The notorious ‘king of trash’ Michael ‘King of Trash’ Epstein

After dropping her primary publisher, ABA Books, in 2010, Ghislaine Maxwell, according to a rumour circulating at the time, resolved to go it alone. Henceforth, Maxwell’s career would be founded on a website called autobiographyof.me. After a honeymoon with writing the book herself, we can certainly say with some authority that it was the only character development Maxwell ever took part in. As this chapter in Epstein’s fantastically unusual and personal-touchy odyssey of court and hearing reads, questions arose from readers, including many new ones.

Maxwell’s editor, John Raymond, had told Epstein during his short time with the book that at “a certain point (she) loses her way”. This can hardly be ascribed to the buxom Ghislaine Maxwell, whose story if anything is rather myopic. While Epstein tells the story of a woman who has been guilty of various inappropriateities and who is portrayed as both a fantasist and a provocateur, Maxwell delivers a similarly telling litany of routine procedures: she was hired to write about President Clinton for an unspecified and unloved magazine and now she has been charged with trying to extort money from a former NFL football player. The gawdy element of the digression is natural as Maxwell’s career is characterized by its invented intimacy and supposed candour and forthrightness.

According to the commentator Karl Shapiro, “the only girl” in Epstein’s entourage, it was Maxwell’s patronage of Edward Pentin and Elvis Perkins that led Epstein to invest in his luxury Washington hotel, the Hay Adams, in 1997, while Epstein was still banned from casinos in Washington by the government’s Committee on Public Envy. Maxwell’s association with Pentin, Perkins, Epstein, and others reads like an inventory of the women’s gossip set. Even Epstein’s infatuation with “That Girl”, as she called her, has been shown to have its genesis in real life. According to Horowitz, Maxwell’s fingerprints are all over his relationship with Jordan Belfort, the suave, educated stockbroker whose firm, Stratton Oakmont, went bust and whose story was inspired by the bestseller Wolf of Wall Street. Jacobs’s utterly convincing account of his break-up with Jordan Belfort in episode 7 of King of Trash is a sole source of much of the juiciest material in Epstein’s book, which this chapter is considered to be the most crucial in.

Behind these declarations of “love”, there are at least a half-dozen philandering politicians—from Bill Clinton to Senator Robert Menendez to California’s Congressman Maxine Waters—although Epstein does not draw a direct causal link between the objects of his affections and their offences against women. Epstein himself has an admitted mistress who had a troubled public life and one who was cleared in her own public trial of having sex with an underage male prostitute. The relationships or affairs we might refer to as Epstein’s crushes are defined less by women’s hidden silences and sins and more by the pathological desire he can only satisfy by being openly transgressing. Epstein and Maxwell seem to fit this arc and, a more substantive catalogue of the men they courted would be impossible to compile, but Epstein’s most entertaining figure is surely Hunter “The Babe” Thompson, who gave Ghislaine a book and another before their secret divorce had even been revealed. Epstein cites the Rod Steiger car theft as a creative inspiration. Holmes and Watson, Smith & Wesson revolver and 1979 Mercedes-Benz might be even better metaphors.

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