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When Ann Landers used the phrase "50 lashes with a wet noodle!" she intended it as an admonishment. Coming from Ashley Dupre, in the era of no shame, the expression could be taken as a recommendation for spicing up life in the bedroom.
“I used to be on the front page of the New York Post. Now I’m writing for it,” she declares in promotional video for “Ask Ashley.”
That she maintains name recognition nearly two years after emerging as Prostitute No. 1 in the Client No. 9 scandal and has parlayed her role into a media gig marks more sad signs there's no longer much difference between fame and infamy.
She also could be blazing paths in the advice field for others in the headlines: the dozen or so alleged mistresses of Tiger Woods could combine on a column for the lovelorn, rotating monthly (or better yet: pose for a group pinup calendar). Imagine a parenting column by Jon Gosselin (Dear Jon: I only have three children, yet I can't seem to find time to step out on my wife!), or party tips from the alleged White House gatecrashers (Dear Uninvited: Don't sweat the snub. Just show up with a nice bottle of wine, a smile and tell them you know the president!)
There’s a tiresome, growing industry of so-called celebrities known for things other than talent and accomplishments, with Reality TV often popping in the mix. Gosselin fathered eight children, got a reality show and revealed himself as a cad. The gatecrashing couple was seeking a reality show and now faces a subpoena from Congress. Woods’ long line of alleged lovers are alternately dodging the press and grabbing the spotlight.
Dupre, of course, is not the first former working girl to find a new outlet in the media: Sydney Biddle Barrows, the Mayflower Madam, and Xaviera Hollander, the Happy Hooker, wrote books and movies were made about them. Perhaps the oddest aspect about “Ask Ashley” is that it's in the almost old-fashioned form of a newspaper advice column. Dupre hasn't gone the reality TV route – yet.
Her debut in the Post comes just days after the paper reported that Spitzer is considering a run for state comptroller in New York, after getting lashed in the media with a lot more than a wet noodle.
Here’s guessing he won't be writing to Dupre for advice on comeback tips.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.