How sorry should we be feeling for Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the "three diamond hooker" who has brought down the Governor of New York? On the one hand, she had a squalid childhood of destitution and abuse, developed a drug habit, and was reduced to selling her body when her dreams of hip-hop stardom came to nought. On the other hand, she was taking large wadfuls of cash from the punters, and keeping her music career on life-support with the proceeds. And now she finds herself the gobsmacked beneficiary of the randomness of Fortuna (Imperatrix Mundi, as the song goes).
She may even get a record deal. Though on this evidence, her career in the music business is likely to be considerably shorter and less lucrative than her early purchase on the entertainment industry.
Yesterday her MySpace profile was still up and running, and I cached the salient points before, inevitably, it ceased to function. Between the breaking of her role in the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal (primarily in the New York Times) and the site's succumbing to the waves of hackers it attracted the kind of hits that your emulous Heresiarch could only dream of. I gather it's back on again. But unless you want to listen to more of her alleged music, here's an extract from her tragic tale:
I live in New York and am on top of the world. Been here since 2004 and I love this city, I love my life here. But, my path has not been easy. When I was 17, I left home. It was my decision and I’ve never looked back. Left my hometown. Left a broken family. Left abuse. Left an older brother who had already split. Left and learned what it was like to have everything, and lose it, again and again. Learned what it was like to wake up one day and have the people you care about most gone. I have been alone. I have abused drugs. I have been broke and homeless. But, I survived, on my own. I am here, in NY because of my music.
Something for everyone here. The feminist analysis of prostitution - all prostitutes are victims, and all their clients are abusers - will find ample confirmation from the clearly sad story of Ashley's childhood. Her "route into prostitution", if you like. Not all alumnae of the Emperor's Club VIP will share her sorry past, but many will. Or as Heather Mallick puts it, failing to see any distinction between $5000 seven-diamond hookers and the poor murdered streetwalkers of Ipswitch,
Dupre's real story is the same as that of the scarily skinny mottled-looking creature you see in the park/verdant expanse of dogshit at 2am giving off bad smells not of her own making....Anyone who watched The Sopranos knows what happens to the Ashleys of this world.
Because The Sopranos was a documentary, wasn't it?
But was Ashley's swerve into the escort business really the consequence of misery and low self-esteem, or something more conscious, informed, calculating even?
Here's what the woman herself says:
I spent the first two years getting to know the music scene, networking in clubs and connecting with the industry. Now, it’s all about my music. It’s all about expressing me. I can sit here now, and knowingly tell you that life’s hard sometimes. But, I made it. I’m still here and I love who I am. If I never went through the hard times, I would not be able to appreciate the good ones. Cliché, yes, but I know it’s true.
That's therapyspeak for you. But whatever her "issues", low self-esteem isn't obviously one of them. She could almost be Velma in Chicago:
No, I’m no one’s wife
But, oh I love my life
And all... that... jazz!!
The New York Post, quoting people who know her, painted Ashley as the ultimate party girl, who made friends with club promoters, danced on tables and "bragged about hobnobbing with hip-hoppers like Sean "Diddy" Combs.". "Like all of them, she wanted to hang out with guys with money", said a source. Originally working as a waitress (don't they all), she obviously found the gig with the Emperors Club rather more lucrative. As the source went on to relate:
Nobody knew she was a prostitute. Everyone assumes it goes on, but you never know which girls are involved. Now it makes sense where her Cartier watch, her Louis Vuitton bathing suit and her trips to St.-Tropez came from.
(cue sound of small change hitting the floor).
One may deplore the fact that rich and powerful men aren't satisfied with their wives and seek to buy the company of attractive young women. One may deplore the unfair economic system that enables some wannabe stars to pursue their possibly narcissistic ambitions while living off Daddy's trust fund while others have to make the choice between waitressing and pumps from WalMart or prostitution and Manolo Blahnik. But such is the world. And Ashley Youmans, aka Ashley DiPietro, aka Ashley Alexandra Dupré, aka Kristen, aka Nina Vanetta would seem today, briefly at least, to be on top of it.
Will she cope? Well, her outlook on life would seem to draw deep from the well of philosophy. In a blog entry, she offers these pearls of wisdom:
If you are in a relationship, and it is "doing absolutely nothing" for you, makes you feel bad about yourself or situations, just causing unneccesary drama, and ruining things that you may actually care about...why would you want that in your life?? you need to surround yourself with the people that make you feel good, and that will help you get to that next step in your life. that is what a relationship is all about...growing and moving forward.
Surround yourself around people that are making moves, and doing what "they want and love" with their lives, positive energy...thats what life is all about...living. Because if you dont, misery loves company, they will only try to bring you down with them...but the question is, are you strong enough, to not let that happen?
Profound stuff. If she doesn't make it in the music industry, perhaps she could give Oprah a run for her money.