But by the spring, reality was setting in. “The other day I was thinking, for a quarter of our marriage, he’s been incarcerated,” she told me in May. “That’s kind of significant.” And she’d spent the last few visits yelling at him. “Sometimes I get really angry at the situation,” she said. “Our relationship is not exactly fun anymore.” In June, she wished him a happy anniversary by text, and when she told him she was seeing other people, he understood. “My hope for her is simple,” Starr writes in an e-mail from prison. “That she has the life she wants and dreams of—she deserves it.”
“Am I a good boy or a bad boy?” Paul asks again, as the car pulls up to the Mark Hotel. Frédéric Fekkai, sitting at a table in the bar area, breaks his conversation to watch as Passage settles into a table, pulling her skirt daintily over the tops of her thighs. While Paul busies himself with hugging the restaurant’s employees, Barry, who has by now turned a shade of plum, orders another round of drinks.
It’s late July and Passage has recently been to see a divorce attorney, though she says she hasn’t yet told Ken. “Not yet,” she says. “I promised him that I would never abandon him. Because I love him. But I can’t stay married to him. Ah, that tickles!”
Paul is dangling a napkin across her head. “Am I a good boy or a bad boy?”
Her lawyers are working to get her funds unfrozen by the SEC, and she’s starting to think seriously about the next chapter of her life. She’s been consulting on opening a nightclub in the Flatiron district “that caters to an older audience,” with Tommy Tardie, of La Pomme, and she mulled a few reality-TV projects, including a show about Scores dancers, before deciding the genre is “tacky.” In the meantime, she still has to make a living. Around midnight, Barry pays the check in cash and immediately collects on his investment, pulling Passage to him. As they make out at the table, Paul grows morose. “Do I look old?” he asks. “I used to be a quarterback at Notre Dame!” He buries his head in his hands.
As it turns out, Passage didn’t have to tell Starr that she was filing for divorce. He read about it in “Page Six.” A few days after the night out with Barry and Paul, she’d been at the nail salon, flipping through Newsweek, when she got the call from the Post confirming it. Inside the magazine was a picture of herself and Starr, alongside an article about the trials and tribulations of Bunny Mellon. “I had hair extensions, I’m wearing like diamond earrings and a cocktail dress,” she says. “It doesn’t even seem like me.”
And it wasn’t anymore. Last week, Passage and her son finally moved out of the Lux. They’ve ended back where she started, in Times Square. “I think I fit in better here,” she says, calling from their tiny apartment overlooking the glittery, dirty center of Manhattan, where people from everywhere arrive each day to live out stories whose endings they can’t yet imagine.