Dating David Duke

A girlfriend remembers America's best-known racist as vain, selfish and opinionated — and not too devoted to his cause

It's the little things that stick in her mind.

Like the time that she accompanied David Duke to a New Orleans television station where the white supremacist ideologue was to be interviewed. When Duke left the room briefly, a cameraman asked Lori Eden to sit in Duke's chair so that he could focus the camera. Returning, Duke was furious at his sweetheart.

"He said, 'Get up! get up!'" remembers Eden, a swimsuit and lingerie model who went out with America's most famous former Klansman in 1999 and 2000. "He didn't want me anywhere near that camera. The camera was for him."

Or the time that he told her that zirconium was just as good as diamonds — most people couldn't tell the difference.

"He was not a generous person in any way, shape or form," Eden told the Intelligence Report. "He was very greedy. He made many cheap-ass comments like that. I own a lingerie business and I walk around in a bathing suit and thong. He didn't like that. He wanted me to quit.

"But he wouldn't give me anything to help me out."

Eden, who was 33 at the time that she and Duke dated exclusively, said Duke's racism seemed to depend on having an audience. Once, hanging around with his "entourage" — "big men who had shot people before, men who would take care of him" — he very publicly yanked her out of a large hotel swimming pool when a black child got in the other end.

But another time, at a small ice cream shop with Eden for her son's birthday, he got into a long and apparently friendly conversation with a black friend of hers. His followers weren't there that time.

"I think it was all for show, because there were other people there," Eden says of the pool incident. "If nobody was there, he would have gotten in the damn pool. ... Some of the racist stuff, I think, is just to get publicity. I don't think he hates black people as much as he says he does. I believe he likes power and attention. He loves the media. He loves to be in the limelight."

Eden often stayed at Duke's Mandeville, La., home. She says she will never forget the paranoia that seemed to rule there.

"Any time I was at his house, I mean it was Fort Knox. They locked every window, every deadbolt — when you went to take the garbage out, when the kids went out to play, you had to knock to get back in.

"It was absolutely insane, like something you see on TV."

Duke, Eden added, was a health nut. "He would swallow like 20 pills a day, all these vitamins," she said. "He was really into the Atkins diet."

Eden stayed with Duke until he finally left for Russia in late 2000 — a voyage that would end only two years later, when Duke agreed to return to the United States and plead guilty to two federal felonies.

But Eden says she'd started to drift away from him earlier, after her three sons began to be taunted at school because of her association with the infamous racist. They fought frequently toward the end, Eden says, though he never hit her. By the time Duke left, it was a casual relationship, with the pair seeing each other just once or twice a week.

They have never spoken or communicated since. Thinking back, Eden says she isn't sure why she stayed with Duke as long as she did. "I guess you could say I fell in love with him," she says with a sigh. "It was like a bad habit."