Future Prez poses with Slovenian woman and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at Mar-a-Lago. Good times!

Future Prez poses with Slovenian woman and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at Mar-a-Lago. Good times!

Donald Trump has been backing away from his old chum Jeffrey Epstein with a speed that has Einstein spinning like a lathe. And really, who could blame him? While the methmouth grampappies in his trailerpark base gave him a nod and one-eyed wink at the pussy-grabbing tape and a knowing nudge in the ribs when he rawdogged a pornstar while the wife’s episiotomy was still scabbing, even they might shudder, just a bit, at his chilling with a pedophile.

And while there is little to associate Trump with pedophilia except his association with Epstein, frequently reported intrusion into teenage girls’ dressing rooms in the Miss Universe Pageant, and of course open erotic fascination with his own daughter—I’ll just stop there.

What is of interest, however momentarily, as the Epstein scandal unfolds in the Southern District, is Trump’s storied taste for prostitutes. I choose my words carefully. Trump famously—and he thought, rhetorically—asked James Comey whether he looked like the kind of guy who’d have to pay for hookers. (He actually looks like the kind of guy who’d be courtside center at the Tuesday afternoon matinee at the Beaver Trap in Muncie, but leave that aside.) But—again, having chosen my words carefully—Trump’s fondness for daughters of the game was sufficiently well-known in 90’s New York to find its way into the ouvre of a major American writer.

Jonathan Ames’ 1998 novel The Extra Man is a melancholy-hysterical portrait of life in early-nineties Manhattan, still recovering from the Bush recession—GHWB’s, not W’s. Its narrator is a young man freshly fired from the faculty of an elite prep school for trying on a colleague’s bra. He takes a squalid room on the Upper East Side from the title character, who enhances the impoverished lifestyle of a failed playwright and Queensborough College adjunct by serving as an extra man at the parties of aged socialites. On one occasion, he accompanies one such mummified date to Palm Beach for high-society New Years and reports the following:

Trump tried to break in again. He threw a party at Mar-a-Lago the night of the Red Cross Ball. Said he was going to have beautiful models. They were nothing but prostitutes, and at the end of the party they did the inevitable—jumped into the pool. So he’s finished for another year. Too vulgar. (p.308.)

Of course, in 1998 Trump was just a multiply bankrupt laughingstock , opposed to his present position as most powerful person in the world and laughingstock. Yet as this fictive kernel from his past suggests, back in the day, he was known to pay.

So one wonders, as the Epstein case is prosecuted not by the organized crime unit, but public corruption, just what public officials were the co-conspirators in the sweetheart deal US Attorney Alex Acosta—now, somehow, Labor Secretary—went to such extraordinary lengths to craft.