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A look inside Hollywood and the movies : This Madam's Book Isn't the Heidi Chronicles

August 08, 1993|JANE GALBRAITH

(Alleged) Madam Heidi has the headlines. Acknowledged Madam Alex has her book.

While Heidi Fleiss, 27, awaits a court appearance Monday regarding her arrest on felony pimping, pandering and narcotics possession charges, Madam Alex, 60, reclines in bed finishing her variation on the theme (without the drugs). She has been retired since her pandering conviction in 1991.

Her book: "Madam 90210," is about a 180-degree turn from that high school television show with the same ZIP code.

Like the publication of Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities" that coincided with the Tawana Brawley case in New York and Michael Crichton's "Rising Sun" that came out shortly after former President Bush's disastrous visit to Japan, next year's release by Random House of "Madam 90210" may very well be propelled onto the bestseller list by real-life events linked to Fleiss.

Madam Alex (real name: Elizabeth Adams) was Fleiss' purported mentor and the two share "friends" in common.

Alex, after all, is the "godmother" to all madams now working in Hollywood, said screenwriter-author Bill Stadiem, who is co-writing the last draft of "Madam 90210" while working on a script for Interscope Communications about the BCCI bank scandal.

He describes her as a doyenne of sorts, having retained some luster from the days in the early '70s to late '80s when she hosted dinner parties at her old Bel-Air home on Stone Canyon Road for certain entertainment moguls, executives, stars and their "dates."

"Alex was very discreet. She is sophisticated, worldly, cultured. Her house is filled with antiques. She would cook five-course meals for her friends, be a Dear Abby type to many of them. She didn't have sex with her clients," Stadiem said. "Heidi is more like a California girl, more out on the town. She wanted to be famous."

Madam Alex's thinly veiled biography is described as a cross between Gay Talese's "Thy Neighbor's Wife" and Michael Tolkin's "The Player," Stadiem said, written in both the first and third person but without revealing names. The characters will be composites or somewhat disguised so as not to break any of her confidences, since many of her old clients still keep in touch. Stadiem, who has been working by the author's bedside for months, estimates she "gets more calls than (Disney Studios chairman) Jeffrey Katzenberg in a day."

Madam Alex is in poor health due to diabetes and declined a reporter's request for an interview.

Stadiem talked with over 100 former Madam Alex "girls"--a few who have gone on to become actresses and/or wives of the town's heavyweights and international industrialists--as well as with competing madams. Client-friends volunteered some tales, psychiatrists and plastic surgeons others.

The women were "archetypal California girls" or "model-actress- whatever ," Stadiem laughs. During the go-go era of leveraged buyouts and junk-bond financing, some of them could command $500 an hour, but the coveted encounter was for a gilded weekend to some chi-chi locale worth $20,000. They were taken to Ascot, to the Paris collections, to the Cannes Film Festival. A Playboy Bunny or Penthouse Pet need only be spotted by a prospective paying suitor and Madam Alex would try and make the introduction. At least 25 have gone out on their own as madams.

The intention is to have the book read like "a tableau vivant , a sweeping portrait of sex," to "explode the myth" that stars can get any woman they desire.

"Think about it. A lot of these men are married, they're parading around talking family values. They can't go to a bar and pick up someone, they need someone to do the arranging . . . be the matchmaker," he said.

Peoples' fascination with the fact that sex-for-hire thrives in the age of AIDS shouldn't be surprising, he said, most especially in Hollywood. More than any other place, perhaps, being able to still buy your indulgences is viewed as a "high-end consumer privilege" not unlike being able to afford a Body by Jake or dinner at Spago. "They do it because they can."

Who they are remains unanswered.

Couldn't Madam Alex spare even one name, maybe a former client who might now be dead and unable to sue from the grave? Stadiem demurred.

None of these men is dead. In fact, they're all still "dating" . . . dating some of Heidi's alleged "girls."

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