9:57 am Mar. 7, 2012
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
New York Post: We said yesterday that the story of East Side madam Anna Gristina had legs. And on the front page of the Post today, she is using them.
A series of boudoir photographs posted, according to the Post, to a Facebook page, show Gristina and her husband in intimate poses; in the one on the front page of today's Post, she appears topless, her arms draped over the shoulders of her shirtless husband, Kelvin Gorr, who looks like an Axe body spray model, right down to the J.C. Penney two-pack boxers peeking out from the top of his stonewashed black jeans. (Seriously, this is the game you bring to a sexy marital photo shoot?) His arms are really the only thing clothing her bare left breast. Anyway, I imagine women will go kinda crazy for that Romeo in Black Jeans thing.
I also mentioned yesterday that, one of the (many) reasons this story was just starting to get going was that the investigation into the alleged prostitution ring was in part targeting police officers. Sure enough, today we hear from an unnamed neighbor who claims to have confronted an officer from the 19th precinct who looked like he was involved with the whole thing. The neighbor says that the officer later put a couple of goons up to intimidating him, and that afterward, when he complained to the police, the responding officers told him to be a man and shut up.
But the active main storyline here, the tension, is that Gristina is on the one hand just a Monroe, N.Y. mom, who lives in a bland contemporary country home with her potbellied pigs and her four kids, and wears a baseball cap and a J. Crew barn jacket to ferry them around to practices and things. All very domestic, right down to her third husband with whom she poses for retouched boudoir photos to post to Facebook. I couldn't find any of these pictures online myself.
But I am a little fascinated by Gorr's Facebook friends. Aside from the usual college-buddy and local professional contacts like contractors and construction guys (he's a real-estate agent), he's collected a surprising roster of male models and bodybuilders (perhaps a shared enthusiasm for Muscle Milk brought the rather ripped fellow and these guys together?), self-employed life coaches, psychics and tantric sex counselors. Maybe they're "clients," as Gorr advertises himself online as a life coach in addition to being a real-estate agent. Also: Mariel Hemingway and Men's Fitness editor David Zinczenko.
Anyway the point is: She came to court yesterday in a black-tipped herringbone jacket, her short dyed hair in a bob, wearing wire-rimmed glasses. She looks a little draggy. The Post goes big with the boudoir photo, and the draggy mom picture is a little postage-stamp sized thing next to the lede text which begins with the words "Soccer mom."
"MADAM XXX" reads the big text next to the photo; the Xs are in red. Three bullet points:
- Sizzling pics of 'sex ring' mom
- NYPD sarge feeling the heat
- Hubby tells of shattered kids
Inside there is in fact little new news since yesterday. She's denied a bail reduction; and Gorr speaks to reporters about how upset his kids are about the news. He's shocked by it too, but also somehow sure that the prostitution business did not involve drugs, alcohol or underage escorts. OK!
Daily News: Perhaps because they already did the Soccer Mom Madam cover yesterday, the News sees no reason to use naked pictures of her and her husband on its front? They go big with the Lifetime Original version of Gristina. For some reason the News persists in using this military stenciling as a rubric for the piece; the not-so-clever text "EAST SIDE SEX SCANDAL" is their running title for the affair.
The News advertises two spreads (four pages), but even inside, they use a much tamer boudoir photo from the same set, in which Gristina is covered up by what looks like a white towel and her shirtless husband is embracing her from behind. It's almost wholesome. The News advertises an "exclusive" but it's not really clear what details are exclusive; everyone has the same anonymous sources saying the business was very "high end," that dates included $25,000 weekends all over the world, etc. (It's in the court documents, after all.) Inside, you find lines like this: "At it speak, Gristina's operation featured 50 women—typically young, beautiful and stylish, The News learned." (Nobody else has the info that the prostitutes were young, beautiful and stylish? I think the guy from the Indian restaurant below the brothel-apartment said that yesterday.)
The News decides to focus on the nest-egg Gristina allegedly set aside from her many years in the game: "$10M LAYAWAY" reads the text over the dowdy picture. It is about as unsexy an angle as you can take on a high-end prostitution ring, no?
Observations: Yesterday was yesterday. The Post made a mistake. But here's something the News needs to learn: When a madam is busted and there are nude photos of her with her half-naked husband, and also courtroom photos in which she looks like a substitute teacher, go big on the naked and small on the teacher.
Winner: New York Post.