Zumba’s popularity has finally been explained. Well, at least in the town of Kennebunk, Maine anyway. In February, Alexis Wright, 30, was charged with 106 counts of prostitution, violation of privacy, tax evasion and welfare fraud. Alexis worked with the man who was her pimp, Mark Strong, 57, to operate a brothel outside of her Zumba studio and home. The news story quickly turned into a media frenzy of absurd propositions. The story had everything the media loves in a story: sex, cover-up, lies, fitness, men and small-town America. It was the perfect storm.
On Friday, Alexis plead guilty to 20 misdemeanor counts to avoid going to trial. Wright will serve 10 months in jail and will owe some $58,000 in fees. The two business partners kept extensive records on the over 140 clients and took in $150,000 in the two years the brothel was operational.
The story quickly turned into a media zoo as police released the names and addressees of the brothels clients. With so many men of the community taking part in the prostitution ring it came as a surprise that it was able to operate for so long. The other curious part of this story is that it appeared like Wright and Strong were making little effort to hide the brothel.
The lead investigator for the case said that a simple Google of "Alexis Wright" produced a slew of pornographic videos and photographs. Several of these movies featured her performing these acts in the Zumba studio. The Google search also showed a website called “Sensual Body Works by Lydia.” The site advertised body massages in a “comforting and warm environment.” The police investigation turned up more damaging evidence including a calendar with a list of client names, dates, hotels, prices and sex acts.
The media attention shocked the small town. “Exciting” to Kennebunk, Maine was the pavement of a new road. Many residents took the coverage in stride. Some even made their own shirts that said, “I’m Not on the client list. ARE YOU?” The town was used to being largely ignored by outsiders and the attention the brothel bestowed upon it soon became unwelcome and unappreciated.
Mark Strong was charged as the pimp of Alexis Wright in the case. A married father of two, he watched the sex acts on his computer using Skype. He faced 59 misdemeanor charges relating to prostitution. He was convicted of 13 counts and sentenced to 13 days of prison. It is expected he will be released early for good behavior.
Whenever the puritanical standards of small town America are shattered you can bet the media will be there pointing its finger, telling them that they are just like the rest of America. Stories like this seem to make us all feel slightly better about ourselves. It shows us that these kinds of things can happen anywhere, even in idyllic beach towns.