(February 8, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Vanity started out in life as Denise Katrina Matthews. Her mother was German while her father part Native and part African-American. She grew up in the Falls and came from what she called “a dysfunctional family.” Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother suffered from alcohol abuse and depression. Matthews began entering local beauty pageants before moving to Toronto, where she modelled. She won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977, and went on to compete for Miss Canada in 1978.
At age 19, she moved to New York City to further her career. At five-foot-six, her modelling was limited to commercials and print. In 1980, Matthews made a brief appearance in the feature film and cult favourite Terror Train.
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