‘I Feel Loved by People in New York’

Elle Eklund came to Manhattan from London last year for a vacation, met a Wall Street guy, moved in with him, broke up with him, and, two months ago, got a three-year worker’s visa and an apartment in midtown. Now she was seated on a couch at Asia de Cuba, a restaurant in the Morgans Hotel on Madison Avenue. She was wearing a pale blue tank top, matching Capri pants, Moschino heels and pink polish on her toenails.

“Sometimes I feel like a fish in a bowl and I’ve got all these people staring at me!” she said over hysterical merengue music.

“Why?”

“If I was totally honest-other people would say it’s the way I look. I think there’s a lot of beautiful women in New York, so it’s not that. I think it’s my personality. I really do! Maybe I’m approachable. And I think the accent helps. People love the way I speak. I go to a bar and people are like, ‘Go on, talk some more, talk some more, please, talk more!’”

Ms. Eklund, a busty peroxide blonde, has a voice like a helium squeak, with an accent somewhere north of Liverpudlian scouse. She has a healthy interest in sex and won’t allow herself to drink alcohol, for fear of what might happen. Right now, she seems to be parading herself in front of all New York, hoping that someone will discover her and make her some kind of star, maybe set her up with her own talk show. Her idea is that she could do nutty and ribald activities with various celebrities.

She produced a photograph of herself. “Look when I was a little baby! My dimples were so big, my friends used to try to fill them up with water! Everyone asks me here if they’re surgically done. They’re huge!”

Her Diet Pepsi arrived.

“People see me and they think I’m a little sex kitten,” she said. “When they look at me, the only thing they think of is sex. This is where I have the biggest problem. I feel like I’m the only surviving woman in New York or something. It’s crazy! I have to live in a doorman building. I have to. Men just all follow me. I can’t believe it! And when you go to the toilet, they follow you downstairs or something. The only times I get really frightened is when they won’t stop following you. I’ve heard people go, ‘Who is that? Who do you think that is?’ I once went to a fortuneteller, because people all the time were saying, ‘I know you, I know you,’ you know? And she said, ‘That’s because one day people will know you.’ But when they follow you, they might try and grab you, like grab your bum, you know. Men just discreetly touch you, right, and they pretend it’s not them! New Yorkers are far from shy. I asked a policeman once for directions and then he, oh my God, he questioned me about my boobs, whether they were

real or not. He went, ‘They’re big, aren’t they?’ Ha-ha! ‘Are they real or not?’ I went, ‘Yes, they are, actually.’ ‘No, they’re not.’ This is a policeman! I said, ‘I’ve only asked you for directions and you’re supposed to, like, uphold the law and you’re just like all the bloody rest of them!”

Ms. Eklund said she grew up working class in Kent, England. Her father left before she was born and her mother worked as a cleaning lady. After high school, she worked in a civil service typing pool, then tried modeling. She appeared in a publication called Girl About Town and in TV commercials for a teeth whitener and Braun hair care products.

She believes she knows why she gets hit on so much. “You know what it is? One of my ex-boyfriends commented on, put it in a sentence: ‘You’re a child in a woman’s body,’ and I think that’s like Marilyn Monroe, because I think she was very childlike, too. My local corner shop, if I don’t go in there for a couple days, they come to my doorman and say, ‘Is Elle, is she all right?’ I feel loved by people in New York, and I’ve always wanted to be loved. It doesn’t matter where I go. It’s an unspoken thing, isn’t it? They say certain people have a certain air about them. I can literally be in a room with supermodels and at the end of the night, all the men are talking to me!”

She gave another example of her unique sex appeal.

“A President of a country called me up, and you know-”

“Bill Clinton?”

“Ha-ha! No, I’m not sure if he was a president or a minister, but I was basically offered a million dollars for three months of my life, which at the time, I turned it down. At the time, I was going out with a car dealer! A car dealer! And I turned him down! Can you believe I did that?”

“Which country?”

“It was in the Far East. I was just out one night. He could have been a local taxi driver for all I knew. The funny thing is, a lot of guys I’ve told that to say to me, ‘Bloody hell, I’d have a sex change for that!’ Ah-ha-ha-ha!”

There have been other offers recently. Phone numbers from window washers, guys in cars following her cab. She said comedian Eddie Murphy once called her mother at 3 A.M., looking for her. Martin Landau was after her the other night and Michael Douglas talked to her once about her acting lessons.

Even her boyfriends have gone overboard at times.

“They would stalk me,” she said. “At one point, I had a really obsessive boyfriend. It was ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will!’ And as I came out of my house, he pourred paraffin oil all over me. I don’t know what you call it here. Like petrol, and then he stood there with a match. I was in terror then, ha-ha! My mum says to me, ‘What do you do with these men? They become lunatics after they’ve been out with you.’ I get to the point where I might be out shopping and a guy will turn around and apologize for getting aroused. Ha-ha-ha-ha! ‘I’m ever so sorry- but I’m sorry for getting aroused!’ That’s what they all say.”

She likes them, too.

“Oh, my God, I’m pretty wild when it comes to sex. That’s why I try never to drink, because if I have a drink I become a nymphomaniac, I’m terrible. Put it this way, this guy I was with, if he’d be driving, all of a sudden, I’d like to get on top of him or something. And he seemed to be astounded by this. I suppose I like to have sex where possibly I’ll be seen or caught, and I like it spontaneous. Another time I was in a restaurant. No! We was having dinner and I got on top of him and he was like, ‘You are joking.’ Ah-ha-ha-ha! He was too nervous. Guys, when it comes down to it, guys are all mouth and no trousers. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, they are so scared of getting caught. My ex would say to me, ‘I’ve never met a woman that goes to such lengths to please a man.’ I’d bake him cookies, silly things like that. Certain instances, if he couldn’t sleep, I would sort of like stroke him until he would sleep.”

I needed a Scotch. I ordered one. I tried to get her to order a drink, but no dice. Mine came and I slugged it down. It was 5 P.M.

“Oh my God!” she said. “I can’t believe it! I’ve been talking for two hours! I’ll tell you what I’m going to do tonight. I am going to go home, I’m going to watch The Nanny , because I love The Nanny , and I’m going to sit at home with a big bar of chocolate and a big bag of chips, and I’m going to put me pajamas on, get hold of me teddy, and give him a big cuddle, ha-ha! Yeah.”

Outside, we walked east. At a traffic light, we saw a guy sitting in a car, mouth agape, ogling Ms. Eklund. I went up to him and asked him what he was thinking.

“I’d rather not say because it’s really not polite to say in front of her,” he said.

We went into her usual deli. Melvin was behind the meat counter.

“Hello, love,” she said.

“Lovey, lovey,” Melvin said.

“What is it about her?” I asked him.

“She brightens up everyone’s day. She’s shining! Look at that, she’s beautiful!”

This was getting to be like a musical. She crossed the street to her building. “Sonny! Sonny!” she said to her doorman. “Tell him what I’m like!”

“She’s a sweet girl, very sweet!” Sonny the doorman said.

“I’m too lonely, though, aren’t I?”

“I keep telling you-you gotta find yourself a boyfriend, honey!”