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Rolling Stone Profiles Michelle Braun; Naomi, Krystal Steal and Taryn Thomas Named by Feds

If WWE’s Ashley Massaro ain’t the hooker Rolling Stone says she is, then Jann Wenner’s in for a nice lawsuit.

In its May 15, 2008 issue, Rolling Stone profiles Michelle Braun [pictured]. You probably know her as Nici from Nici’s Girls, the escort agency.

And everyone in the porn industry should. That’s because Luke Ford is quoted in the article as saying “Almost every porn star is an escort now.”

Which may not be too far off the mark considering that the DVD business was last seen putting a gun to its head. Besides, supplementing one’s income is always a commendable idea in these tough times.

Rob Spallone is also quoted in the article as saying, “We were always worried about the government killing our business. Ironically, we ended up flooding the market and killing it ourselves.”

Among some of the names being named in the sordid performer by day, hooker by night scandal, besides Massaro, are ClubJenna contract girl Krystal Steal and porn chicks Naomi and Taryn Thomas; Playboy playmates Tisharo Cousino and Tina Jordan; and Penthouse Pet Lanny Barby.

The story begins with Braun, six months pregnant at the time in Istanbul having a meeting with Hakan Uzan, a cellular service company billionaire. Uzan’s in the presidential suite of one of Turkey’s most prestigious hotels. He’s watching soccer on TV.

Uzan strikes a deal with Braun to have a bunch of Playboy Playmate-types serve as his harem. Not so much for sex but for male status, he tells Braun. It’s noted in the story that Braun has or had access to the girls in Hefner’s mansion through one of Hefner’s own girlfriends. For this occasion Uzan was willing to pay eight girls each $25,000. One of the girls who made the trip was a porn star named Angelica.

Hazan would eventually end up in the center of an embezzlement scandal, but before the shit hit the fan had spent $3 million with Braun and gave her a lot of word-of-mouth advertising.

In turn, prominent athletes, TV stars and Fortune 500 CEO’s sought out Braun’s services and Braun was able to recruit “the pinnacle of L.A. beauty” including models for Maxim and FHM. According to Braun, Paris Hilton even agreed to come aboard if she were given $10,000 a night.

[Hilton’s people call this story absurd.]

Braun is described by one madam as “The Ben & Jerry’s of high-end escorting,” meaning that she was the first person to figure out the business and everyone else followed her lead. [Courtesans long before Braun figured out this deal, to be sure.]

About the time Braun struck the Istabul accord is when the FBI paid her a visit looking for money Uzan was supposed to have sent in cash by FedEx. That search came up with nothing, but this past October the Feds came back – this time with a warrant.

The Feds figure Braun has taken in at least $8.5 million in prostitution and money laundering. Braun, meanwhile, insists that hers is an eligible boy meets an eligible girl operation and nothing more than that.

Here’s one fact that writer Vanessa Grigoriadis obviously gets wrong: “Popular ‘actresses” have seen their fees plunge by a third to $1,000 per scene.” No one’s taking pay cuts and $1,000 has been pretty much the standard for a long time.

“For Playmates and porn stars, there’s only one way left to supplement their income: meeting fans in private settings,” Grigoriadis goes on to write. Meanwhile, Braun’s attorney Marc Nurik calls it, “similar to a sports enthusiast paying to meet Peyton Manning.”

Grigoriadis goes on to describe Braun’s bimbo looks as being at odds with a voice that is as “low-pitched” as it can get without having a dick attached to the other end of the body. She doesn’t say it exactly in those words, but you get the point.

The article states that Braun thrived on a legal loophole that allows for paid introductions between adults who may decide on engaging in intercourse.

The men who seek out the companionship of celebrity T&A are known as hobbyists. Other well known sites visited by these guys are Fling.com, seeking arrangement.com and sugardaddy.com.

Hourly rates in the business range from $150 for a Motel 6 prostitute; $350 for in-call at Vegas casinos, to a minimum of $1,000 for elite, membership-only escorts.

According to the article, Braun’s parents owned a Baskin-Robbins franchise in Bakersfield and pampered her with gifts like a purple Chevy truck with pink flames. Braun’s also described as a popular girl who enjoyed wielding power over her clique of friends. She went to San Diego University and apparently majored in partying. Braun describes herself as “a computer geek with a party girl persona.”

