishing companies.

ANGEE: Forry met Art Saha when Art was a young man and SF fan living in Los Angeles back in the 40's. Art and Forry were good friends and when Heidi was born in 1959, Forry consented to be her Godfather. Later Forry would join forces with James Warren when they published Famous Monsters in the 50's so there was a link between the 3 men through publishing.

RON: The magazine was produced and sold with the complete knowledge of her father, who used to take her around to the conventions.

ANGEE: Actually, it was Heidi's mother, Taimi, who was the driving force behind the magazine and poster. Warren talks about it briefly in "The Warren Companion" where he points out that she came to him with the idea and lots of photos of Heidi in costume. Her parents and again, mainly Taimi, wanted to make Heidi a celebrity or movie star and they felt that the professionally produced mag and poster would be helpful to that end. Warren then says that he did it because it was "his way of paying them back" for promoting a Warren property when Heidi would wear the Vampirella costume and appear in news articles and cons.

Heidi 3RON: In the magazine, Forest J. Ackerman comes off as less than dignified in the eyes of a modern viewer, in his attitude towards a girl perhaps 40 years his junior. Remember, this magazine came out in the early '70's. People looked at things differently back then. Society wasn't as concerned with the sexual exploitation of youth.

ANGEE: I would like to say that I've been friends with Forry for many years and I can vouch for his intense love for his wife, Wendayne. He was a flirt and a kidder but not unfaithful to her. His interest in Heidi was as a family friend.

Heidi 4RON: James Warren had previously published a poster of her dressed as Sheena the Jungle Girl. At one of the Seuling conventions in NY, Warren produced the program booklet. There was a space inside reserved for Heidi's signature.

ANGEE: This would come back to haunt the Sahas when it seemed to many that Heidi was appearing as Vampirella not as a fan but in a professional capacity.

At one point, Tom Fagan even referred to Heidi as " ...representing the wild world of Warren Comics...". When she won 3rd prize (a $25 savings bond, I believe) for her Vampirella, the crowd jeered her because it seemed to them that as a professional, she should not have been in competition with non-professional costumers.

RON: Again, to take you back a few decades, fandom at the time was 100% male except for Paty, Irene Vartinoff and Maggie Thompson. Any other woman at a convention was a dealer's wife. As a group we were physically unappealing. I don't know any other way to put it civilly and accurately. At these conventions, and there were very few at the time, the guys could be themselves instead of high school nerds that still read comics. We were becoming artists, writers, managers and publishers. Most of us did pretty well for ourselves over the years but those were tough times for kids who were into comics.

Heidi was a physically beautiful teenager who looked 14 or 15. She seemed completely out of place at the conventions. It seemed that her mere presence changed the mood of the entire dealers room.

ANGEE: Indeed! Heidi was stunning! She was tall and built! If you didn't know better, you wouldn't have guessed that she was 14 at the time of Vampirella (1973) and 13 and younger in the magazine. She was essentially a sweet and shy young girl who would rather be hanging out with her friends than parading around in a sexy costume and dealing with leering fan boys (and men).

Heidi 5I was in my very early 20's when I appeared as Vampi at that time and I was not fazed by that sort of thing. I welcomed the attention!

The story got out about her dad being an editor and that sort of explained it.

RON: Eventually, Creation Convention published a program booklet with a poem in it to the metre of "Stairway to Heaven" probably called "Taking her to the Convention" written by Manny Maris. It was a viscious, unfair and very funny attack on Heidi.

ANGEE: Actually, I wouldn't call it very funny although, the lines, "There's a girl that I know, who's mom has her for show, and she's bringing her to the convention..." are amusing.

RON: The last line of it (if my memory serves me well; it was over 30 years ago) was "Seidi... HAHAHAHA". I think that ended her career as the comicon glamour Queen.

ANGEE: Indeed it helped. To understand this better you must know that Maris added a cut out from a men's mag (Oui?) of a very young, half naked blonde girl (probably not much older than Heidi herself by the look of her). There was a drawn in g-string to cover her exposed privates but the pose was undeniably sexy and salacious. This was supposed to represent Heidi, of course.

I've heard two stories about what happened next.

One, that when Warren heard about it, he ended the promotions because he didn't want to be associated with that kind of attention.

The other was that when her father saw it, he hit the roof and finally realised what they were doing to their reluctant daughter and put a stop to the promos immediately. This was in the early part of 1974, ironically right about the same time that a small article on Heidi appeared in Playboy magazine's "Potpourri" section in the back.

By the way, Heidi was very happy to see the promotions end.

Heidi 6RON: I would love to be able to read that poem again. Does anyone have it?

ANGEE: I do have it. Please e me and I'll send a copy to you.

RON: Manny proudly showed it to me in a hotel room. After laughing for about five minutes, I commented that she was just a little kid who didn't deserve the attack. Manny said that she was a public figure, who had a poster of herself being sold in three national magazines (Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella). Like any other public figure she was subject to satire.

ANGEE: Phil Seuling was also a friend of Heidi's. She and his oldest daughter were good friends, and he was livid when he saw the poem and practically strangled Maris when he saw him. Phil banned Maris from all of his cons from then on.

RON: I recently told my wife about the poem and she was quite upset. Her reaction was, "She was spoiling the party,eh?" When I showed my wife the magazine she realized that it was far more complicated than that. She was being exploited by her family like a would-be Brooke Shields.

ANGEE: Ironically Brooke was six years younger than Heidi but as anyone can see, her mother, Terri, was extremely successful at her bid to manipulate her child into the spot light. By the way, there's even a "Brooke Book" that really is very shady.

Heidi 7RON: The guys at the conventions didn't want to idolise a kid in Grade Ten for her cuteness. I honestly think we viewed people more than "skin deep" and we wished to be viewed as more than that ourselves. We sure didn't want to be told to put her on a pedestal by Jim Warren, Forry Ackerman and her Dad.

ANGEE: True. There's more than a few photos of Heidi taken from angles that emphasise the sexier side of the outfit.

RON: The story goes, which I can't confirm, that Jim Warren printed 500 copies of the Heidi magazine as a trial balloon to sell at a convention. When it flopped he decided not to go big with a second printing and pulped the unsold issues. There may be under a hundred of these things out there today. I have seen them go for as much as $1,025. The cheapest I have seen one go for is just over $600.

ANGEE: Actually, I was told that when Warren's company was being prepped for the liquidation sale in 1983, that her parents quickly removed the remaining posters and mags before they could be sold.

I think what upsets me about the whole Heidi thing was that she was going through terrible emotional turmoil at that time but felt helpless to do anything about it. Her mother once forced her to dance in front of a gathering of comic professionals at a private party like some trained animal. Friends who witnessed that said that her discomfort was obvious to everyone except Taimi who was too busy playing the cassette recorder she brought with her and shushing the audience.

Heidi had a lot of potential but her parents desire for her stardom really messed with her head, and let's just say that we're lucky that she didn't die on us.

Click this link to see the poem that caused all the fuss and to hear Emanuel Maris' version of the story.


Heidi Saha