Ghislaine Maxwell once gave me lesson in oral sex at a posh cocktail party – her warped dad taught her to despise women

I FIRST met Ghislaine Maxwell in a fancy Italian restaurant in London in the 1980s when I was 16.

She was seven years older than me and, typically, was sitting at the best table, her contralto voice holding court to a group of ten or 12, most of them men.

I was in an alcove in the social Outer Hebrides when one of the men at her table beckoned me over.

We were introduced. “Oh, I’ve heard of you,” she said. I was both flattered and intimidated.

Her smile was charming but her gaze disconcertingly direct as it flicked up and down my body.

I was trying to formulate a reply when she laughed, turned to the man on her left and began licking his ear.

This strange public exhibitionism  gave me an opportunity to assess Ms Maxwell.

She was tall and thin, with the sort of androgynous allure that crosses all frontiers.

There was something very sexual about her; and an almost Geisha-like desire to please her male companions.

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Much about her masked something darker and predatory, as I was to discover almost a decade later when I met her again  at a cocktail party in New York.

She had changed. Her raven hair was cut in a boyish crop and her teeth whitened. She seemed harder.

She had lost her charm and appeared to be playing a role. I’d heard she was going out with a crude but rich financier.  

After the moment of mutual recognition, she laughed a little too loudly.

I asked her how she was, but she didn’t answer.

What she did do was encircle my wrist and run her fingers over it in peculiar crablike movements.

“What are you doing?” I asked her nervously. “Showing you how to give oral sex.”

“Why?” I asked stupidly. She raised her eagle-winged eyebrows in astonishment.

“Don’t you want to please men?” she responded, as if this was a professional career. I pulled away, but some of younger girls came forward to take advantage of Ghislaine’s masterclass.

It was an odd thing to be doing at a smart drinks party, especially as our hosts were in their 70s and well-known philanthropists. But Ghislaine never brooked restraints on her behaviour.

I ran into her quite often before that time. She spoke frequently of her father, and very reverentially, as though he combined the qualities of Socrates, El Cid, Cary Grant and all Twelve Apostles.

Death of her dad changed her

This was at a time when his star was starting to wane. I wondered then whether her almost pathological desire to please men stemmed from her hero-worship of him.

I think it was her father’s death that changed her and perhaps sent her on her headlong rush towards a man like Jeffrey Epstein.

By then, everyone knew her father had stolen hundreds of millions from the Mirror Group pension fund.

Most of us assumed his death was an accident or suicide. A friend who knew Ghislaine told me “She’s mad with grief. She thinks it was murder.”

I don’t believe Ghislaine could accept that the person she worshipped was a common thief.

After his demise, people told me about how badly he had treated all his children including Ghislaine.

Apparently he had a monstrous temper and abused her verbally and physically. He also taught her to despise members of her own sex.

After his death, I’d heard Ghislaine moved to New York and was cutting quite a swathe.

Ghislaine’s close friends had stuck by her and she had been introduced to an impressive array of Americans including the Clintons and Donald Trump.

Then she’d become enamoured of Epstein, who, it was said, reminded her of Maxwell. People said he “made her feel safe”. He also funded her lavish lifestyle.

I heard, too, that she hadn’t lost her Geisha-like compulsion to flatter men.

Epstein had, even in those days, an unpleasant reputation. I met him just once in the bar of a New York hotel, where he was meeting an acquaintance of mine.

I said hello and moved away, not wishing to interrupt. He looked annoyed; it was said he had a basic contempt for women.

One must remember the era in which we all lived. The late 80s and early 1990s were characterised by excess, enormous, teaming parties and a latent sexism.

“No one likes to look at old trouts like me,” one London hostess told me after I counted at least 12 teenage girls at her dinner dance.

“It’s very important to have young girls as eye candy.”

Given Ghislaine’s upbringing and the values with which she was inculcated, her victims would have seemed to her less than human.

There were occasions when her overweening arrogance led her to attempt to pimp friends and acquaintances.

A married friend of mine was astonished to get a call from her asking her to visit the hotel suite of a prominent political figure.

Another was invited to a sex party complete with complimentary vibrators, which formed part of goody bags.

“Ghislaine could be very tin-eared, to put it kindly”, the horrified invitee told me.

“She never thought she was doing anything inappropriate or wrong. She’s the only person I’ve known who never apologises.”

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