Aids Ruined My Marriage but It Won't Ruin My Life ..; Playboy Pin-Up Rebekka Had It All - Looks, Fame and Money. Then She Became HIV Positive and Her Dream World Crumbled Away

Article excerpt

PLAYBOY centrefold Rebekka Armstrong's turbulent life reads like a film script.

The stunning blonde, bi-sexual model had beaten a deadly disease and suicidal despair before marrying the man who promised her a normal, happy life.

In true Hollywood fashion, the marriage did not last and Rebekka believes the relationship is a victim of Aids, the disease she has fought for 16 years.

But she is determined that her story - which is to be filmed by British film company Four Way - will have a happy ending.

She is crusading to educate others about Aids and, despite relying on a cocktail of drugs to keep her alive, she is also back nude modelling.

The film of her life, to be made with Full Monty star Robert Carlyle, Mark Cousins and famed director Antonia Bird, will certainly not need to be spiced up. If anything, the facts of her life are more fantastic than any fiction.

Even as she is going through divorce from the man who promised to change her life, she is looking to the future - and she claims that the illness, which wrecked her marriage and which provoked two suicide attempts, has made some aspects of her life better than ever.

At 33, the blonde whose dazzling good looks turn heads even in jaded Hollywood, declared: "HIV has actually made me extremely imaginative and more fun in bed. It hasn't stopped my sex life. I just use protection."

She started dating soon after she and husband Joey split up, but says that she had hoped their marriage would work out from the start.

Joey married her even though he knew she was HIV positive, but she believes the Aids virus was responsible for ending her marriage. The former Miss September, who was a Playboy model for 11 years, said: "The realities of the virus hit home for Joey. He started to become more distant, not so emotionally involved with me. I left him, but we are still good friends."

After being diagnosed, Rebekka went into a downwards spiral. Her jet set life crumbled and she became homeless and desperate.

Gradually, she got her life together again. She was in a relationship with a woman when she met Joey in a Los Angeles strip bar in November, 1994.

They fell in love and, when Rebekka realised that Joey, then a trainee estate agent, already knew she had Aids, she agreed to marry him. She says: "At first, I thought he was crazy. I loved him very much. It was a beautiful, wonderful thing that somebody wanted to marry me.

"But, at the back of my mind, I thought, 'This wedding will never happen'.

"I felt guilty about putting somebody through the things Joey would have to go through." The following year, they married - on the second try.

On their original wedding day, Rebekka fled from the church car park. She got her nerve back the next day and tied the knot at the Little Chapel of the West, in Las Vegas. The "best man", in T-shirt and jeans, was Pat - Rebekka's female friend.

Joey, now aged 28 and still living in Massachussetts, says: "People ask me, 'How could you marry someone you know is HIV positive?'

"I tell them I love Rebekka just the way she is.

"They might find a cure for Aids, but, whether they do or not, I'll always be glad I married her. Why should it matter if she has the Aids virus? I'd much rather be in love now than never be in love at all."

Things started to go wrong for the couple when they moved to Massachussetts from Los Angeles.

Rebekka said: "I did what I could as far as Aids activism was concerned, but I wasn't working so much and had to go on a cocktail of drugs, which made me really sick. …