June 3, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Alexis Wright contrite? Wrong.

The Zumba Madam glides from the spotlight insisting she'd been tricked into turning tricks.

(Continued from page 1)

Meaning Wright, at least in her own mind, was no prostitute. She was a secret agent!

"At first blush this seems too farfetched for anyone to believe," conceded Churchill in her memo. "Nevertheless, text messages between Ms. Wright and Mark Strong Sr. bear it out."

Nice try, counselor. But as much as Wright now wants us to believe cavorting with all those hapless johns was her idea of public service, the evidence suggests otherwise.

What about the videotape, shown at Strong's trial in February, where Wright drops her towel while standing in a picture window so men walking by outside can see her?

"And now I'm going to drop the towel," Wright narrates in the one-minute, 45-second video. "And he's taken notice. They've both taken notice. And they're watching."

Just a thought, but at what point did these two passers-by become "sexual deviants"? Upon their first peek? Their second? When they finally walked headlong into a telephone pole?

Then there's the poor guy who owns Toppings Pizza in the same Kennebunk shopping plaza as Wright's Pura Vida Zumba Studio.

At Strong's trial, the shop owner testified that he once delivered an order of spaghetti and meatballs to Wright at her apartment. There she was in that towel again -- and darned if it didn't fall off just as she was paying him.

It was, the pizza man recounted in one of the trial's more memorable moments, "really awkward."

Churchill, smart attorney that she is, did not pursue the secret-agent defense in her presentation to the court on Friday. Nor did Wright.

Instead, she pinned the blame for her predicament not on herself, but on the madam that Strong "forced me to be."

In fact, Wright told the court, "When I heard (Strong's) ridiculous statement about this being an affair and a friendship (between the two of them), I found it to be incredibly nauseating."

That was incredibly nauseating? And what was having paid sex with every slob who walked through the door to her Zumba studio, a minor case of acid reflux?

Watching Friday's hourlong sentencing unfold, it was hard to avoid the impression that nobody much cared about who said what as long as this case reached its pathetic conclusion: 364 days in jail, with all but 10 months suspended, along with $58,280 in fines and restitution to be paid in installments of $250 per month. (The latter subject to renegotiation, of course, when the movie deal comes through.)

At the same time, the proceeding felt positively buoyed by the realization that Alexis Wright is finally going away. And with her goes the prospect of a trial that everyone, from the judge to the attorneys to the scores of potential witnesses and their innocent families, had long prayed would never happen.

Thus we can read what we want into Justice Mills' final words as Wright, her makeup unstained by tears that never quite fell, retreated to the defense table and a fresh tissue.

"I know you will succeed. I know you will prevail," the judge told the Zumba Madam. "I wish you success."

That and a good agent.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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