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MRS SEX; Girl behind Ann Summers legend is now rich recluse.

HER name is synonymous with daring underwear and saucy lingerie parties.

But what few people know is that there was a real Ann Summers who inspired the chain of shops which transformed the sex lives of a generation.

Today she is a multi-millionairess who lives as a virtual recluse deep in the Italian countryside, and drives to Mass in her open-top sports car.

It was 30 years ago, during what she describes as "another chapter in my life", that her playboy lover, the dashing Kim Caborn-Waterfield, chose her as the face - and name - to launch the controversial high street stores selling sex aids to the masses.

But if her lover was The Brains behind the firm's launch, his then secretary Annice Summers was certainly The Body. A honey-blonde 19-year-old with a girl-next-door smile, she was the perfect image for a company which traded on its insistence that it was natural to enjoy sex.

Today, the name is so accepted that even Princess Anne's daughter Zara Phillips recently held an Ann Summers party at Gatcombe Park.

Back in the early days, Annice said: "What I want to do is make sex open, take it off the back streets and place it in an entirely acceptable and hygienic form on the high streets."

Although she was born Annice Goodwin in 1941, she took her stepfather Harry Summers' surname.

Waterfield abbreviated her first name...and one of the most successful brands in British business was born.

Today, villagers close to her mansion in Umbria, two hours from Rome, are blissfully unaware of the former life of their respectable neighbour. Annice, now 59, still looks the part, her fair hair swept back, her figure as trim as ever. Since the death of her husband, Jewish American millionaire Murray Resnick, in May 1998, she has lived alone with her alsatian dogs and visitors from England for company.

Her villa could not be more secluded. A housemaid takes care of domestic chores at the house, which overlooks Lake Trasimeno.

Asked now about Ann Summers, she says: "That chapter in my life closed 30 years ago."

The first shop opened at London's Marble Arch in 1970, and Waterfield confides: "Ann was a terrific-looking girl, ideal for the role. But we weren't really full-time lovers, it was more an occasional thing." The real love of his life was actress Diana Dors. For 35 years, until Diana's death from cancer, they were lovers and business partners.

Ann walked out on the company in June 1971, less than a year after its launch, after a row with Waterfield.

He sold out to porn barons David and Ralph Gold. They persuaded Ann to return and manage a new store, but she quit again a year later.

She faded into obscurity, moving to France and eventually meeting leather tycoon Resnick. Now her story is set to come under fresh scrutiny with Waterfield's account of the Ann Summers story - Ann Summers And The Porn Baron's Gold - which paints a controversial portrait of the Gold family's firm.

Waterfield, who has registered two Internet sites to market the book, was helped by ex-Ann Summers managing director Ron Coleman. But Coleman asked him to delay publication until after his death. He died earlier this year.

An Ann Summers spokesman said: "When Kim started the business, they were sex shops. Now they are lingerie boutiques."
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Author:Martin, Stephen
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 27, 2000
Words:558
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