Erika Slezak

PARIS, Texas — Victoria Lord Davidson of "One Life to Live" must be among the most resilient heroines in the history of soap operas.

The character, played for 36 years by Emmy-winning actress Erika Slezak, has struggled with dissociative identity disorder and has survived breast cancer, a stroke, kidnapping, a brain aneurysm, a heart transplant and multiple husbands. And one of her children died of lupus.

No wonder she needed a change of scenery.

This fall, the millionaire newspaper publisher disappeared from her home in Llanview, Penn. E-mails to her dysfunctional family suggested she was in Paris, France. She's really in Paris, Texas, working as a waitress.

"Isn't that a hoot!' said Becky Semple, the Lamar County tourism director. "We've gotten lots of calls; so far it's been very positive."

Slezak's character has been living at a local motel and working at the fictional Bonjour Cafe. Her love interest has been a customer named Charlie, whom she met at the diner.

Paris native Jamy Welch-Wyatt, co-owner of a video production company, became part of the story in late summer when an assistant producer of the ABC-TV daytime drama asked her to shoot footage of Paris landmarks, including the town's 65-foot Eiffel Tower with a red cowboy hat on top. Episodes of the soap opera are filmed in New York.

Parisians who follow the daytime melodrama with interest are waiting to see what plays out in their East Texas town.

Joni Kincaid of Paris is too busy working to watch "One Life to Live" when it airs Monday through Friday. She waits on tables at Magel's Grill. But her daughter is taping each episode for her.

"I've been following Viki at least 20 years, " Kincaid said.

Is she surprised the soap heroine is in Paris, Texas?

"I'm surprised anybody ever comes to Paris, Texas," she said with a grin.

"But really, there's lots of friendly people here."