The Porn Star Next Door

Wendy Iwanow says she just wanted to help revitalize her new home. So why did her neighbors run her out of town?

Near the end of a barely paved road in Fort Pierce, at the end of an unpaved driveway, a country-style house described by its owner as "Smurf blue" rests on an overgrown lot. High crabgrass and weeds in the front yard have overtaken a wrought-iron furniture set with rust peeking through its white paint. Planters are scattered about, each with the beginnings of something beautiful sprouting. It looks as if orchids are being trained on a lattice rail.

Wendy Iwanow's previous home is much more impressive than this one. Located in West Palm Beach's Northwood Hills neighborhood, the 80-year-old mansion is straight off the pages of Architectural Digest. An imposing iron fence there guards a perfectly landscaped yard; a koi pond burbles under a mango tree. The orange stucco exterior glints regally in the South Florida sun. It's a showplace in which Iwanow says she invested more than $100,000 and countless hours repairing.

Her new place may not be as fancy, but with a yawning front porch, swaying swing, and scattered bric-a-brac, it's much more inviting. Still, a suit of armor stands guard by the front door of the Fort Pierce home, and two huge Dobermans bark a ferocious warning from inside until Iwanow tells them to shush. The outside of the house does not reflect the owner's style, a fact she's quick to share. But inside, in the entryway, Iwanow's personality begins to show. There, hanging in matching frames, are two black-matted antique prints. One is an aging sketch from a medical book that details the parts of a human penis; the other is a poster warning devils and witches to get out of town. "I had to have those when I saw them," Iwanow says smiling.

Colby Katz
Iwanow hopes to spend more time working in the garden (above) after leaving a career in porn behind (inset pictures)
Iwanow hopes to spend more time working in the garden (above) after leaving a career in porn behind (inset pictures)

Six months ago, this country retreat with its wood-crate shelves and shabby-chic décor became Iwanow's refuge from the drama that occurred two hours south in Northwood Hills. She hoped to leave behind the warring neighbors, the police visits, and the prying newspaper reporters. For the most part, her strategy worked. "It took me a very, very long time to sell that house," Iwanow says. "It had stigma. With all the calls to the police, the crime statistics were out of control. I had to drop the price tremendously." By "stigma," Iwanow is referring to the two-year dispute she had with her neighbors, the worst dispute West Palm Beach's police force has ever had to referee. It began with normal quarreling over trees and property lines, but after 141 calls to the police; damage to Iwanow's car and to her and her neighbors' homes; numerous racial and personal slurs; a few black eyes, a broken nose, and a concussion; and three restraining orders, it ended last year when Iwanow finally moved.

The stress of the past two years hasn't taken a visible toll on Iwanow. Now 30 years old, she looks more like 24; her pale white skin is creaseless and contrasts dramatically with her long jet-black hair and blunt-cut bangs to give her a vintage cheesecake look, like the famous pinup Betty Page. Moving to Fort Pierce has allowed her to reinvent herself, and she hopes to carve out a new identity here. She doesn't look like her alter-ego, Bianca Trump, star of more than 200 adult films, anymore. Now, after a long apprenticeship and training period, she works as a tattoo artist. She recently remodeled the bathroom in her new home, and she spends her free time playing with her dogs. Though Iwanow is not ashamed of her past, she is ready to move on and has set a deadline of May 15, 2003, to exit the sex industry entirely. Until that day, she's negotiating with Penthouse magazine to do one last photo shoot, and she still works as an escort. Her rates range from $400 for an hour to $5,000 for a day, depending on how far she has to travel. And the number of images inked on her body steadily grows, a natural effect of her new tattooing career. The most menacing and noticeable of these is centered over her breastbone, where in brilliant colors and classic tattoo script it reads: "Never Forgive, Never Forget." This might well be her motto.

Iwanow's story isn't simply the salacious tale of a porn star's steamy exploits. It's a sad story of urban blight. A conflicting story of gentrification. A convoluted but mesmerizing account of race and class warfare and differing ideas on what qualities make a neighborhood great. It just so happens that behind the neighborhood clean-up efforts and many of the complaint calls to code enforcers was a sexy porn star living in a big mansion on a hill, a mansion in which every room was wired with a web camera so that Trump's fans could watch a different drama unfolding inside the house. But from the rooms inside, viewers couldn't see the real action outside. There, on any given day, neighbors waited for Trump to leave the house so they could hurl insults at her. They argued over property lines, trees, and walls. They vandalized her car and held prayer services asking Jesus to save her soul. Finally, they just tried to beat the hell out of her.

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