November 20, 2001 08:10am
The Porn Star vs. The Neighbors
Source: Palm Beach Post
by: Paul Lomartire
(WEST PALM BEACH, FL) -- Bianca Trump is a porn actress. Kim Turner is the friend who stood by her when life got ugly. The two white women were beaten by 10 to 15 of their black neighbors last month in a late-night street brawl in the Northwood Hills neighborhood near downtown West Palm Beach. Bianca went to the hospital with a black eye and concussion. Kim got slapped around. But no charges were filed; no report made it into the newspaper.
That's because this fight has been festering for 18 months - and when it finally boiled over, witnesses disagreed about who threw the first punch. What no one disagrees with is this: Bianca Trump's war with her neighbors is the worst dispute of its kind the West Palm Beach police have ever seen. It started over 4 inches of property line -- and then it got personal. And scary.
Now, sick of the venom, vandalism and violence, Trump and Turner are trying to sell their historic homes in the predominantly black neighborhood they spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to improve.
West Palm Beach Mayor Joel Daves says Trump and Turner are two of the best neighborhood activists he knows. But the fact is real: The women have neighbors who hate them. And the fear is real. Turner keeps a letter near her bed that begins "After the events of Oct. 10 that are on record with the City of West Palm Beach Police Department, I believe that should I come to harm or be incapacitatedů."
Her letter goes on, recounting a string of twisted events that sounds like the plot of a bad cable movie. The deeper you go into the next-door war on Westview Avenue, the uglier the story gets.
No one knows how the war will end, but everyone knows when it started. In March 2000, Bianca Trump moved into her dream house at 3916 Westview Ave. For $165,000, she bought a "castle" house that came with a fairy-tale history: The two-story Mediterranean revival home, built in 1922 to look like a castle, sits atop a hill, overlooking what used to be one of West Palm Beach's grandest neighborhoods.
Trump moved in with history of her own. She's famous -- one of the porn industry's biggest names, though "Bianca Trump" is just a stage name, a name that has sold thousands of Triple-X videos. Bianca is afraid to tell her real name, because of threats, first, from stalkers. And, now, from her own neighbors.
Today, nearly 80 years after the castle first reigned over Northwood Hills, the kingdom's turned shabby. The view from Trump's front porch shows boarded houses, overgrown shrubs and grass around homes with peeling paint, sagging fences and ripped screens that seem to breathe with each breeze. Their house, a split-level built in 1957, has a market value of $74,112. The property appraiser says Trump's house is worth $136,430.
This is what happened when Fred Stubbs met Bianca Trump in March 2000.
Stubbs' version: The first words from her were an expletive-laced rant about his hibiscus bushes scratching her car when she used her driveway. "I couldn't believe it. I said, trying to be neighborly, 'Listen, if these hedges are on your side, you can trim them . . . She butchered them. I was upset. I told her, 'They'll grow back, but please don't touch them again.' "
Trump's version: As Fred was getting into his SUV, she walked up, her hand outstretched, and introduced herself. "He said, 'I don't shake hands with the blond-haired, blue-eyed devil.' My laughing response was that I didn't know I needed to have my roots done. He just looked at my hand. I put it down. I said, 'I just wanted to introduce myself and ask you about the hibiscus bushes. Are they mine or yours?' He said his property line was to the edge of my driveway. I asked if he minded if I cut them back, and he just exhaled loudly and said, 'Whatever,' and drove off."
There are two far-different versions of every encounter between Trump and Stubbs. Belligerent bushes, Trump's driveway, the Stubbs' fence, mangoes falling from the three-story tree in the Stubbs' yard and bouncing off the cars in Trump's driveway. On and on. Always two versions -- and never any witnesses. The same goes for vandalism.
Trump's tires have been slashed three times. White paint was thrown on her car and the back window smashed. Mail's been stolen. The Stubbs' SUV, walkway, doors and steps were doused with rancid fish oil. Lug nuts were taken off their son's tires. White paint was thrown on the house. A voodoo doll and candles were placed on their retaining wall.