Braun eventually dropped out of school to be with a fashion designer who was 14 years her senior. He picked her up while she was shopping one afternoon on Melrose Avenue. He eventually dumped her and Braun went to work at The Century Club. There she was paid by management to sit pretty girls with big spenders. She got even more intrigued by the notion of pimping when one of those big spenders gave her a $500 tip for setting him up.

Braun then began advertising girls on the ‘Net with the slogan, “It’s me or it’s free.”

Charlie Sheen answered one of her ads. He wanted four girls and gave Braun a $20,000 check for several hours of fun and games. Then when Sheen was ordered to rehab, Braun arranged for girls to meet him at a doctor’s office in Los Angeles. [Gee, couldn’t the doc get in trouble over this article?]

Until last year Braun was setting Sheen up with girls who would meet him at a hotel in Santa Monica.

Braun began charging $10,000 a night for her top girls plus $5,000 for membership on her website, nicisgirls.com. One unnamed Penthouse Pet supposedly made $200,000 a year working for Braun, while Braun recruited a lot of her girls by the friends-telling-friends method.

One of Braun’s alleged clients was Mortgage broker Michael Fanghella who spent nearly $14 million of his clients money on Vivid contract girl Kelly Jaye. Fanghella subsequently got 10 years for defrauding his investors.

Mark Yagalla, a hedge fund manager from Philadelphia, supposedly offered Braun $500,000 to set him up with a girlfriend who he’d supply with a car, house and allowance. Yagalla wound up buying Playboy playmate Tishara Cousino a Mercedes and an $850,000 house.

But his generosity also extended to Sandy Bentley, one of Hefner’s girlfriends. He gave her a $1.7 million house, two Rolexes and six cars including a white Bentley convertible and a red Ferrari spider. Yagalla, too, earned his money the old fashioned way. He stole 32 million from investors and got five years.

At the time the FBI paid Braun a visit about the FedEx’ed money from Uzan, Yagalla told them he had sent Braun millions in the mail to start an adult video company.

Braun claimed he never sent that money and couldn’t believe that Yagalla, who also stiffed her for $250,000 besides, would rat her out that way. Braun continued to hide her occupation from friends and family claiming she was a travel agent.

Another story tells how Braun accompanied two of her girls on a trip to the king’s palace in Jordan. They were picked up in a bullet-proof stretch Escalade. Braun also expanded her business to Dubai. But the more her business grew the more girls she seemed to lose. There was competition from more emerging online escort agencies. And, in the second oldest game in the world, the escorts would cheat Braun out of her cut by booking directly with the clients.

Competing agencies also ratted her out to Child Services as an unfit mother. After her marriage fell apart, Braun moved to South Florida and remarried. Her new husband is Farrell Kellener, a novelist and radio announcer.

When Exotica 2000, an agency which specialized in porn stars, was shut down in 2005 by the authorities, Braun stepped in.

She opened a new agency called Bella Models and operated on the cheaper, assembly line principle. The membership fee was cut to $2500 and Braun would book women for $1500 an hour. She even lowered her standards: “any porn star would do,” she said.

Even with that Braun started getting frustrated.

“The majority of them [the girls] are stupid and they make half a million dollars a year and then come to me later piss-broke because they spent it on clothes or cocaine or whatever.”

More troubles developed for Braun with the Feds. Her brother-in-law claimed she had a safe full of cash buried in her garage. Then in April 2006 an FBI agent using the name George Tarpinsky joined Bella Models as a client.

A search warrant was executed. The FBI began tracking e-mails and that’s how Ashley Massaro’s name surfaced. The Feds also monitored AVN Best New starlet Naomi and ClubJenna girl Krystal Steal.

In one exchange a John complained about Taryn Thomas citing among other things, Thomas’ horrible attitude. Braun, in turn, e-mailed Thomas some friendly advice stating that it was guys like this who kept her career going. When Tarpinsky booked a playboy.com model for $4500 last October, is when the Feds armed with the warrant raided Braun’s house with a SWAT team toting machine guns.

According to Braun, who was naked when they stormed into the house with flash bombs, one of the Feds picked up a pair of jeans belonging to a friend of hers. A bag of cocaine fell out and Braun was also booked on drug charges.

Because girls are now putting her at distance due to her legal woes, Braun’s working on selling a reality show called Girls of Ocean Drive centered on the South Beach lifestyle.

“I’m used to having a hundred girls kissing my ass for work, texting me every second, and now they’re terrified to talk to me,” Braun says.

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