Jason Itzler, founder of New York Confidential and self-professed “king of all pimps” was back in the dock again this morning on the usual charges of promoting prostitution and money laundering (nine counts in all, each of the felony variety). For heck of it, the D.A. threw in two counts of dope selling. What was new was Jason’s story, a ruthlessly surreal tale of how he procured a “companion” for country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, purveyor of “Achy Breaky Heart” and father of pop star Miley.
“I sent a companion, a non-sexual companion — a baby sitter, not a prostitute — to Billy Ray Cyrus, who was staying at the Trump International Hotel,” Itzler said in court. “He made it clear he was not interested in sex. They decided in front of me to get and use heroin for the first time in their life. He wanted to die!”
The Cyrus narrative, Jason’s most notable since the genial megalomania concerning his exaggerated role in bringing down Eliot Spitzer, had been in development since late July. At least that’s when Itzler first rolled it out to me on the phone. Sounding very shook up, Jason said a guy who he thought might be Billy Ray Cyrus had hired three of his employees at “Rock Star Models and Party Girls,” a concern he described as “non-sexual companion provider like a babysitter service.” The potential Cyrus figure had given Jason a check for a large amount of money. The problem was the check bounced and Jason had not heard from the girls for several days. Hinting at a vague drug connection, Jason feared foul play, but agreeably allowed that “if he really turns out to be Billy Ray and he can get me a date with his daughter, I am willing to forget the whole thing.”
A few days later, a much buoyed Itzler called again to say everything was okay since “the check cleared.” (The missing girls seemed to have fallen from the radar). That appeared to be that until Jason rang again in late August from the Bellevue psych ward. The nuthouse thing had been one big mistake, Jason told me when I visited him on the eleventh floor of the venerable hospital. He had contemplated mounting a class action suit against Bloomingdale’s “Forty Carrots” eatery on account of what Jason asserted to be the restaurant’s alleged prejudice against black diners. Forsaking this notion, Itzler was instead thinking of staging a slip-and-fall incident on one of the store’s staircases when he actually did slip and hit his head, leading to a scuffle with some EMT workers, which in turn ended him up in Bellevue.
“They say I’m bipolar but I don’t have any depression, just mania and more mania,” Jason said sunnily as he sat in the ward’s visiting room. By then the Billy Ray Cyrus plot had thickened. Jason now insisted the singer had “OD-ed on heroin” and was brought back to life through some heroically and rapidly applied CPR. Itzler claimed he was no longer interested in the star’s money, reputedly declaring “I’m just so glad you’re still alive!”
Released from Bellevue last Wednesday, Jason texted that he was now “free!” so it was a surprise to find out that he had been arrested by the NYPD on West 14th Street only two days later and was being held on $500,000 bail. By this time, as Itzler would later tell the court, the Cyrus scenario had grown to include Bloomberg and members of the local law enforcement community, who Jason believed had joined forces to protect the singer and his “Disney contract.” In a fabulously convoluted statement, Jason claimed the presence of ADA Gene Hurley, the prosecutor in the New York Confidential case, to be just one more sign of how the state was out to get him. “This man is a monster in my life,” Jason declared. Speaking to reporters after Itzler’s bail was reduced to a still unmakable $200,000, Hurley denied any such plot, adding that “Billy Ray Cyrus has nothing to do with this case.”