EAST HARLEM, Manhattan — She’s best known as the Manhattan Madam, who helped to bring down a governor, and later ran for governor herself. She also ran for city comptroller, and served for a time behind bars for prostitution and another time for drug sales.
All of those developments put Kristin Davis in the headlines in the past, but she’s been back in the news lately because of her testimony in the Robert Mueller probe into election meddling by Russia.
On Friday, though, she made her own news by starting a new business — a legal one — that begins a new phase in her life.
“Being the Manhattan Madam is both a blessing and a curse,” Davis, 43, told PIX11 News from the Bombshell Beauty Lab, a boutique nail and beauty salon she opened at noon.
She was referring to a sign she’d had made, reading “Manhattan Madam,” and which her staff installed in the minutes before her shop opened. It’s the nickname she’d acquired when news surfaced that she’d provided high-end escorts to A-list clients, including, evidently, then-governor Eliot Spitzer. The revelation helped to lead to Spitzer’s resignation a decade ago.
Since then, Davis has served four months in jail for prostitution, followed by a run for governor herself. She lost, but later ran for city comptroller. That campaign came to an abrupt halt when Davis was arrested and convicted of illegal prescription drug purchasing for the purpose of dealing. She ended up serving a prison term of nearly two years for the crime.
Now, though, her latest major appearance in the headlines involves her being subpoenaed to testify in the Robert Mueller probe.
“I think it’s a form of government bullying,” she said. She testified two weeks ago in front of prosecutors on the special counsel’s team, and before a grand jury.
For her efforts, she said, “I’m out $1400 for expenses that were supposed to be paid by the government.”
Davis said that she’s still waiting to be reimbursed for some travel and hotel expenses.
The specific reason she was called to testify was about one particular target of the special counsel’s probe. “I had to testify because of my friendship with Roger Stone,” she said.
Stone was an advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and has been suspected of having contact with Russian intelligence operatives who were trying to influence the election.
To Davis’s knowledge, however, “There was no collusion or any knowledge beforehand,” she told PIX11 News.
Despite that, she said, prosecutors “can go ahead and indict him without giving him a chance to defend himself.”
When asked if she thought that would actually happen, she replied, “I do.”
A comment like that, from a person who has been indicted herself in the past, is news.
Further news on Friday came in the form of the newest development in the life of the longstanding businesswoman.
Amid champagne being uncorked, and toasts to success, Bombshell Beauty Lab opened. Its location, on 111th Street between Second and Third Avenues, is somewhat unorthodox for a high-end salon.
However, Davis lives nearby, in the duplex townhome she shares with Stone and his wife. Davis said that she wants to make East Harlem more than just where she lives and works.
“I am considering a run for public office,” she told PIX11 News, adding that she wants to represent the neighborhood where she lives. “Maybe a senate office. I think that people have to use their notoriety to push for something good, and I don’t think we’ve had enough of that.”
For now, getting the nail and beauty salon up and running is her main challenge. If it does well, she said, she hopes to expand it in a way that helps others.
“I would like to have a few locations,” she said, and “to offer employment for women coming out of prison. Men, too.”
In a perfect world, she said, she wants to use Bombshell Beauty Lab to impart something that, while she was behind bars, she’d realized was key for people at risk in the national economy.
“Helping people rehabilitate with a skill they can use wherever they go.”