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A Holly Golightly for the Stripper-Embezzlement Age

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These days, the bamboo is jaundiced and bent. The pool’s heater is turned off, and Passage has forgotten how to work the projectors in the plush theater where she holed up for months after Starr’s fraud was revealed, mindlessly watching episodes of Ace of Cakes. “Welcome to the Titanic,” she said when I visited a couple months ago, warning me to avoid a leak in the ceiling of the mansion that she and her son were essentially squatting in, waiting to see which of their belongings, if any, they would be allowed to take with them. (“Think the U.S. Attorney wants to repo them?” she joked of her breasts.)

Jordan was home, getting ready for school, when federal agents came knocking on the door of apartment 1C with a warrant for his stepfather’s arrest. “What’s going on?” he asked his mother, tears streaming down his face, after they marched Starr out the door. “I don’t know,” she told him. It wasn’t until they turned on the news that they heard what had happened: How Uma Thurman had stormed into Starr’s office, irate about a missing million dollars, and how a wave of clients had followed, demanding redemptions that Starr, it turned out, had been incapable of giving, since, according to the complaint, he had misappropriated millions “for his own personal use, including to purchase himself a new, multimillion-dollar residence.”

The following weeks were a blur. Starr swore to her that he had done nothing wrong, even as the facts increasingly contradicted him. Still, Passage tried to believe him. Certainly, his version of events was preferable. Then she found out that he’d lied to her about the timing of his divorce from Marisa (it had come through only two weeks before their wedding), and she was apoplectic when she learned from Vanity Fair the details of their generous settlement. Adding insult to injury, she found out she wasn’t even his third wife but his fourth. “The fact that he had this whole other wife,” she says, shaking her head. “I was so insulted. I mean, I’d told him everything.” Worse, Starr lied to her when she confronted him about it. “He was like, ‘It was an arrangement’; I was like, ‘Yeah, it was. It was a marriage, you idiot.’ I mean, don’t hustle a hustler.”

Because she was named as a co-defendant in the SEC case, the agency froze her funds, including, Passage says, her savings from Scores. Still, she hasn’t taken a job, mostly because she’s afraid the SEC would seize her wages and use them to pay off the Carly Simons and Bunny Mellons of the world, a distribution of assets she sees as grossly unfair. “I mean, really?” she says. “My husband got in trouble, so I’ve got to give restitution money too?” These days, she’s surviving on the “generosity of family and friends”—some of whom are former Starr clients—and her own “creativity.” “Jordan’s a hustler too,” she says proudly of her son, now 13. “He’ll be like, ‘Mom, can I get you coffee?’ And of course I don’t see the change.”

All summer long and into the fall, she stayed furious with Starr. She wouldn’t answer his calls from prison. So he wrote long e-mails in which he pledged his love and promised he would make it all up to her, as soon as he cleared up what he still implied was a misunderstanding. “I thought I was doing all I could to continue to be successful but I will do more,” he wrote in one e-mail. “You will have more than you will ever need and I want you to flaunt it,” he promised in another, after his friends and family refused to post his bail. “Mostly because I love you so much,” he added, “but also because I want them to choke on it.”

By the New Year, he finally said what she wanted to hear. “He told me what he did, and really expressed a lot of remorse,” Passage explains. “And I finally felt his ego sort of go away. It was his ego that got him into this, you know, in the first place.” Looking at her husband, humbled in his blue prison garb, “I kind of gained a whole new level of respect for him.” And for the first time, Passage felt like she could be herself, that they were equals. “Before he was arrested, our relationship was sort of shallow,” she says. “This winter, I felt like we were able to just really connect. And our relationship became more real.”

For the next few months, they talked at least five times a day and saw each other once a week. “More roses from Ken just arrived!!” she tweeted in February. “Even from behind bars he continues to make other husbands look like a$$holes … Lol!”


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