Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

Fleiss Trial Yields Colorful Cast, but No Bombshells

November 20, 1994|NORA ZAMICHOW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just down the hall from the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the other trial began last week--the pandering trial of accused Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss.

*

These courtroom proceedings were anticipated for more than a year as the steamy legal event that might burst open bedroom doors of Tinseltown executives, the men said to be in Fleiss' "black book." It has not gone that way; events have unfolded with subdued fanfare and no bombshells.

Nevertheless, the week had a distinctly lascivious texture:

*

In arranging to have four young women come to a lavish Beverly Hills hotel suite, where Fleiss and several of her employees were arrested in a police sting operation, undercover Detective Sammy Lee told Fleiss he was looking for a strictly sexual event to celebrate a deal with business associates, according to surveillance tapes played in court.

"Basically nothing bizarre," he said. "I don't want to see a llama coming through the house."

"No, no, no. Nothing bizarre," Fleiss said. "And you know some guys like two girls to be together."

"Yeah, can that be arranged?" Lee asked.

"Yeah, that's a normal man thing," she replied.

*

Questioned by Fleiss' attorney, Anthony Brooklier, Lee explained that to convince Fleiss that he was a high-roller, he drove a Ferrari, and casually dropped the fact that he flew first-class and stayed in suites at luxurious hotels. The guise was crucial because he wanted to be taken seriously as a man who could spend thousands of dollars for a prostitute, Lee said.

"If you don't engage in this deception, none of (the entertainment with prostitutes) ever happens, correct?" Brooklier asked, hammering on the defense's main theme that police unfairly targeted and entrapped Fleiss.

"It would not have happened if I was the Maytag repairman," the detective said.

*

Hoping to show support for Fleiss, Norma Jean Almodovar, a former Los Angeles Police Department civilian traffic controller arrested for pandering a decade ago, has attended most of the proceedings. Almodovar readily handed out her business card, which shows her in a very revealing dress and notes that she is author of the book "Cop to Call Girl."

When one of the court deputies asked her to autograph his copy of the book, she signed her name.

Then she kissed the page, leaving a big, red lipstick mark.

*

Mayflower Madam Sydney Biddle Barrows appeared on Day 2 of the Fleiss trial, and said she intends to stay to the bitter end. Barrows, a member of a socially prominent family whose roots hail to Plymouth Rock, was busted a decade ago in New York on charges similar to the ones Fleiss faces. At the time of Barrows' arrest, newspapers trumpeted headlines such as "A Pilgrim's Progress." She and her mother were promptly kicked out of the New York Social Register.

After her arrest, Barrows told one reporter that she had become a madam because she wanted to earn good money and did not have a business degree. Barrows speculated that Fleiss, 28, a high school dropout, may have been similarly motivated.

The ex-Mayflower Madam is currently working on a book, something about "how to keep your man happy."

Said Barrows, who recently married: "I'm on the other side now."

*

Retail Update: In the days since the trial began, business has been brisk at Fleiss' Pasadena-based store, Heidi Wear, according to a saleswoman who goes by the name Squirrel. "The stuff is moving like hot cakes," she said, adding that Fleiss manages to stop by after her days in court.

*

Overheard on the row of courtroom seats occupied by the press:

"I'm with the Daily Express."

"Is that a daily or a weekly?"

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|