“No cover today, but you’re inside all of them!” the magazine vendor says to Gosselin, handing him a copy of Star. He flips through the tabloids and lights a cigarette, hiding behind wide Ray-Bans, a computer bag strapped to his back. “I’ve been on the cover of 50 magazines over the last twelve months. Some supermodels are lucky to have one, and look at me,” says Gosselin in a rural Pennsylvania twang, motioning toward his round belly. The headline of one of the tabloids reads JON GOSSELIN TO STAR ON SURVIVAL SERIES. He chuckles, dismissing the headlines as mere rumors. “It’s like NASCAR. People just go to see someone wreck. All I can do is ‘deny.’ If I tried suing every time they wrote a lie about me, I’d be broke tomorrow.”
According to Gosselin, when the tabloids aren’t inventing stories about him, they’re producing them. When he’s been at hotels, hookers have been sent to his room. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, while staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Gosselin was approached by a woman claiming to be a jazz singer and professing a strong desire to go to a Dodgers game with him. Having grown accustomed to ambush, Gosselin took precautions, calling his manager, Mike Heller, who then confronted the girl, later unmasking her as the wife of a paparazzo. “The paparazzi send prostitutes to photograph him in compromising positions! There’s a $150,000 price on his head! They’ll do anything to ruin him,” says Heller. “But he’s getting better at understanding who to trust.”
“So who can you trust?” I ask Gosselin. He looks around at the crowded streets and takes a deep breath, pondering his life in the concrete jungle. “My best friend, Joe, died last week,” he says with a somber tone. Taking the last pull on his cigarette, Gosselin has an epiphany. “He knew me better than anybody.” Just two days ago, Gosselin drove directly from his divorce proceedings to his friend’s bedside, where he promised his friend he would look out for his daughter. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet … with everything that’s going on … I’m just trying to surround myself with morally strong people who can help me to be a better person.”
“No cover today, but you’re inside all of them!” the magazine vendor says to Gosselin, handing him a copy of Star.
Gosselin speaks with a therapist daily. He has also sought moral counsel through Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who has invited him to participate in public confessionals, where, for $20, attendees can observe as Gosselin and the rabbi discuss his story and how he will now utilize his celebrity to inspire others. “If you were a role model to fathers when you were married, you should still be a role model as a divorced parent,” Rabbi Shmuley instructs Gosselin, while perched on a throne on top of a stage at the Westside Jewish Center. Boteach, the shameless self-promoter, father of nine, and former star of his own TLC series, Shalom in the Home, was most recently known for having counseled Michael Jackson.
“Jews are cool as shit,” Gosselin says as he rings the doorbell of his lawyer’s brownstone near 72nd Street and Broadway. He looks up at the building, in awe of its market value. Mark Heller emerges from the building talking on a portable phone. George Hamilton’s Jewish doppelgänger has taken up Gosselin’s case against TLC. The former defender of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, Heller recently appeared at Gosselin’s side on Larry King, confident they will emerge victorious against TLC.
While waiting on the steps of the brownstone for Heller to get off the phone, Gosselin pores over a Vanity Fair article about his wife, which includes her accusations that he removed $230,000 from their account, leaving her with only $1,000 to take care of their children. “If I only left her with a thousand dollars, then why does she want to go to eat dinner at Nobu?” He pauses. “What’s Nobu?”
“A very expensive restaurant,” I respond.
“Exactly! How does she get her hair done? How can she afford to pay her bodyguards?” Gosselin asks. “Kate doesn’t get it. TLC controls her life. If we worked together, we could be a better brand. We could make more money. In the end, the more money we make, the better off our kids will be.” Heller and his other lawyer nod their heads in agreement. “You’re rosy! You’re rosy!” says Heller. “There’s nothing they can say now!”
Later, walking down Park Avenue, Gosselin runs into two attractive socialites en route to a fund-raiser for Senator Mark Warner. Realizing Gosselin’s presence could benefit their cause, they approach him and end up inviting him into their limo. “Things like this happen all the time. I’ve ended up in some crazy places … like Avril Lavigne’s house. My kids love Avril,” Gosselin says, as he pulls up to the 59th Street entrance of the New York Athletic Club.