Still, the business charged on. It takes a singular pimp to think it is a good idea to stage a reality-TV show at his place of business, but Jason Itzler is that kind of guy. “It was incredible,” says independent producer Ron Sperling, who shot the film Inside New York Confidential. “Big-shot lawyers and Wall Street bankers flipped when they saw the cameras. Jason told them the movie was no problem. That it was a good thing. If they didn’t want to be in it, they should just walk behind the camera. That’s Jason. If he was a billionaire and no one knew about it, it wouldn’t be anything to him.”
Despite misgivings about legalities, VH1 expressed interest in Inside New York Confidential. Arriving late, Jason swept into the meeting with several girls. Along for the ride was a young Belgian tourist whom Itzler had encountered only moments before on West Broadway. “You’re beautiful,” Jason told the young woman. “But your clothes look like shit.” Itzler bought her $2,500 worth of threads in about ten minutes, convincing her she would be great in his TV show.
“He asked for a million dollars an episode,” says a VH1 exec. “We told him that was insane money, so he got mad and left.”
Jason’s manic spending increased. One afternoon, splashing on Creed Gold Bottle cologne ($175 per bottle) as “kind of a nervous tic,” he bought 26 antique crystal chandeliers at $3,000 apiece. “We had so much furniture, there was nowhere to walk. I used to jump over the stuff for exercise,” says Natalia. “We had this room upstairs we called the Peter Beard Room. Peter likes to sit on the floor, so we got these beautiful Moroccan pillows. One day, I come home, and there’s a Playboy pinball machine there, with Hugh Hefner’s face on it. Then I knew there was no point saying anything.”
Jason’s class insecurities also cropped up. One night, upstairs at Cipriani’s, Itzler went over to where Lizzie Grubman was sitting with Paris Hilton. He asked Grubman about representing NY Confidential. Grubman, whom Jason regarded as just another Great Neck girl with a rich dad under the glitz, supposedly sneered, “I don’t do pimps.” Returning to his table, Jason said, “I hate that bitch. She runs over sixteen people and thinks she’s better than me.”
Jason’s Utopian house of happiness turned into a stage for an ongoing paranoid soap opera. Feeling his grip slipping, Itzler begged his former fiancée Mona to help with the day-to-day running of the place. Mona, who had helped organize things in the earliest days of NY Confidential, ran a tight ship. But there were complications. It had been only eight months since Mona had been Jason’s girlfriend, living with him in Hoboken. They broke up, leading to an enormous screaming match during which Mona called the police, claiming Itzler attacked her. Jason disputed this, allowing he “might have squeezed her hand too hard, trying to get my keys back.” Mona would drop the charges, but not before Itzler spent some time under house arrest.
Jason says, “Maybe I’m just soft, because after Mona wrote the judge a tear-stained letter how I never beat her up and how she loved me, I forgave her.” With Jason’s parole problems increasingly keeping him in Hoboken, Mona soon filled the power vacuum at 79 Worth Street. Her key ally would be Clark Krimer, a.k.a. Clark Kent or Superman, a muscle-bound young banker hired by Itzler to manage credit-card accounts. This way, those wanting to disguise their use of NY Confidential services would appear to be spending their $1,200 or so at venues like the fictitious Gotham Steak. Clark and Mona soon became an item, consolidating their power.
The Clark-and-Mona regime upset “the vibe” of 79 Worth Street, turning it into, in the words of one working girl, “just another whorehouse.” First to feel the fallout was Natalia. As queen of the castle, Natalia always dismissed the jealousies of the other escorts as “stupid girl stuff.” This was different. She says, “Mona was a psycho-bitch. She hated me, and now she was running the place.” When clients called, instead of Jason’s rapturous invocations of Natalia’s charms, Mona said, “I’ve got this girl, she’s six-one, a rower on an Ivy League college scull team. She’s cheaper than Natalia and way better.” Natalia’s bookings fell off.
One November afternoon, Natalia arrived at the loft to find Mona standing in front of the door to her room—her room!—demanding she turn over her keys to the loft. “This is where I live. My home,” Natalia screamed. Eventually, however, Natalia decided to move out.
Through this, people began telling Jason he’d better cool things out, not keep bringing parties of vacationing second-grade schoolteachers by the loft for fun. With guys in Con Edison vans watching the place from across the street, the least he could do was make sure the front door stayed locked.