PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Gothic performance artist who did illegal cosmetic surgery on the side testified at her murder trial Thursday that her body sculpting work was so popular she was dubbed “the Michelangelo of buttocks injections.”
Padge Victoria Windslowe, who performed under the name “Black Madam,” is accused of killing a 20-year-old dancer from London during a procedure at an airport hotel that involved industrial-grade silicone and Krazy Glue.
The woman’s 2011 death — and the months that Windslowe spent on the lam — led Philadelphia police to investigate the strange world of “pumping parties” and underground surgery.
“Everyone was calling me ‘the Michelangelo of buttocks injections,'” Windslowe, 45, of Philadelphia told a judge at a final pretrial motion Thursday morning, just before her trial got underway. “God’s blessed my hands with everything I touch. I make lots of money, in lots of ways.”
The judge said that jurors must ultimately decide “the degree of recklessness” Windslowe assumed when they weigh third-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges.
The trial is expected to last several weeks and include testimony about another dancer hospitalized for two weeks after the silicone moved to her lungs. Windslowe is charged with aggravated assault in those injuries.
Windslowe allegedly fled the hotel room after dancer Claudia Aderotimi started having trouble breathing during “a touch-up” to celebrate her birthday in February 2011. She died later that day.
“It’s a nutso situation,” defense lawyer David Rudenstein conceded in opening statements. “It almost blows your mind listening to it.”
However, he said his extravagantly-sculpted client would not have injected herself over the years if she didn’t consider it safe.
The buxom Windslowe wore a low-slung white T-shirt, white skirt and white knee socks to court, along with white sneakers and a large white cross. Bright berry-tinged makeup defined her chiseled lips and cheeks.
Prosecutors said she collected $1,000 to $2,000 per session and told clients she was a nurse practitioner for a plastic surgeon. Some of them now battle frequent pain, all in pursuit of more curves, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said.
“At hotels, these girls are paying $2,000 to put cc’s of silicone that they think is OK (into their body), when it’s poison,” Vega said.
The same type of silicone is used to make cars and military tanks, he said.
Aderotimi and a friend had flown in from London once before for a previous injection. The friend, Theresa Gyamfi, testified at a 2012 preliminary hearing but has refused to return for the trial, prosecutors said this week.
Windslowe rejected a plea offer of 15 to 30 years in prison in exchange for a third-degree murder plea. She faces 20 to 40 years on that charge if convicted at trial and more time for the other charges, including practicing medicine without a license. Instead, she plans to tell her side of the story to jurors.
“More than anything in the world, I want to get up there and I want to talk,” Windslowe said Thursday. “The most important thing is to put Claudia’s mother at peace by speaking.”