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Culture

The Barbie Doll Diaries

Verona, Naddel and Jenny - three names that ring a bell with any German - have proved sex appeal, a bit of ditziness and absolutely no shame can take you far on the path to fame.

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The girls from left to right: Verona Feldbusch, Nadja "Naddel" Abd el Farrag, Jenny Elvers

They are the delicious bits of arm candy accompanying Germany’s celebrities and athletes to galas and premiers.

Naddel, Verona and Jenny, names most Germans recognize in an instant. Within seconds, most Germans can give you their life history, their climb to prominence or their latest scandals as reported by Germany’s boulevard press.

Nadja Abd el Farrag, Verona Feldbusch and Jenny Elvers, the three queens of a million dollar empire Germans refer to as the "Luder Business."

The word Luder doesn’t have a direct translation into English. The words, floosie, bimbo and ditz come to mind. But those labels mis-characterize the three.

Verona, Jenny and Naddel are masters at selling their charm and, um, assets. Through their shameless exploits and endless sex appeal they, and other, lesser luders, have kept Germany fascinated through the sometimes depressing post-reunification years.

They get photographed at the right parties, on the arm of the right celebrity and reveal every detail of their private lives with German prominents. Their exploits are breathlessly splashed across the front page of Germany’s king of tabloids, the 5 million circulation Bild.

The women keep open diaries, sell interviews for thousands of dollars and make well-publicized appearances on Germany’s early and late night talk shows.

"Everyone can identify with gossip and stories, it makes them forget their own unhappiness," Elvers, 28, said in a recent interview with Germany’s Max magazine, in explaining the phenomenon.

The Queen Mum

The blond bombshell got her big break after winning a beauty contest at the age of 18 and catching the eye of a Japanese construction tycoon with a German fetish. He invited her over and before long she was filming Japanese TV ads. After returning to Germany soon after, Elvers tried her hand at acting and failed.

Resolute to find her way back into the spotlight, Elvers hit the party circuit, eventually finding her way on to the arm of the right players. Her liaison with German TV star Heiner Lautenbach thrust Jenny into the tabloid limelight.

It wasn’t long before she landed on a TV show, hiked up her skirt a little too high and sent ratings and herself soaring into Luder stardom.

"I am the queen mum of all Luders," she said in the Max interview.

The interview was accompanied by new naked photos of Elvers, shortly after giving birth to her first child by Alex Jolig, star of the German reality show Big Brother. During her pregnancy, Elvers kept an expensive open diary in Bild in which she was allowed to express her deepest thoughts.

Among other revelations, Elvers gave tips to expectant mothers and voiced concern about the increasing size of her chest.

Large breasts are perhaps a Luder’s biggest assets.

In Naddel’s case those assets weigh out to 2700 grams, or more than 7 pounds, according to measurements she allowed conducted on a German TV program last November.

The Bohlen factor

The former model rocketed to Luder status through Dieter Bohlen, one of Germany’s biggest pop stars. The perpetually-tanned, seemingly out of plastic constructed 47-year-old singer/producer is perhaps the pin that makes the Luder Wheel go 'round.

Both Naddel, 36, and Feldbusch used the Bohlen ball to roll to fame. Feldbusch struck gold after a shotgun Las Vegas marriage with Bohlen ended 4 weeks after it began in 1997 and Naddel achieved similar results as the woman who moved in before Feldbusch ever moved out.

"Dieter can’t live without me," Naddel said at the time. Plus, she added, she can cook well, a fact she turned profitable by publishing a cookbook last year. Naddel has suffered a public set-back recently as rumors of her cocaine consumption have forced her to undergo an examination by a Hamburg doctor. Bild promises to keep everyone up-to-date.

Feldbusch’s gloss has yet to be tarnished by such rumors. In fact, Feldbusch appeared to strike a sympathetic chord among her fans after breaking down in tears on a German talk show last year.

Feldbusch, who polls show 68 percent of German men would like to spend an evening with, tearfully recounted a bit of domestic violence between her and Bohlen during their all-too-short marriage.

"The blood squirted like a fountain, I had a cut that needed eight stitches, a shattered ear drum and a serious concussion," she said on the Johannes B. Kerner talk show. To which Bohlen replied: "All lies."

Bohlen and many others say the marriage brought Feldbusch, 33, from relative obscurity as host of a cult erotic talk show into mainstream fame.

Luder fame.

The emancipated spinach pitchgirl

Nowadays Feldbusch hawks, among other things, frozen spinach. She is roundly adored for her looks and her poor command of the German language, something German feminist Alice Schwarzer took issue with in recent a "television duel" between the two.

"You play the available woman with a camera between her breasts," said Schwarzer, referring to a Sony ad featuring Feldbusch. "Even prostitutes ... don’t get paid as well as you."

Feldbusch appeared nonplussed. "I gladly play the Barbie card," she said. " I have no problem with that."

Neither do the millions of Germans who tune in daily to watch her and her colleagues play it.