Next Act for Gloria Vanderbilt: Racy Romance Novel

With a life worthy of a novel behind her, Gloria Vanderbilt writes bodice-ripper

ByABC News
July 21, 2009, 1:49 PM

July 21, 2009 -- She is, perhaps, best known for the iconic jeans bearing her name that were hugely popular in the 1980s.

Gloria Vanderbilt: fashion designer, railroad heiress, artist and socialite. And today, at 85 years old, Vanderbilt is still adding to her resume, most recently by publishing an erotic novel called "Obsession."

Vanderbilt said she didn't start out to write an erotic novel. "It just turned out this way," she said.

The novel is, to put it mildly, racy:

"Talbot goes to where the agitated Priscilla languishes on the grass and, brushing the aphrodisiac on his lips, leans toward her ...

"Turning my back, I'll bend myself forward over a chair, resting my arms on a seat cushion, as your hand slaps my ..."

Well you get the idea.

At recent book signing on New York's Upper East Side, the material had readers gasping.

"Have you started reading?!" exclaimed one reader. "I can't stop! It's wonderful. Very powerful. It's a very erotic, this book. I have discovered that on just the first three pages!

Vanderbilt, who recoreded the book for its audio release, seems to take delight in the blush-inducing passages. The book includes scenes involving whips and chains, spankings with hairbrushes.

"But everything's so elegantly done," said another reader. "It wasn't just any hair brush -- it was a Mason Pearson hair brush!"

That's a $150 brush, for the uninitiated.

Vanderbilt has no shortage of material to draw from. She was the only child of railroad heir Reginald Vanderbilt. She came into a fortune when he died from alcohol poisoning when Vanderbilt was just 15 months old.

Reginald Vanderbilt's death set off of one of the most scandalous custody trials of the time.

Gloria Vanderbilt's mother was discovered to have a female lover. As a result, she was deemed an "unfit parent."

In the end, young Vanderbilt was raised by her "icy" Aunt Gertrude and an overly protective nanny.