This aside, not counting his sainted late mother, Jason says Natalia, 25, about five foot three and perhaps 100 pounds soaking wet, reigns as the love of his life.
Without Natalia, she of the smoldering brown eyes that have excited who knows how many hedge-fund managers, billionaire trust-fund babies, and NFL quarterbacks, Jason would never have been able to build NY Confidential into the sub rosa superhotness it became. It was Natalia who got top dollar, as much as $2,000 an hour, with a two-hour minimum. In the history of Internet escorting, no one ever matched Natalia’s ratings on TheEroticReview.com, the Zagat’s of the escort-for-hire industry. On TER, “hobbyists,” as those with the “hobby” of frequenting escorts are called—men with screen names like Clint Dickwood, Smelly Smegma, and William Jefferson Clinton—can write reviews of the “providers” they see, rating them on a scale of 1 to 10 for both “appearance” and “performance.”
In 2004, Natalia recorded an unprecedented seventeen straight 10/10s. On the TER ratings scale, a 10 was defined as “one in a lifetime.” Natalia was the Perfect 10, the queen of the escort world.
“ Yo! Pimp Juice! . . . that her?”
It was Psycho, a large tattooed Dominican (psycho was stenciled on his neck in Gothic lettering) who was referring to Jason by his jailhouse nickname. Itzler nodded. There was no need to gloat. Moments before, Jason scanned the grim visiting room. “Just making sure I’ve got the hottest chick in the room.” Like it was any contest, Natalia sitting there, in her little calfskin jacket and leather miniskirt, thick auburn hair flowing over her narrow shoulders.
Besides, half of Rikers already knew about Jason and NY Confidential. They’d read, or heard about, the articles Itzler had piped to his pulp enablers at “Page Six,” including how he could get “$250,000 an hour for Paris Hilton with a four-hour minimum.”
But you couldn’t believe everything you read in the New York Post, even at Rikers. Natalia’s presence was proof. Proof that Jason, a little Jewish guy who still sported a nasty black eye from being beaten silly in his sleep by some skell inmate, wasn’t full of shit when he told the homeys that he was the biggest pimp in the city, that he got all the best girls. How many other Rikers fools could get the Perfect 10 to visit them, at nine o’clock in the morning, too?
“Psycho . . . Natalia,” Jason said. “Natalia . . . Psycho.”
“Hey,” Natalia said with an easy smile. She was, after all, a girl you could take anywhere. One minute she could be the slinkiest cat on the hot tin roof, wrapping her dancer’s body (she was the tap-dance champion of Canada in 1996) around a client’s body in a hotel elevator. Then, when the door slid open, she’d look classic, like a wife even, on the arm of a Wall Street CEO or Asian electronics magnate. She was an actress, had played Shakespeare and Off Broadway both. Ever the ingénue, she’d been Juliet half a dozen times. Playing opposite Jason’s however-out-of-luck Romeo was no sweat, even here, in jail.
Not that Natalia had exactly been looking forward to coming to Rikers this raw late-spring morning. Riding in the bus over the bridge from East Elmhurst, freezing in her lace stockings as she sat beside a stocky black man in a Jerome Bettis jersey, she looked out the window at the looming prison and said, “Wal-Mart must have had a two-for-one on barbed wire.”
It wasn’t that she didn’t miss Jason, or the heyday of when they lived together at 79 Worth Street, the harem stylings of which came to Jason while getting his hair cut at the Casbah-themed Warren Tricomi Salon on 57th Street. It was just that this marriage thing was flipping her out, especially after Jason called the tabs to announce the ceremony would be held inside Rikers.
“Every little girl’s dream, to get married at Rikers Island,” Natalia said to Jason. “What are they going to get us, adjoining cells?”
But now, holding hands in the visiting room, surrounded by low-level convicts, just the sort of people who rarely appeared in either of their well-to-do childhoods or in the fantasy life of 79 Worth Street—neither of them, pimp or escort, could keep from crying.
“Are those happy tears or sad tears?” Jason asked.
“Just tears,” answered Natalia.
“Crying because your boy is in jail?”
“That and . . . everything else.”
It was a tender moment. Except then, as he always does, Jason began talking.
“Don’t worry about this Rikers marriage,” he said, back in schemer–boy genius mode. “This isn’t the real marriage . . . When I’m out we’ll have the princess marriage . . . the white dress, everything. Your mom will be there. My dad . . . This is just the publicity marriage. You know: getting married at Rikers—it’s so . . . rock star!”