"She harasses us, vandalized us and is trying to run us out by making life miserable," Stubbs says, softly. "I thought if you worked hard in America," his voice trails off. "It's just very, very frustrating."
A porn star is born
On Nov. 7, her 29th birthday, Bianca Trump is sick and broke and a week past a Chapter 13 bankruptcy hearing. She wears more eyeliner than pretense. She's not looking for anyone's approval. "It's my body, and I'll do with it what I want," she begins.
She got into the Triple-X movie business soon after high school in Brooklyn after a short, failed marriage to her teen sweetheart. She left New York for Seattle, where a girlfriend took her in and took her to work at a nude dance club. At 19, Bianca Trump became gainfully employed in the business of nudity. When a photographer offered her cash to pose for Penthouse, she was off to Los Angeles. After more work for Hustler, High Society and other skin magazines, she was offered $30,000 to do her first porn film, Two of A Kind. A movie company paid for breast implants to take her from a 34-C to 36-DDD. "It wasn't for size, it was for shape," she says. "It's all based on looks -- are you buyer friendly?" Porn actors are paid by the scene -- $250 to $5,500 -- for a video that can be made as quickly as one day.
Trump entered the porn movie business as a "box-cover girl," meaning she got an extra $500 because her name and photo were featured on the videocassette box. It was a shrewd move. If you enter the business as a "filler girl," she warns, you get no billing and no box photo -- and you have no future. With her first big paycheck for Two of A Kind, she bought a forest-green Dodge Stealth with leather interior.
"I was afraid of stocks, scared of giving anyone my money to invest," she explains. "I wasted it on rent, car payments and things I thought were cool, like new sports cars. You can't give $30,000 to a 19-year-old kid and expect them to go to a brokerage house to invest it."
Bianca Trump became a big name who worked with other big names -- Savannah, Tori Wells, Ron Jeremy. She became a TV guest - Howard Stern, Jenny Jones, Geraldo. She quickly realized no one gets rich making porn movies, but you could cash in if you diversified -- doing film roles, headlining at nude clubs, merchandising lingerie and selling subscriptions to a personal Web site.
Once Trump had all four cash sources going strong, she racked up $200,000 to $500,000 a year. In four years, she appeared in 215 or so videos, some 30 magazine layouts and headlined on the nude-club circuit before starting an L.A. escort service. By the time she was 24, she was burned out and working as an escort in Broward County. Relying on income from her Web site -- with subscriptions of $39.95 a month -- Trump cut out films and cut back on dancing when she moved from Broward to Northwood Hills in March 2000. She planned to live quietly and renovate her first home, and for nine months, she did. She researched the architect of her castle and studied other homes he designed. She stripped away walls and floors, room by room, and built them back. She saved her receipts: Home Depot, $24,856.01; Lowes, $4,571.46. Her hands became rough, her fingernails short and ignored.
Trump applied the same zeal to cleaning up the neighborhood.
She memorized city codes and dug through court files to root out slumlords. She wrote the neighborhood association's newsletter, built and maintained its Web site. When the association decided to feature a shame-of-the-month eyesore, Trump reported it. She and Turner headed up the Help-A-Neighbor program for those too old, sick or poor to fix their own code violations.
Trump's style bothered some people. She could be abrasive with code enforcement officers and cops when she thought revitalization took too long. "She and some of the others expected to turn it into Disney World overnight," says a police officer, "and it doesn't work that way."
Then, last January, someone sent an anonymous complaint to Palm Beach County commissioners. It alleged that a woman named Bianca Trump operated a pornographic Web site without a permit from her home. Officials didn't pursue the complaint, but the publicity convicted Trump in the neighborhood. Bianca Trump would soon learn that a porn star can help clean up the streets -- but it's tougher to clean up a reputation.
She became an easy target.
Any neighbor with a gripe over a code violation had someone to blame -- even though the neighborhood association's get-tough clean-up strategy spared no one, including the group's president, Debra Neger, who was written up for three code violations. After Trump was "outed" as a porn star, her black neighbors turned up the heat. Meanwhile, her own body turned against her.
