Skim this article by Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine until your eyes light on this, and you might think what you’re reading is an old review of Carl Hiaasen’s Strip Tease:
“I was pretty surprised, to be honest,” says one former dancer, whom we’ll call by her former Scores name, Heather, since she’s now married to a doctor and living in a small Christian town in the Midwest. At the same time she was dating Starr, Passage was dating other wealthy, eligible men, including a record producer and a celebrity chef. “But I guess Ken was kind of her knight in shining armor that was going to give her a better life,” Heather says. “I mean, you can’t dance forever.”
A former stripper married to a doctor and now living in a “Christian” town in the Midwest? Come on, Carl. That’s pushing it.
But it’s not Hiaasen. It’s not fiction. It’s real. Part of the story of Diane Passage, a former dancer who married a high-rolling money manager with a speed dial list of celebrity clients on his cell and went from shaking it at bachelor parties to mingling with Hollywood royalty at Oscar parties. Passage, whom Pressler describes as:
one of those people that it feels like New York invented, though they thrive wherever male egos and dumb money coexist. She’s the kind of woman who is able, through physical charms, nifty tricks of persuasion, and sheer gall, to inspire men to pay for … well, everything. She’s like Holly Golightly, if Holly Golightly had to kick a guy in the nuts when she went to the powder room. Which, in postrecession New York, she might have…
was living the life of “Cinderfuckingella” until:
…federal agents showed up at their apartment and arrested Starr. The SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s office had charged him with conducting a massive Ponzi scheme. “It’s a mistake,” he told her, after the cops dragged him out of the bedroom closet. But it wasn’t. Documents showed Starr had embezzled $33 million from clients. Passage was named as a co-defendant, and her bank account was frozen. It was as if her fairy godmother had suddenly reappeared and said, “Sorry, wrong girl.”
In the days after Starr’s arrest, the tabloid reporters camped outside the Lux heard an agonized wail coming from inside. “I’ve done nothing,” said the female voice. “Now I have nothing.”
This March, Passage, now 35, sat in a courtroom and listened as a judge with glasses and Janet Reno hair pronounced her husband guilty. “He seemed to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said, “partly as a result of infatuation with his young fourth wife.”
Things haven’t been so hot for her since, although she’s been able to keep up her spirits and maintain a sense of humor, as you’ll see when you read Pressler’s article, A Holly Golightly for the Stipper-Embezzlement Age.
Photo by Patrick McMullan, New York Magazine.