“I am a publicist, in the perception business, and I have been a victim of perception,” Peggy Siegal, told Vanity Fair in its more than 6,500-word article in the April Hollywood issue.
The story deals with her effort to keep Peggy Siegal Company afloat in the aftermath of a New York Times blockbuster last July that credited the then-celebrity PR powerhouse and NYC’s “most prominent professional hostess” with helping to rehab the image of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
After the Times journalist Jodi Kantor contacted Siegal about the disgraced Epstein’s social life, she contacted a lawyer who referred her to Matt McKenna, a crisis PR specialist who worked for Bill Clinton.
McKenna told Maureen O’Connor, who wrote the VF piece, that since there was going to be reporting about Siegal he wanted “the first foundational story to be in a paper of record.”
The Times article ran on the front page on July 14 and then made its way to the Hollywood press.
After reading a story in the Hollywood Reporter, Siegal told VF that she couldn’t believe what was happening to her.
“This is what it’d be like to go to your own funeral. Or to be a casualty of war. I mean, if I had been in Nazi Germany, it could not have been worse,” she said, invoking ancestors who died in the Holocaust.
“I thought, Oh, my God, I’m on the train station. I’m getting on that train and I’m going to the camps. And this is exactly what came to mind. This is the kind of political, social, horrific nightmare that came to fruition…. Life has come full circle. I’ve finally been attacked for nothing more than being Jewish, or being a woman, or being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Siegel spoke to VF because getting her account out is her best shot at keeping the lights on at Peggy Siegal Company.
“Until you, or I or anybody else can get the truth out that I have been unjustly accused as a woman, then I have no business,” she told O’Connor. “I go out seven nights a week. I have an apartment on the Upper East Side. I have no family. My life is my work. It’s always been that way.”
During the past six months, Siegal has been informally consulting with power publicists Leslee Dart, Cynthia Swartz and Susie Arons.
The VF piece notes that in 2007 as an investigation into Epstein was playing out in Palm Beach, New York magazine writer Philip Weiss met with Epstein in the office of PR heavyweight Howard Rubenstein.
A spokesperson for Rubenstein’s firm told VF that the firm dropped Espstein and stopped returning his calls after he was convicted in Palm Beach.
In 2008, Epstein was convicted in Palm Beach for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl. He served 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail with work releases that allowed him to leave for 12 hours a day.
He returned to New York in 2010, where Epstein and Siegal where “social friends.”
She described that term as: “I can call then on the phone. They can call me. I can send him an invitation without being embarrassed because it’s not a cold invitation. I can greet them at the door. I can talk to them after the movie.”