Her leaking breast implants caused silicone poisoning, which, in turn, led to fibromyalgia, an incurable and crippling condition that affects joints. Bianca Trump, whose business provides no 401(k) or health insurance, had spent $500,000 for eight operations to replace her implants. Her medication costs $300 a month, and doctor visits cost $175 a pop. "Your joints can hurt so bad, you can't sit up in bed," she says. Still, she fears removing the implants more than the pain. "Then my career would be over," she says, matter-of-factly. "The reduction scars would be hideous." Scars matter for a woman in her line of work. Especially when she's out of money. The last of her cash went into renovating the Northwood Hills house, which is now up for sale -- for $325,000. "For me to justify my lifestyle, we can agree to disagree," says Trump, "but we have to get on with our lives. "It's hard to be me."
Racial tension in the neighborhood
It's also hard to pinpoint why Trump is so unpopular among her black neighbors. Is it her porn business? Her salty language? Or the fact that she tried to clean up the neighborhood? Trump's friend Kim Turner, who lives in another castle home next door, also was aggressive in trying to revive the neighborhood. She moved to Northwood Hills in 1998, hoping the neighborhood had the same potential as Northwood's other districts. Fifteen years ago, you could buy a fixer-upper in nearby Northwood Shores, Old Northwood or Northboro Park for $50,000 to $60,000. Today, homes in those Northwood districts can fetch more than $600,000. Northwood Hills has not yet enjoyed a renaissance.
Three years ago, a house worth fixing in Northwood Hills would go for around $16,000, and after hundreds of Home Depot trips and gallons of sweat, it'd be worth $40,000 today. "But that should be $80,000," says Northwood Realtor Claudia Deprez, who lives in top-dollar Northwood Shores and has been selling homes in the area since 1984. What's holding down prices, she says, is chronic crime and the fact that 25 percent of Northwood Hills homes are owned by absentee landlords. Boarded-up eyesores stain nearly every block in the 900-home neighborhood.
Northwood neighborhood activists, including Deprez, declared war with City Hall on Oct. 1, when they went to the West Palm Beach City Commission with the message: "We will not tolerate your indifference, your excuses, your management of the issues by crisis any longer." Their beef with the city is the area west of Broadway, a thoroughfare that serves as a blight border.
East of Broadway is safer and cleaner than west of Broadway, where Northwood Hills resident Ann Washington lives and struggles and is ready to tell you about problems ranging from packs of surly teens to packs of surly dogs -- plus the usual crack sales, burglaries and public drunks. "This could be a beautiful neighborhood," she says, "but this is a pure hell living here." Washington, an auditor for an electronics business who has lived here for 20 years, is afraid to sit in her yard or walk her cockapoo, Sheba, after the sun sets.
"They hate my guts here because I call police when I see a crime. It's a losing battle. They come to my door and call me names, say I think I live in Palm Beach." She lives with her daughter Elise, 34, who says calling the police accomplishes little. "God forbid a holiday, they're shooting guns," Elise says. "I have to sleep on the floor because you don't know when a bullet's going to fly through the window." The mother and daughter have heard about the brawl that happened a few blocks over on Oct. 10. They know Bianca Trump and Kim Turner through the Help-A-Neighbor program. Trump and Turner cleaned up Ann Washington's yard and trimmed her trees. "They're trying to clean up the neighborhood, and I'm proud of that," says Ann. "All our problems are from our people, and I'm not happy to say that," adds Elise.
Feuding over the neighborhood codes
When Shantelle Ulmer looks up from her small home on 39th Street -- rented with government assistance -- she sees Trump's castle house up the hill. "Because you have a big house," she says, "you can't look down on everyone." For Ulmer, 34, and her three kids -- 16, 11, 3 -- the Northwood Hills neighborhood is plush compared with her last house in Riviera Beach. "That was a drug neighborhood," she says.
