Today, the Red Menace hopped in her Soviet sports car, shopped a little downtown, found some friends to gossip with, eschewed the come-ons of some nefarious boys, signed a few autographs, pined for Schokoladeneis (Häagen-Dazs), remembered her diet, tooled back to her apartment, spent a couple of hours not doing her homework, drove to figure skating practice, turned on the tape of Michael Jackson's Beat It and did a Marxist moonwalk, which she does on skates here in Eastern Europe.
Other than that, it was a slow day for eroding the moral fiber of the Western world. But then, that's the problem with 20-year-old Katarina Witt of East Germany. She's so fresh-faced, so blue-eyed, so ruby-lipped, so 12-car-pileup gorgeous, she makes a lousy enemy of capitalism. Forget Raisa Gorbachev; here's Katarina, 5'5" and 114 pounds worth of peacekeeping missile.
And who could help but be swept away by the wondrous Witt, a sight more enchanting than any Elbe River castle; East Germany's Olympic golddigger in Sarajevo; an ethereal dancer who rises above earthly ice, doesn't need it, never touches the stuff. Katarina the Great. Kate the Skate. O Katarina, don't be late, for you remind the heartbeat of someone. But whom? Lissome. Bacall? Elegant. Deneuve? Yet fresh. Brinkley? And that smile. Dazzling. Disarming. Debilitating. Di?
This is a face an American cosmetic firm offered a modeling contract. (It was rejected by the G.D.R. Sports Federation, every superstar's agent in East Germany.) This is the face that gripped the writing hand of males across the world after her vision was broadcast from Sarajevo and forced them to fill her bathtub with love letters ("We ran out of room for them," she says). Included in the 35,000 tub sonnets were "many, many from American boys," she says, including a few proposals, marriage and otherwise.
But this is not just another triple-take face and drop-dead body. She can skate. Her Sarajevo performance was the first to hit the perfect blend of art and athleticism, pirouettes and panache. As skaters go, Witt is Michael Jordan playing in a YMCA league. She has won two consecutive world championships, and a third in Geneva in March would make her the first woman to take three straight since Peggy Fleming (1966-68). She is the first female skater to make midair miracles look fun. Elaine Zayak of the U.S. may have been a pioneer of the multiple triple, but Zayak sometimes looked as though she had swallowed something nasty just before takeoff. Witt can spin a triple (four in her Olympic long-program performance) and make it look like something to do on the way down to the 7-Eleven.
All of which brings us to the obvious question....
Hey, Katarina, what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?
A 23-foot-high bronze head of Karl Marx glowers fiercely from its granite pedestal: black eyes staring a hole in this town, black six-foot nose all out of joint, one-story-high Grizzly Adams beard jutting out so wide and mean that it nearly crosses the street and knocks workers off their shoes. Then again, this is his town, Karl-Marx-Stadt, deep in the heart of the G.D.R. And anybody with a 23-foot head sticking out of a lump of granite can look as hacked as he wants.
Still, this is Marx's kind of town. No sticky romance like Berlin. No corruptive beauty like Dresden. Just workers and smokestacks, smokestacks and workers—proletariat paradise.
Ah, but up on the hill, above the smothering gray, is the rose that grew in the pavement.