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DR. RUTH ASKS: When former Self magazine editor in chief Alexandra Penney lost her life savings to Bernie Madoff, she didn’t waste time bemoaning the financial loss or joining a Madoff support group. That’s too Old School. Instead, she began blogging about the experience for The Daily Beast and writing a book, called “The Bag Lady Papers.” “It wasn’t cathartic at all,” Penney said on Wednesday evening during a conversation with Departures editor in chief Richard David Story. “I needed the advance.”
It was Penney’s psychiatrist who suggested she invest with Madoff, but she bears no ill will toward the doctor. “I love him,” she said. “He didn’t mean me any harm.” Penney never met Madoff, but has come in contact with his former longtime secretary, Eleanor Squillari, who is now a manicurist. “I truly believe she didn’t know anything,” Penney noted.
Curiously, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was in the audience, and she peppered Penney with questions about why she kept her money with Madoff and if she asked for references for the financier. No one was quite sure how Dr. Ruth found out about the event — perhaps she’d heard about Penney’s previous book, “How to Make Love to a Man.” Or maybe, as one attendee noted, it had something to do with Penney’s hobby of photographing plastic blow-up sex dolls.