Enjoy the Limelight for Now, Ashley Dupre!

America’s Obsession with No Names Only Lasts 15 Minutes


Published: April 3, 2008

The former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, resigned on March 12 after a shattering sex scandal brought his term to an abrupt close. In the ultimate ironic hypocrisy, Spitzer, a crusader who spent most of his political career advocating high morality and ethics, saw his office crumble around him as allegations arose about his connections to a ring of high-class prostitutes. On March 13, The New York Times ran an article exposing the real identity of one of Spitzer’s favored escorts. Ashley Alexandra Dupre, aka “Kristen,” a high class call girl employed by the Emperors’ Club escort service, was allegedly paid $1000 an hour for time with the former governor.

Thanks to Spitzer, Ashley Alexandra Dupre’s name has made it into the temporary American limelight. (Chuck Kennedy/MCT)

In the resulting media feeding frenzy, 22-year-old Dupre has been ushered into the limelight for her requisite 15 minutes of fame. And what a 15 minutes it has been. So far, Dupre has supposedly been offered million-dollar contracts for full-page spreads with magazines such as Hustler and Penthouse. Her face has been splashed across the front pages of several local sensationalist tabloid papers. Dupre’s MySpace page (www.myspace.com/ninavenetta) has had over 10 million page views. An aspiring songwriter and singer, her R&B-flavored, independently produced single, “What You Want,” has been listened to over four and a half million times on the aforementioned page alone. That pop tune has been played and replayed on several local stations, including Z100. Even “The Insider,” CBS’s celebrity gossip show, ran a feature including clips from a grammar school performance of “Grease” with Dupre in the starring role.

Is this exploitation? The media has stuck their noses into every aspect of Dupre’s life, staking out outside of her house, interviewing her relatives and friends, and ogling every one of her MySpace pictures. Even The New York Times reported on simple details of the escort’s life, recalling tales of Dupre’s past and the supposed abuse that filled her childhood. Is it right for the media to pry into Dupre’s every move, recounting every sordid detail of her existence?

No, this shouldn’t be the role of the news media. Reporters should report on news that is newsworthy. Broadcasts and print journalism should be filled with pertinent facts presented in an objective manner regarding important events and news happening on a local, national, and global level. Yes, the primary function of the news is to inform. But what does a childhood stage production have to do with anything? Why should this be relevant to my viewing habits? Do I really need to listen to the poorly produced and awful-sounding cliché of a song (and I did listen to it—unfortunately) that Eliot Spitzer’s illicit bedmate produced?

The answer is no. None of these items are even remotely newsworthy. The most disgusting thing about this entire affair is that Spitzer, an elected government official, has been somewhat pushed into the background. I cannot blame the media entirely for this, however. Apparently, we, the people of the United States, would rather look at yearbook photos of a prostitute than worry about the corruption in our government. There exists in our country, the fascinating, morbid curiosity that pushes us to dissect and pick and pry at people temporarily thrown into the limelight. I’m not excluding myself from these accusations—after all, I did decide to write this opinions piece.

However, even with the use of loaded words like “exploitation” and “prying eyes,” I’m not naïve enough to believe that Dupre isn’t enjoying her temporary fame. Reuters recently reported that she might have already made as much as $680,000 from song downloads and publicity alone. Millions of people know her name, her face, her voice. If anything, it is the prostitute, the object of exploitation, who has benefited the most from this debacle. How much control she has over this notoriety remains to be seen, but for now, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, enjoy your 15 minutes.