I’m named after the 1930’s transgressive film actress, Marlene Dietrich, a woman who slept with both Greta Garbo and JFK. That’s a lot of woman to live up to.

Growing up in the South I remember hanging laundry out in the backyard with my German mother, begging her to tell me a story she heard when she was a little girl. Taking the clothes pins out of my hand she said, “No one ever told me stories as a girl, Püppchen. I was born during a war.” That’s when I started writing.

I’ve written and produced documentaries for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, produced a reality series for AOL Studios called Candid Conversations, and toured 5 of my original solo shows, my favorite being Dress Kiss Me: A story of love, loss and a dress that talks.

In 2013 I took part in an artist residency in the Arctic Circle, sailing around the archipelago of Svalbard. I can tell you first hand that polar bears are dangerously beautiful and icebergs gossip about us all the time.

The last two years I’ve spent in Los Angeles teaching the art of memoir to senior citizens or the self-named “The Old Broad Coalition”. When I shared how embarrassing it feels to have never been married they gave a collective shrug and all agreed, “If you’re having a sexual relationship with a man eventually you’ll have to wash his underwear. And only you can decide if it’s worth it or not. Sometimes it’s just not.”

Other jobs have included: professor, paper pusher, voice over actor, Billy Zane’s on screen murdered wife, and explorer. Currently I split my time between NYC and LA but I hope to settle down into a home this year.

Naomi HenkeMarlene Nichols