When attacking Trump, Ulmer hits cruise control and keeps going.
"She says I stole her mail, danged her car. She said I was on crack. She said this child," she points to her teen daughter, "who has been on the honor roll, she said she sits in the front yard with boyfriends and smokes crack and pot." When her water was turned off, Ulmer continues, Trump told her 11-year-old son he was stinky. "She calls my kids welfare kids . . . I'm not on welfare, I get home assistance." "I'm sorry I'm poor. I'm trying to do better, but she has no right to get inside my private life."
Ulmer says she never threw paint on Trump's car. "I'd rather just slap her in the face and get that satisfaction rather than pour paint on her car. She put sugar in my gas tank and wrecked my car so I had to quit nursing school."
In June, Ulmer went to court to get protection from the father of her 3-year-old son, an oft-arrested man with tattoos -- "Murder" and "#1 Killer" -- who, she told the court, usually travels with a .9mm and .22-caliber pistol. "I fear for my life and the lives of my children," she told the court. Among other reasons she needed protection: The man "sold drugs out of my house" and "stole and purposely wrecked my car."
When confronted with that version of who wrecked her car, Ulmer mellows a bit. "I don't feel like she (Trump) has to move. Just leave my kids alone. Cuss me out every day, but leave them alone. She knows that." A half-hour later, #1 Killer arrives at Ulmer's house. The protection she sought from the court was dismissed when she failed to appear.
New neighbor, old history
Fred Stubbs claims he's the victim of an ugly mess. To prove it, he tells of his peaceful history with the former owners of Trump's castle. Just before he moved into his home in May 1993 -- he was single back then-- his old neighbors built a driveway alongside their garage. The new driveway went up right up to Stubbs' property line, leaving four inches of his knee=high retaining wall vulnerable to cars squeezing up the narrow driveway. "It was a cause for concern, but I took the high road, " he reports. "I'm not one to escalate things."
When Trayce Santoro, his former neighbor who built the driveway, hears that, she's quick with corrections. "Freddie had just bought the house, my driveway was up, and everything was hunky-dory," she says. And, yes, the four inches of retaining wall was a problem even before he moved in, she adds. It got knocked down when the driveway was poured, so a month later, when he moved in, she told him she'd pay to have it fixed. She also offered to pay to have railroad ties used instead of a fence to separate their property. He said OK.
"I happen to bump in to Freddie about a week after this conversation, " she continues, "and I had my boyfriend with me, who's now my husband. (Fred) was cordial. But after that, all hell broke loose."
Explains her husband, Phil, over the phone: "Trayce's black, and I'm white."
Fred started digging up the agreed-upon railroad-tie border as soon as she saw it, she says. "We had a big argument. It was not about 2 inches over or 2 inches under. It was all personal, and to me it was a racial thing, because he was nice to me prior to knowing that my husband was white."
Phil's first go-'round with Fred Stubbs was over a couple inches of dead grass along the disputed property line. "We got into it a little bit and he says, 'you cracker, you.' I said 'Hey if you're trying to get me upset, cracker doesn't bother me.'" Stubbs' 4 inches of retaining wall was a recurring problem.
"Fred was cool for the most part, " Phil said. "We didn't want to flake him out too much. He could get triggered off pretty easily." After Phil's job transferred them to Connecticut from West Palm Beach two years ago, their castle home was sold to Trump by a mortgage company. The Santoros have never met of heard of Bianca Trump. "Is she black or white?" asks Phil. She's white. "Oh my goodness," says Trayce.
Fred and Cynthia Stubbs
Fred Stubbs, 41, a planner for Palm Beach County's bus system, Palm Tran, seems like an unlikely person to be in the middle of a war over a retaining wall. This slim, polite, soft-speaking University of Florida grad earned a master's at Florida Atlantic University. He likes to read science fiction, and he puts Miami Heat flags on his SUV during NBA playoffs. He fashions himself a pretty good cook. His spaghetti's a crowd pleaser. Seven years ago, he married Cynthia, 37, who is as gracious as her husband. They raise her two children, now 18 and 17, and have a 4-year-old daughter together.
