More Like GirlsLashingOut.com
By Richard Leiby
Wednesday, May 26, 2004; Page C03
They've won default judgments in court, tried to garnish a bank account and asked the authorities to investigate, all to no avail. So ex-staffers who say they were fleeced out of their pay by Farrah Ashline -- founder of a once-popular Washington social Web site called GirlsGoingOut.com -- are getting revenge by trying to humiliate her in the public square of the Internet.
In March, we reported on bad debts piled up by Ashline, 29, who then lived in Fairfax -- prompting scores of Web designers, writers, artists and other former employees to come forward with complaints. They've set up www.farrahashline.com, described as "an unofficial resource site," which connects readers to diatribes against Ashline (sample from former assistant Candy Bogatz: "I hate you so much, Farrah. You are a rotten horrible person and it makes me sick that you are free to roam the streets, continuing to use and abuse others.")
At www.womagazine.com, a site once run by Ashline, one of her former editors, April Fried-Vandecamp, has posted racy pictures and this come-on: "Tantric Massages . . . LIES LIES LIES!!" Ashline's Internet foes say they've even unearthed a link to an exotic massage business she supposedly ran a few years ago.
GirlsGoingOut hosted events where women in their twenties bonded over yoga, martinis and manicures. "I wanted to provide women with a safe, positive environment where they could come together and meet other women, break the barrier and make female friendships," Ashline said in a Washington Post article in December 2002. "Of course, we are also all about going out and having a good time." Membership cost $50 to $60; she claimed to have 4,000 members.
Ashline told us in March that she didn't owe ex-employees anything and intended to relaunch her site in nine cities. But GirlsGoingOut.com has had no content for several weeks. She did not return several e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.
Bogatz, a 22-year-old Washingtonian, recently won a $2,400 judgment for back pay in a Fairfax County court but has been unable to locate Ashline to collect. "It's absolutely heartbreaking," she told us. "I didn't want to just roll over and take this, but I have to keep forking over more and more money to try to collect."
Rachel Ludwig, 29, a part-time student in Alexandria who has judgments against Ashline for $1,050, said, "Our only means of protecting other people is on the Internet -- the place where she was spawned." Ludwig asked Fairfax County police to investigate Ashline. Joe Reina, an investigator with the financial crimes unit, told us last week, "I'm really not allowed to discuss the case with you."
Getting 'Washingtonienne' Between the Covers
• It had to happen: A respectable New York literary agency is interested in seeing a book proposal from Jessica "Washingtonienne" Cutler, the 24-year-old Senate aide fired last week for writing "offensive material" at work -- i.e., her explicit diary of sexual encounters with six men -- and posting it on the Internet. After the story hit the New York Post yesterday (headlined "Pols in Sex Web: D.C. gal dishes the dirt"), we got a call from Pilar Queen, an agent at Carlisle & Co., who was seeking Cutler's phone number.
"I think that the people who have these blogs and post these Web sites are fascinating," Queen told us. "We're thinking about [a book focused on] sex on the Hill in terms of 'The Devil Wears Prada': her experiences of working as an intern, nonfiction or fiction. Clearly she has something that she wants to get out there." Carlisle represents authors of the best-selling "The Nanny Diaries" and "Eats, Shoots and Leaves."
"Oh, that's terrific," Cutler told us. She said she'll put together "a five-page sample of what the book would be like."
While walking and talking to us on her cell phone in Georgetown, Cutler spotted a piece of currency on the ground. "I just found a hundred-dollar bill!" she exclaimed. "It's my lucky day!" We'll say.
And this just in: At press time, Playboy called us for her number.
• The Vermont jam band Phish -- Gen X's answer to the Grateful Dead -- left fans in shock yesterday, announcing plans to call it quits after a summer tour. "We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act," guitarist Trey Anastasio said on the band's Web site. The final tour starts June 17 and winds up with massive concerts in Vermont on Aug. 14-15.
• The saga continues: Courtney Love pleaded guilty yesterday in Los Angeles to a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance and agreed to enter a months-long, outpatient drug rehabilitation program. She still faces felony possession charges.
Annals of Puffery
An occasional verbatim press release
"Taking the 'always on' Internet revolution to the extreme, consumers happily admit to surfing the Net via Wi-Fi in their underwear, according to a recent survey by IOGEAR Inc., a leading Wi-Fi connectivity and peripheral manufacturer. In an online poll of 478 consumers in April, 64 percent of the respondents admitted to connecting to the Internet when just wearing their undergarments, showing the growing popularity of the wireless lifestyle."
There is no escape from the lowly but ubiquitous cicada. One buzzed the most powerful man in world yesterday as he climbed the steps to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. There were no casualties, as far as we know.
(Larry Downing - Reuters)
With Anne Schroeder
© 2004 The Washington Post Company