The Music Credit:
Sebastien Tellier
Astralwerks Records

But the breaking point, the thing that really caused Sylk's demise at Baum Multimedia, was that he was
sleeping with too many of the girls. And the ones he wasn't sleeping with he was scaring away. "I busted
him the first time for having sex with one of the girls," says Jennifer proudly. "I walked in his room and saw
a girl in the bed beating him with a belt. Bruce and Fred raided his bedroom and found all these sex toys
a leather whip, handcuffs, bondage stuff and all sorts of drugs." According to Jennifer ... Sylk's kink is
masochism: "One girl that came in for an interview got so mad at him that she hit him in the face and he
asked her to do it again. She did it five or six times before she walked out of the interview. He liked it."
By this time Ed Feldman decided it was time to sample the wares at Baum Multimedia. He called in a new
Viagra prescription and instructed Sylk to begin sending girls to his Park Avenue apartment, ostensibly to
do secretarial work (20 years later, it was still $10 an hour). "Ed totally used Jason to get women," confirms
Lee Kalt. Sylk "was constantly talking about sending women over to Ed's apartment. He'd ask if I had girls
to send over. I was like, 'Are you fucking kidding me dude ?'" "Ed was going to finance my model agency
and in exchange, he made me bird dog for him," explains Sylk. "I must have brought about a hundred young
models to his house over six months. He slept with about half of them, promising he'd put them in a L'Oreal
commercial or this or that. He gets laid more than anyone I've ever met in my life."
But things were slowly changing at Sylk's on-line candy shop. The Mafia was knocking on the door
of Baum Multimedia and Jason Itzler was about to let them in. Evidently his brush with Mike Plaza hadn't
soured him on La Cosa Nostra entirely. He met a connected guy from Florida named Mitch at the VIP
strip club and offered him a piece of Baum Multimedia for $65,000. Within several days Sylk was holding
a paper bag full of cash. Finally flush, he immediately began throwing it around town, buying bottles of
Champagne at Raouls and bottles of liquor at Veruka, tipping the waitress $60 every time she came to
the table. When Freddy and Bruce found out about their new business partner panic set in. They had just
gotten rid of Plaza and they didn't want another strong-arm guy on the scene to cause problems. They
ordered Sylk to immediately return the money to Mitch. Having already spent $10,000 of the money he
said this was impossible. Bruce bailed him out, sending a check to Mitch for the full $65,000 amount. But
Mitch wasn't about to go away. He began paying visits to Baum Multimedia to observe the operation,
hoping to set up a similar internet business in Florida. Mitch's arrival would be followed in May 2001 by the
arrival of another mobster named Charlie, who Sylk dismisses as a "300-pound rack of muscle." Charlie
and his girlfriend, Brenda Fitiles, would slowly begin to assume the day-to-day managerial chores at Baum
Multimedia, squeezing out Sylk and Lee Kalt in the process. Charlie, an imposing figure even without
flexing his pectorals, kept the girls in line. And Brenda performed secretarial duties, including initializing the
counterfeit pay stubs every week. "Soon as I saw wise guys at Baum I told Fred and Bruce that it was a
mistake" says Lee. "I told them if they made money the mob would steal it from them. They said 'Oh no.'"
The first thing Charlie and Mitch noticed about Baum Multimedia was that it was run like a Chinatown
sweat shop. There were no lunch or coffee breaks and the staff was overworked to the point of exhaustion.
For instance, to increase production, girls were forced to operate two keyboards at once. Six-day schedules
became mandatory; many worked seven days. And safety was nonexistent: no computer firewall, no
security guards, the sheets weren't even changed between shifts. And like all sweatshops -- the pay was
atrocious. So low, in fact, that the figures sounded positively third world. A handful of "top hostesses"
pulled down approximately $200 a week. But the average weekly salary doled out by Baum Multimedia
was in the $100 to $120 range. The rest of the checks were so paltry it was laughable. It wasn't unusual
for girls to receive double-digit checks, say $38 or $19. One office manager said the hardest thing she ever
had to do was to hand a $6.50 paycheck to one of her employees.
written by Rene Chun


Sweat Shop"

No part of this Works, may be published or
reproduced in anyway without expressed
permission: in writing from the copyright
holders. c. 2002 All rights reserved.
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