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Wally Clark swears it was a million-dollar idea. The bespectacled man with big ears, a bald head, and a trim figure scrolls through the 10,000 pornographic snapshots he took of his wife cavorting with his best friend. Sure, Clark had nudged the two of them together — but it was only supposed to be so they could all get rich peddling erotic images. His wife and his buddy weren't supposed to run off together.
On a recent Thursday, inside a one-bedroom bachelor pad cluttered with papers, the six-foot-two Hialeah High graduate is revisiting what he calls the happiest five years of his life. A photography studio occupies a back room, and a flame-painted PT Cruiser sits in the driveway. "My wife was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen," he says with a wistful glint in his paralyzed left eye, "until she became a professional liar."
The 73-year-old purports to be in the business of truth. Flip through a copy of the River Cities Gazette, Miami Springs' free community paper for the past 33 years, and you'll see stories about a local farmers' market, a spectacular car wreck, and a boutique sale. They're all written by Clark, a 25-year veteran of the paper, who produces a good half of its content. But unless Clark can dig his way out of Miami-Dade's most bizarre sex scandal involving a journalist, his job is doomed. Two restraining orders prevent him from covering the majority of his town. Clark usually reports on burglaries and stickups, but he can't visit the police station lobby anymore. The newspaper office is also off-limits.
Technically, Clark doesn't need to go to the police station that often. Miami Springs — a 2.9-square-mile triangle between Hialeah and Miami International Airport — boasts a violent crime rate that's less than half the national average. The 14,000-resident suburban city reported only four murders between 1999 and 2011. It's practically a modern-day Mayberry, and Clark is one of the most influential people to call the place home.
"Even though we're online and connected to the Herald, everybody loves to get their newspaper every Wednesday," says Bill Daley, the Gazette's editor. "It's unique in the age of social media because people here still like to read their local paper and see what's going on."
Clark met his now ex-wife while teaching a Harley-Davidson riding class in late 2006, when he was 66. Dana Estabrook, a 20-year-old former bodybuilder and personal trainer, was the youngest student in his 12-person class. "I thought I didn't have a chance," Clark admits. After a couple of lessons, though, the older man invited his pupil over to take sexy photographs on his motorcycle. She accepted, and the two slept together during their second shoot, he says. Estabrook moved into Clark's Wren Avenue home the following March, and they married two years later in a Savannah, Georgia gazebo.
Clark was so smitten that he tattooed Estabrook's name on his right forearm, and the woman told her husband daily that the two would "be together forever," he says.
But the couple hustled to survive. Divorce records show Clark pulled in only $432 every two weeks from the paper for his articles, photos, and a weekly humor column called "Out of Sync." His monthly $1,032 social security check paid the rent. Estabrook expressed interest in a job stripping, so Clark installed a pole in his photo studio and paid for dancing lessons in Coral Springs. Her debut at the Booby Trap in Doral brought in only $67, he recalls. She never went back and instead began pursuing a graphic design career.
"I couldn't afford the nice things," Clark remembers. "We struggled for years, but she always said, 'I want to buy a house and take care of you.' " During the five-year marriage (Clark's third), the small-town reporter struggled with melanoma, prostate cancer, and heart disease, court records show. With his measly income and mounting medical bills, home ownership would have been a pipe dream.
That's why they concocted the photo project. One image on Clark's desktop computer shows the brunet Estabrook wearing ruby-red lipstick and lying in a bed of flowers. The next shows her on her back naked with an older man hovering over her. The pair's physiques are overlaid with pop art-style illustrations. Court records show that in March 2010, Clark emailed his buddy, chiropractor Art Jansik, to recruit him for modeling: "Very confidential. Need dude to pose with hot babe for erotica pics. No face. You interested?" The goal was to photograph hard-core pornography, Photoshop it, and sell it.
"I like to call it erotic art," Clark explains. "People won't put up a dirty picture in their home, but if you put it on a canvas, they might put it up as a conversation piece."
All went well for a year and a half, until the two models fell in love. As a chiropractor, Jansik made a salary that Clark could never compete with. The wealthy interloper charmed Estabrook, who grew up in Jupiter, by taking her on expensive three-way dates with Clark, including lobster trapping, and by purchasing expensive gifts, according to Clark.
One day in September 2011 after a long weekend in the Keys, Estabrook confessed her feelings for Jansik. Clark was shattered. The two soon separated, court records confirm.