Report from Wuornos-fest: Aint no touchin Jaffe

I don’t get many chances to see films in theaters, so when Monster hit DVD a couple of weeks ago, I was beyond chomping at the bit. Thanks in large part again to Netflix (*natch*), I watched Nick Broomfield‘s double-dip documentaries featuring interviews with Aileen Wuornos and the various con-people (namely, her lawyer Steve Glazer and “adopted mother” Eileen Pralee) who latched onto her after she became the kind of media sensation only a 7-time murderer can become in the good ol US of A.

After watching Broomfield’s films, I was ultimately disappointed in how the documentarian seems right on the verge of discovering/uttering something redeemable in Wuornos, and leaves things hanging right there on that cusp. And when I’m feeling dejected by film, there’s a handful of fiction writers and novelists who never disappoint. In this case, this is when I returned to Harold Jaffe.

His latest collection of short stories, 15 Serial Killers (2003 Raw Dog Screaming Press), is quintessential Jaffe hyperbole, exploring the grim margins of our culture’s fascination with celebrity, sex and violence. Jaffe did a treatment of Wuornos‘ post-trial ordeals with Pralee (lovingly renamed here as “Helga-Lee”) and Glazer (fittingly redubbed “Medved”), who systematically begin selling the film, book, and TV rights to Aileen’s awful story before she is even convicted.

[excerpt:]

At what point does Helga-Lee decide to adopt Lee Wuornos?

Soon after Lee testifies in court that she had sex with 250,000 johns.

Whole lotta penises. The court admits that claim?

Florida has something called the Williams Rule, which admits as evidence whatever information might establish a pattern. Technically, Lee Wuornos is being tried for the murder of Richard Mallory, but both her public defenders and the prosecution think they could make good use of the 250,000 johns. The prosecution portrays her as a sex-addict, moronically compulsive; the defense claims that all the abuse she suffers balling and blowing 250,000 johns finally reaches the boiling point.

Neither side questions the figure? 250,000?

Both sides think it’s exaggerated, but maybe by not that much. One thing–probably the only thing–Lee has been blessed with is robust health. She’s an exit to exit freeway ho who worked fast. She was known for how fast she worked. Plus she’s been doing it since age 14.

In the clips I saw Lee Wuornos didn’t look all that robust.

Well, her face was shot from all the booze, speed, rough sex, lack of sleep. You couldn’t really see her bone structure through the prison garb. But Lee Wuornos is–was–a strapping, big-boned female. Very imposing. The opposite of her namesake and step-mom, the demure Helga-Lee Uberroth.

They’re already tight. Why does Helga-Lee want to adopt Wuornos?

Could have to do with getting closer to the big money Lee is likely to make through books and articles and movies. The new law is that inmates cannot profit from their crimes, but if the money is channeled to her adoptive mother . . .

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