The Stubbs' living room is filled with her porcelain and china dolls. A slim woman, she's using crutches and wearing a knee brace now-- because she tore a ligament during the fight on Oct. 10, when, she says, Trump's boyfriend, Joey, pushed her down. (She doesn't have any medical records to prove that because the hospital wouldn't give them to her, she says.) When told that neighbors say they've seen her using a cane before the brawl, she seems confused, then mentions an old knee injury. Her medical history includes a 1990 workers comp claim. She was a maintenance worker at The Boca News when a 20-pound press machine cover fell on her head and shoulders. She agreed to a lump sum settlement of $450,000 in September 1995 from which her lawyer got $80,000. In January 1996, the court declared her incapacitated. Her mother was named her guardian. In September 1997, the court restored her to full capacity.
Her husband's memory is clarified, too, a week later, when he's told that his former neighbors, Trayce and Phil, describe their relationship differently from the way he had. He didn't mean there were never any disputes before Trump, Stubbs says.
When asked if he hates white people, he looks bewildered. "No, no," he says, "of course not." He asks if it's true that in one year Trump made a half-million bucks in the porn business. He asks if it's true that she's broke. He offers no hint of sympathy.
Living side-by-side in their castle homes, they act like sisters, but couldn't be more different. Bianca Trump listens to Nine Inch Nails. Kim Turner listens to James Taylor. Trump watches MTV's Real World. Turner loves Absolutely Fabulous. While Trump, 29, was in L.A. five years ago grinding out movies such as Brassiere to Eternity, Turner, 32, was gaining local fame with her all-female comedy troupe, Big Purse and Matching Shoes. Now, she makes a living teaching mosaic glass art and is about to start a job as a TV producer.
Trump can be loud and animated. When making a point, she'll use her right hand, a cigarette pinched between fingers, as she pokes toward you saying, "You mean to tell me..." Turner does more listening than talking. Trump expects the worst and will deal with it. Turner is shocked when the worst happens and teaches herself to deal with it.
Trump and Turner made a good team in helping the neighborhood association. "(Bianca) and Kim are the good guys," says Bob Steed, a West Palm Beach firefighter who lives in Northwood Hills. "When people like that move out of the neighborhood, it'll go downhill. The other people involved have done nothing for the neighborhood. They're the villains."
But by late summer, as threats increased and hopes dimmed that police could solve the problems, association members abandoned Trump and Turner. Trump says, "I've said all along to the police, 'What do you want me to do?' I've filed all the reports, gone to get all the documents. I've done everything they've told me, and they do nothing."
Through the worst of this ongoing war, Turner's mother, Christine Goodman, was visiting and got dragged into the mess. In July, her 1992 Plymouth Voyager was stolen from Turner's driveway on the same day that Trump's tires were slashed. The van was never found. Her mother left three weeks ago when she received a death threat.
"To live this is one thing, but to live this and have no one believe you is incredible," says Turner. Bianca isn't perfect, Turner says. She's done dumb things, like blowing a boat horn every hour throughout one night. She put a sign in her yard and posted a note on her Web site offering to give away the house free -- to someone who would buy her porn business for $325,000. Then there was the time she painted Wicca symbols on the garage facing the Stubbs' house. That attracted Sunday church ladies who stared at the symbols and spoke in tongues.
"In her heart," Turner says, "she's really a good person. No one, no matter what they do or say, no one should lay their hands on her. "Mostly, I'm just sad. I'm sad for the children in this neighborhood. They walk past crack bags to go to school, they hear their parents' racial epitaphs, and they're rewarded for violence. "The children of this neighborhood deserve more."
Oct. 10: The dispute gets violent
On the night when Trump's war got violent, neighborhood children were right in the middle of it. The fight started, Trump told police, after she and her boyfriend, Joey Paragone, came home from dinner at 10 p.m. Alongside Trump's driveway, Cynthia and Fred Stubbs were repairing their 4 inches of retaining wall that Trump had destroyed with a sledgehammer that afternoon. She did that, she said, after she found white paint thrown on her black Lexus. The Stubbs, too, had white paint thrown on the side of their house.
