NEW YORK — “I don’t think I did anything wrong,” insists 27-year-old Jessica Cutler, a year after she shocked straitlaced Washington by blogging about her sexual exploits under the online moniker “The Washingtonienne.” While working as a lowly mail clerk in Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine’s office, Cutler recorded her misadventures with six men, including a married Bush appointee. Her cover was blown when someone sent her online diary to Wonkette.com, the D.C. gossip blog. Cutler was instantly fired and instantly famous.
Exactly a year later to the day, the unrepentant author sits at Da Silvano and casually sips white wine. What may have eased any guilt was her rumored $450,000 advance for a novel, also called “The Washingtonienne,” out June 1 from Hyperion. And although the formalities have yet to be ironed out, HBO has shown an interest in buying the rights to the book, with Sarah Jessica Parker signing on to produce.
Most of the novel is close to the truth. Jacqueline Turner, the protagonist’s name, is the fake moniker that Cutler used to give out in bars. Cutler — and Turner — picked up guys at the same D.C. spots, the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotel bars, and bought the same fashions: Diane von Furstenberg and Kate Spade. The sequence of events is almost the same, with Washington exploding after the discovery of her blog and Cutler/Turner returning to New York to write a book. “There’s that saying,” she points out. “If you are too dumb for New York and too ugly for L.A., you go to D.C. to become a star.” It worked.
“When I first sat down to write the book, I just wrote what happened to me,” says Cutler. But her editor explained that a novel needs structure. “She asked me what I read, and I told her I liked Bret Easton Ellis. But she said I had to read ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ I didn’t get it at first.”
What she also doesn’t get is all the fuss. “If you happen to receive money from your lover, that’s common in this day and age,” she argues. It was something she says happened during her first stint in New York, after attending college back home in Syracuse. Cutler bounced from job to job, but rent was taken care of. “You can find a guy who will take care of you. It’s pretty easy. One guy owned a building on the Upper East Side, and I didn’t have to pay rent. But then I realized that there were a lot of young girls in the building,” she says, laughing.
This story first appeared in the May 26, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s kind of a scam. I never asked for any money … But [conversely] I would never break up with someone if they didn’t give me money,” Cutler points out. As in her book, two of her lovers paid her rent in Washington.
Now she lives in a studio in the East Village that she pays for herself, and is trying to start a new life. But at least one of her former “boyfriends” seems determined to get some revenge. Robert Steinbuch, an attorney who also worked in DeWine’s office and was identified on the blog by his initials, is suing her in U.S. District Court for “invasion of privacy.”
Not all the men from the blog hate her, though. Cutler still speaks to two of them, but won’t reveal which ones. Do they still have sexual relationships? “We still do it,” she laughs.
Now when she meets men out, at places such as Lotus, Duvet or Happy Endings, she tells them to Google her before calling. Surprisingly, her notoriety is more a turn-on than a turn-off. “They are always more interested than they were before,” she claims.
But Cutler insists she’s never been in it for the attention. “I don’t like the fame. I like the money.”