Jul 8 • 9M

Chapter 4, Part 3: The porn star and the Pharma Bro (it’s not what you think)

How my relationship with Martin Shkreli led to my friendship with another woman who had been in the spotlight over her connection to an infamous man.

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My experiences uncovering the story of, and falling in love with, Martin Shkreli.
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Porn star and resilient human Sydney Leathers.
Porn star and incredibly resilient human Sydney Leathers.

Being a woman in the spotlight over a connection to an infamous man is not an experience for the faint of heart. No matter what the situation is, his faults will become your faults in the eyes of the public. His sins will become your sins. The negative feelings people may have about him will be immediately transferred to you.

Piled on top of that, people (including both men and women) will find you to be a suitable target for projections of their own insecurities, or any contempt or spite they’ve ever felt for any woman in their lives. Amid the whirlwind of epithets launched at you over social media — the “c”-word being especially popular, as well as various attacks on your sanity — you’ll be judged as a “fame whore” if you’ve done anything at all to stir this attention…or if you seem to be enduring it cheerfully. 

Granted, I had anticipated this shitstorm and walked into it willingly when I went public about my relationship with “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli in December 2020. And I braced myself for the onslaught and confronted it with assertive defiance on Twitter, which some observers noted. But another woman who had been in my shoes, at least from an optics standpoint, was able to see behind my brave smile, and felt compelled to reach out to me and express her sympathy. She was a porn star named Sydney Leathers. 

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