In a new book, former South African glamour girl Janie du Plessis reveals a darker side of her life of sexual encounters, cocaine use and a tense relationship with her husband.

She has also told about her bond with accomplished South African golfer Sally Little, with whom Du Plessis is rumoured to have had a lesbian relationship, and her struggle against breast cancer.

Du Plessis, 48, was at the height of her fame in the 1980s as a model, actress, TV presenter and covergirl. She presented TV programmes such as Teletien and Revue Plus, took parts in films, and was the face of cosmetic house Max Factor for two years.

Her biography, ‘n Keuse vir die Lewe, was written by Martie Retief Meiring, in Afrikaans.

Du Plessis tells of her experimentation with cocaine, the drug to which her Italian husband Massimo Beltrami became addicted. She and Beltrami married in November 1989, and lived in Portugal and Italy.

He would go on cocaine binges – a habit he called his “hobby” – and would sometimes offer the drug to their house guests.

“My first experience with dagga was silly and mad enough. I then also used cocaine and it’s true, it suddenly makes you feel good but it’s horrible afterwards,” she wrote.

Du Plessis said Beltrami’s cocaine binges soon took on a perverse tone. He had had a low libido and the drugs would help him conjure raunchy images to heighten his sex drive.

She would take part in his fantasies, sniffing cocaine with him in groups, or parading in her underwear in front of their friends in their Milan apartment.

He would call her his “whore” and encourage her to engage in sexual acts with their friends. Once, Beltrami urged her to have sex with a young male visitor. When they both refused, Beltrami whipped out a pistol and threatened to shoot them.

Du Plessis, who has two sons by Beltrami, now in their late teens, also told of happy moments in their household. They divorced in 2004.

In 2007, she booked a flight to visit him in Portugal, but just a month before she was supposed leave, she received news that Beltrami had died, choking on a sandwich at a bar.

The book tells of Du Plessis’s relationship with Little. Their friendship sparked a scandal over whether the two were in a lesbian relationship.

The book reads: “The friendship got tongues wagging. Would Janie be in a lesbian relationship? … Yes, there were such insinuations and open questions. Sally was the best, best friendship I’ve known. She lived with us and our house all of a sudden became another place. The dog stopped peeing on the mat. We laughed and ate and the boys found a true friend in her. And I know you can’t determine who you’re going to love. That happens to people’.”

The relationship has since ended.

‘n Keuse vir die Lewe is published by Human and Rossouw.