To Padge Victoria Windslowe, the so-called “Michelangelo of buttocks injections,” her underground beauty business was more about goodwill than greenbacks.
Sure, she made decent money sticking silicone into women’s rear-ends, but to hear her tell it, she also truly enjoyed helping them make an enhancement they wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford.
“I did it to feel like I was giving back,” Windslowe said Thursday right before her Philadelphia murder trial got underway.
And, she boasted, she was good at what she did.
“God’s blessed my hands with everything I touch,” said Windslowe, who’s also known as the ‘Black Madam.’
Prosecutors, though, see things a bit differently.
In his opening argument, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega called Windslowe’s illegal injections “evil” and so reckless that she should be convicted of third-degree murder.
The women who sought out Windslowe, he said, had no idea they’d be injected with “industrial grade silicone” typically used for machinery.
“It’s poison,” said Vega.
Windslowe is facing significant jail time if she’s convicted on charges that one woman died and another came close to dying after being voluntarily injected.
In 2011, British hip-hop dancer Claudia Aderotimi flew from London to Philadelphia to allegedly have her butt injected by Windslowe.
Almost immediately afterwards, the 20 year old complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing. She was dead the next day.
The following year, Shurkia King, a 23-year-old exotic dancer, landed in the hospital after attending a so-called “pumping party” in East Germantown.
She survived, but the silicone that migrated to her lungs still puts her life at risk.
“There is a ticking time bomb in her body,” said Vega. “They can’t say when she’s going to relapse, when she’s going to die.”
While unfortunate and tragic, defense attorney David Rudenstein said during his opening that those incidents were not representative of Windslowe’s work, which she believed to be safe.
In fact, he added, his client had injected herself over the years.
“Do you think she would have done it to herself if she thought she was killing herself?” he asked the jury.
Rudenstein also rejected the notion that Windslowe’s clients were duped.
“Our common sense would tell us that we don’t go to a hotel room to meet with a doctor or licensed practitioner,” he said.
The procedure is certainly a bit crude.
Stephanie Matos, the Commonwealth’s first witness Thursday, said Windslowe injected her at an airport hotel in 2008 after she drove down from New York with her sister, her sister’s friend and a woman she met online.
All four, she said, were laid face down on a massage table and injected first with a “numbing” agent. The silicone shots — three or four in each cheek — followed.
“Then she put Krazy Glue where she stuck us with cotton balls,” said Matos of the roughly $1,000 injections.
After about an hour, she headed home.
Matos hasn’t had any serious medical complications since, though she said there’s some soreness sometimes if she sits too long.
She said she feels a bit foolish, if not a bit worried about the injections, especially after her sister’s friend spent a month in the hospital after being injected.
“I didn’t know you could die from it. If I knew that I wouldn’t have done it,” she said.
In addition to third-degree murder, Windslowe is charged with aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter and unauthorized practice of medicine.
If convicted, she could face between 44 and 88 years behind bars.
The trial could take up to two weeks. Windslowe is near hell-bent on testifying when the defense makes its case.
“More than anything in the world, I want to get up there and I want to talk,” said Windslowe. “The most important thing is to put Claudia’s mother at peace by speaking.”