Trump told police that because of the car vandalism, she was using Kim Turner's driveway. With her car motor running, she was waiting for her boyfriend to move his car out of Kim's driveway when she was dragged into the street where her neighbor, Shantelle Ulmer, and others started punching her.
Ulmer told police that the fight started when Trump jumped out of her car, screamed the N-word and attacked her. Ultimately, 10 to 15 people -- mostly teens, one a child of 11, according to police reports -- were in the middle of the brawl.
Turner got involved when she tried to peel punchers off Trump, and she, too, was beaten. She would later tell a detective that she and Paragone were defenseless in the melee because "neither of us would hit children." Police didn't make any arrests because of the conflicting accounts. Emergency workers sent the injured from each side to different emergency rooms. Cynthia Stubbs was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center with a damaged knee. Trump was taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center with injuries including a concussion. Paragone went to Good Sam with a fractured orbital bone.
After Fred Stubbs and his wife gave a statement to police the night of the fight, neither Fred nor Cynthia nor her 18-year-old son -- who Bianca claims hit her with a pipe -- have cooperated with police. Fred didn't tell police about his security camera, which recorded part of the scene in the street that night.
When West Palm Beach Police Sgt. Louis Penque did a follow-up investigation, the Stubbs wouldn't give a taped statement without their lawyer. Police have never interviewed Cynthia's teenage son. Fred says he doesn't trust the police. He has heard the street talk that Trump is trading sex to cops for special treatment even though he can't be specific on what that special treatment might be. "Originally, I would be the last person to say that," he says, "but at this point, I don't know what to think."
All this agony over 4 inches of a retaining wall. Fred says this fight with Trump has cost him $20,000 -- the surveillance camera, a fence, lawyer fees.
He can't understand people who think this entire ordeal is insane. "That makes me a little angry," he says. "It sort of makes you frustrated when you've done the right thing and they think both sides are wrong."
Three days after the brawl, a circuit judge did pick a side: She granted Trump a one-year restraining order against Fred and Cynthia Stubbs and Ulmer.
How does this all end?
For Claudia Deprez, who sells houses in Northwood, Trump's battle with the neighbors hurts more than her pocketbook. "I hate that the race card has been played," she says. "This has the potential, if an outsider, a Rev. Al Sharpton or a Jesse Jackson comes in and stirs things up, someone's going to get killed."
West Palm Beach police are frustrated, too.
Says Capt. Allan Ortman: "We have exhausted an immense amount of manpower, including a community officer, patrol officers, bicycle officers, a myriad of code enforcement officers, detectives, three sergeants, a lieutenant and myself." They already have their hands full with serious crime in the neighborhood. From July 4 through 31 in Northwood Hills, there were five cars stolen, one rape, one kidnapping, five simple assaults and three car break-ins, according to police. Ortman says there is a bigger police presence today in Northwood Hills than any other neighborhood in West Palm Beach. "Sure, today," says Debra Neger. "There were two people shot and killed in the past two years within a block of my house. I called police six times on one and warned them about the drugs. They did nothing."
Mayor Daves met Trump and Turner, and he knows they were activists in a run-down neighborhood that was splendid when he was a kid. "I liked them," he says. "I saw them as two neighborhood leaders." But after the Oct. 10 brawl, Bianca and Kim saw the mayor as part of the problem. "We had all been friends, but they were disappointed with me because (state attorney) Barry Krischer wouldn't prosecute. They blamed me." "The police can only do so much," Daves adds. "I think there's a limit to what police can do when neighbors don't get along."
And what can Bianca do?
"All my liquid cash is in this house. This is my dream, my castle, my life is in it. But I'm a prisoner in my own house. I'd leave tomorrow if I could sell it."
The photos are up at my site - http://www.biancatrump.com/bthm1.html