Turns Out You Don't Have to Be an Evil Genius to Take Down a Governor

Spitzer
"But they all seemed so !" Photo: Getty Images

"For all the weighty consequences of its operation, the Emperor’s Club had a homespun quality." That's how the Times introduces the feel-good backstory of the harem that brought down New York's toughest governor since Fiorello La Guardia. Mark Brener, who founded the prostitution ring, only did it so that he could pay his late wife's overdue medical bills (he got the idea from reading The Village Voice. Pimps, they're just like NYU students!). His assistant, Tanya Hollander, only did it to earn cash to get a holistic-living counseling business off the ground. Brener's partner, Cecil Suwal, sweetly moved into his modest apartment with him quickly after joining the company. (“I wasn’t sure if she was his daughter or not,” their doorman told the Times. “It seemed awkward.”) Finally, Tameka Lewis, the dispatcher who was mentioned in the damning affidavit that busted Spitzer, was really just a bookish UVA grad who was tired of being a waitress. Four nice, quiet people from all different walks of life — and within three years of business they earned more than $1 million, expanded business into six cities, and controlled a fleet of more than 50 prostitutes. If that isn't an America success story, we don't know what is.

Behind the Emperor's Club Escort Service [NYT]