Alexis Wright appears with her attorney, Sarah Churchill, Friday, March 29, 2013 in Cumberland County Court, in Portland, Maine. Wright, a dance instructor accused of using her Zumba fitness studio as a front for prostitution pleaded guilty Friday to 20 c
KENNEBUNK, Maine (AP) — Zumba instructor and single mom moonlights as hooker.
From the start, the case against Alexis Wright read like the TV Guide synopsis for one of those steamy Lifetime made-for-television movies.
There was Wright, the raven-haired fitness instructor who taught Zumba to soccer moms in a picturesque New England town while leading a double life as a prostitute with a customer list that was said to include prominent people, all of whom were secretly videotaped in the act.
There was also the business partner who watched via Skype from 100 miles away. The pizza delivery guy who got an eyeful when Wright dropped her towel. And the tenants in Wright’s building who got suspicious about all the moaning and groaning.
Whether her tale makes it to the small screen remains to be seen. Wright’s lawyer isn’t saying what her client intends to do. But there is nothing specifically in state law — and nothing in the plea bargain she reached with prosecutors — that prevents her from selling her story, whether in the form of an interview, a book or a script.
And there is little doubt it has a certain appeal.
“Small-town prostitution ring? There’s something about that that smells of a made-for-TV movie,” said Peter S. Fischer, one of the creators of the TV show “Murder, She Wrote,” which starred Angela Lansbury as a mystery writer and sleuth in fictional Cabot Cove, Maine. “It’s a highly melodramatic subject, and the juxtaposition of putting it in a small town, whether it’s Illinois or Indiana or Wyoming, that’s interesting.”
Wright, 30, pleaded guilty to prostitution and other crimes Friday under an agreement that calls for 10 months in jail. She also must pay more than $57,000 in restitution and fines. Sentencing is set for May 31.
In Kennebunk, a seaside village of sea captains’ mansions, beaches and 10,000 people, many are fed up with all the publicity from the scandal and relieved that the case is finally drawing to a close so that they can focus on more important matters, like the May Day Festival.
“That’s one book or movie that I won’t see!” said Linda Johnson, who has lived in Kennebunk for 38 years.
But Joyce Bagshaw, who knew Wright and now runs the Zumba studio, said plenty of people around town still want to know what really went on.
“I hope she gets the opportunity to tell her story because I’m curious. I think everyone is,” she said. “There’s still a truth that Alexis hasn’t been able to tell.”
During the evenings, Wright led dance classes at her studio. By day, with the curtains closed, she worked as a prostitute in the studio, her apartment and a rented office. She recorded the sex acts while her business partner watched from afar. She was a single mom at the time, but later married her boyfriend.
Their indictments last fall scandalized the town and touched off a guessing game as to which neighbors or co-workers might be among the 140-plus names in Wright’s ledger. The 66 people charged so far with engaging Wright’s services include a former mayor, a high school hockey coach, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter.
“The truth is the story could be a big zero or a big sensation. That would depend more on the details that emerge and whether she chooses to hire professionals to guide her,” said Michael Levine, a Hollywood media expert and author.
Prosecutors made no effort to prevent Wright from profiting from her story after concluding that would violate her First Amendment rights, said Justina McGettigan, deputy district attorney in York County. But they could still try to collect some of the proceeds to cover her fines and restitution.
Wright’s defense attorney, Sarah Churchill, said: “I don’t know when and to whom Alexis will choose to tell her story, but I think that it is a decision that should be fairly left to her in its entirety.”