Yes, Sydney Leathers is her real name. And despite the phone sex and the offers from porn producers, the Indiana woman at the center of the latest Anthony Weiner scandal says she was looking for love â€” not fame â€” when she first got involved with the disgraced New York politician.
â€śI didnâ€™t want to be known for this,â€ť the 23-year-old told us Saturday. â€śI was a huge fan and admired him a lot.â€ť
Instead of rock stars or actors, Leathers is into politicians, and she recalls first spotting Weiner on cable television. â€śHeâ€™d give these hyperbolic speeches on the House floor,â€ť she said. â€śI was so impressed by them. He was so passionate, and it made me feel we cared about the same things.â€ť When Weiner resigned in 2011, she sent him a Facebook message to express her disappointment in his behavior.
And that was that â€” until he wrote back in the summer of 2012 to apologize for letting her down. The two quickly began an â€śemotionalâ€ť affair â€” she liked his intellect, his charm, their banter and chemistry. â€śHe had me wrapped around his finger because he knew I had him on a pedestal,â€ť she said. â€śHonestly, I was flattered to get attention from him.â€ť
At first, they wrote or talked every day â€” soon with risque texts, explicit photos and phone sex. â€śIâ€™ve never met anyone with an ego like that. It was all about him.â€ť The relationship was their hot, guilty secret, though the two never met in person, but it was over by the end of last year.
Then, in April, Weiner called to get her reaction to a flattering New York Times profile of himself and his wife, Huma Abedin. Leathers said that it was fine, but the next day, Weiner e-mailed to say that his brother wanted to know whether she was upset. That scared her, because she was unaware that his brother even knew about the affair. â€śThe whole situation,â€ť she said, â€śfreaked me out.â€ť
She said that she finally decided to expose Weinerâ€™s hypocrisy as the mayoral campaign heated up. â€śI was proof he hadnâ€™t changed. I felt voters deserved the truth.â€ť She intended to release the information anonymously: No rival mayoral campaign approached her and she said she wasnâ€™t looking for money, or she â€śwould have sold the photos and the text transcripts.â€ť She insists that she never asked for or received a dime from Weiner.
But Leathersâ€™s motives and reputation have taken a serious blow with the revelation that the unemployed law researcher frequented a couple of sugar-daddy sites in the past and is now considering â€śtons of offersâ€ť to appear in a porn movie. â€śIâ€™m still figuring that out,â€ť she told us vaguely â€” despite reports that a deal might be announced as early as this week. (Update, 8 am: Oh, now, here we go)
She hasnâ€™t spoken to Weiner in months, but Leathers said that sheâ€™s still a fan of politicians such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders or Rep. Alan Grayson.
But lesson learned: She has no plans to contact any of them. â€śI definitely believe youâ€™re not supposed to meet your heroes,â€ť she said. â€śIt really rings true now.â€ť