The Upper East Side "Mommy Madam," Anna Gristina, 44, who was charged yesterday with promoting prostitution is getting a lot of attention in the tabloids today. The New York Post puts her on the cover in a sexy photo with her younger husband, Kelvin Gorr, calling her "Madam XXX." And, while no client list has been released, the details coming out -- mostly, about Gristina's personal life -- are fascinating. And certainly cinematic. Herewith, a cheat sheet.
The husband: The 38-year-old Gorr, pictured right, "made headlines as a teen for saving his mother from a knife-wielding rapist." He also "appears to have dabbled in real estate and tried to launch a life-coaching business." The two met dancing in the Catskills and had, apparently, a quickie marriage. According to the Daily News, "'It was a rushed marriage,' one Gorr pal said. “Everyone was like, ‘Who is this old lady?’"
The former husband: Then there's Gristina's former husband, Dario Gristina, who is running for New York state Assembly as a "Conservative Republican... Catholic... Pro Life... Pro 2nd Amendment...Anti-Tax...Anti-Illegal Immigration." According to the Daily News, the former Mr. Gristina was arrested for soliciting a prostitute back in 1998, when his divorce with Anna was finalized. "He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and copped another plea two years later in an impaired-driving case, records show." Remarried with kids, he "had little to say about the charges against his ex-wife."
The pigs. As the papers gleefully noted yesterday, when the police went to Gristina's upstate home in Monroe, New York, to make an arrest, she was not there -- but there was a wild boar, which chased a cop around. The family, according to the New York Post, lives on "200 leased acres with three rescued dogs [which she likes to dress up] and six rescued pot-bellied pigs: Gerty, Kevin, Iris, Willow, Alex and Wilbur." Along with making "millions of dollars" by running her Upper East Side brothel, Gristina was involved in a pig rescue program with Ross Mill Farm and Piggy Camp. She's painted as a hard-working animal lover by some, including Susan Madigan, who runs Ross Mill Farm: “She is one of the most generous people I know with her time and her commitment" and "When people love pigs, in my opinion, they are special and unique — and in my opinion, the chosen ones — because they’re just such a special animal, highly intelligent, emotional animal, so it’s like working with orphans.” A neighbor, however, complained that the pigs were a nuisance: “You always hear the squeals,” he said. “Then you hear a long brake from the cars going by. . . last week one got loose.”
The kids: Gristina is a mom of four, including a 17-year-old son (with Dario), two daughters in their twenties (from a previous husband) and a 9-year-old son with Gorr. One of the strangest bits from the New York Post's story is that the couple initially didn't tell their 9-year-old that Gristina had been arrested and for some reason, he thought she'd instead died, and wrote her a rather heartbreaking letter. He has since been informed that she is alive. “He’s feeling better now,’’ Gorr said. (What!?)
The clients: Like we said, no list. But "A source said Gristina employed 'Penthouse and Playboy models' to service clients who 'were all millionaires except two billionaires — hedge-funders, CEOs and real-estate moguls.'" Gristina's lawyer, however, says as far as he knows, a black book doesn't exist. As speculated yesterday, there might be NYPD involvement on some level, but, per the New York Times, "It is unclear whether the inquiry has uncovered any criminal activity by police officers or public officials." The Post reports that NYPD sergeant Richard Wall had been seen making repeated trips to the East 78th Street building housing Gristina's brothel and that he'd been ordered to appear before the Internal Affairs Bureau. Meanwhile, ADA Charles Linehan told Judge Juan Merchan in court on Tuesday that "wealthy friends and business associates may have 'an interest in not allowing this case to go forward,'" arguing that Gristina's bail not be reduced from $2 million as she might be a flight risk.
The alleged partner-in-crime: "It was revealed that Gristina had a partner-in-crime, Manhattan 'matchmaker' Jaynie Baker, who flew the coop before the two were indicted, sources said [to the Post]. The strawberry-blond Baker, 30, claimed to work for a legitimate Union Square dating service." The New York Times story notes that Gristina has a co-defendent whose name has been blacked out from the indictment, possibly indicating cooperation with the authorities. Baker gets her own articles in the Daily News and DNAinfo.
On "building an empire:" Gristina's apparent emails and Facebook messages, which the Daily News piece focuses on, show a woman adept at humble- and real bragging. “Working very hard,” she wrote. “Building an empire.” Also "takes a lot of work," and "happy where I am." OK.
On style: "Sources said Gristina is a typical mom who wore jeans, a flannel shirt, baseball cap over her ponytail, old boots and a J. Crew barn jacket to drive her kids to school." More recently, "on Tuesday morning, Ms. Gristina entered the courtroom in handcuffs, wearing a black herringbone jacket. As she left, she looked over her shoulder as if looking for someone in particular."
On politics: “Hoping to survive Obama,” she posted in 2008. “Obama wants people like me to support the rest of America by taxing me more than I am already.”
Just another Upper East Side soccer mom.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.