EW Staff
July 19, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

I’ve met Heidi Fleiss and I knew Madam Alex, and the only thing Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam reveals about both of them is that they’re accomplished liars. There’s so much finger-pointing — so many conflicting stories — that you don’t learn anything. It’s as if director Nick Broomfield threw up his hands and let these dysfunctional people ramble on.

Broomfield states that his mission was to find out who Heidi was. How’d she get into the business? How’d she become Hollywood’s most famous madam? These are questions the film never really answers.

You can tell Heidi loves to gamble. My theory is that her onetime lover, washed-up TV and film director Ivan Nagy, covered her debts and, as a way of recovering them, brought her to Madam Alex [which Nagy has denied]. Heidi wasn’t that ”California girl” Alex’s Arab clients wanted, though, so she carved her own niche. Unfortunately, she bragged that her escort service was bigger than Alex’s; not a smart move in a business that thrives on discretion. The movie is worth watching, however, to see former police chief Daryl Gates scooping up money like a hooker for agreeing to answer Broomfield’s questions. I’ve spoken to madams around the country, and nowhere else are the police so involved.

Still, for a documentary, there isn’t much information about the escort business. It suggests that Heidi made $1 million a year; I did the math, and she’d have to have 20 girls out every hour of the day. That just doesn’t happen.

The one statement that is on the money is that blonds have more fun. Men still want tall, busty blonds under 25, and if I’d had enough of them when I ran my escort service, Cachet, I’d be living on Park Avenue right now. D

Sydney Biddle Barrows, a.k.a. the Mayflower Madam, pleaded guilty in 1985 to promoting prostitution. She is the author of the advice book Just Between Us Girls (St. Martin’s Press).

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