The Untold Truth Of Alix Earle's Stepmom Ashley Dupré

Back in the late 2000s, Ashley Dupré's name was cloaked in infamy. Then, in her early 20s, she was at the core of a major sex scandal involving one of America's most powerful politicians and found herself engulfed in a media frenzy. As fascination about her exploded, she generated an endless stream of headlines as the media dug up dirt about her to feed the public's seemingly bottomless thirst. Interestingly, while millions knew her name and the notorious reason behind her sudden fame, few knew the real woman behind the scandal. "Everyone knows me as 'that girl,' but I'm not just 'that girl,'" she said in a 2008 interview with People. "I have a lot of depth, a lot of layers."

While she gradually faded from public view after getting married and becoming a mom, Dupré has been pulled back into the spotlight thanks to the burgeoning fame of her stepdaughter, social media superstar Alix Earle.

So, who is the woman whose name has appeared in thousands of sordid headlines in what the media dubbed the "Love Gov" scandal? Keep reading to discover the untold truth of Alix Earle's stepmom, Ashley Dupré.

Ashley Dupré originally aspired to be a singer

Ashley Dupré — then known by her real name, Ashley Youmans — first discovered she could sing when her boyfriend, a musician, heard her belting out soul icon Aretha Franklin's "Respect" while taking a shower. As she wrote on her now-defunct MySpace page (as detailed by The New York Times), her boyfriend was so impressed with her voice that he and his band's guitarist recruited her to be their singer. Dupré wrote that she'd gone on tour with them and even recorded with the group. Among the numerous musical influences she referenced on social media were Lauryn Hill, Patsy Cline, Christina Aguilera, and Frank Sinatra. "I am all about my music and my music is all about me," she declared. "It flows from what I've been through, what I've seen and how I feel."

When the New Jersey native arrived in New York City in 2004, Dupré had one goal: to land a record deal and become a star. In NYC, she "spent the first two years getting to know the music scene, networking in clubs and connecting with the industry," she wrote on MySpace. "Now it's all about my music, it's all about expressing me."

Her career path, however, took a drastically different trajectory.

She didn't intend to become a high-priced escort — it just worked out that way

Aspiring singer Ashley Dupré was 19 when she met Jason Itzler in the lobby of a hotel. As Itzler told the New York Daily News, he approached her and offered his business card for his company, NY Confidential. After perusing the company's website, Dupré ascertained that Itzler's business was prostitution — and she was interested. Two days later, she called him. "She says, 'Hey, Jason ... I want to work for you.' When I caught my breath, I said, 'Do you know what I do?'" Itzler told the Daily News. "She's like, 'Yeah.' I said, 'Get over here.'"

Dupré proved to be a natural; in fact, Itzler was so pleased that he gifted her with a pair of $2,000 Manolo Blahniks after her first date. Before long, she'd become a favorite of his wealthy clientele. "This was probably the sexiest, hottest girl I had," Itzler declared. "She thrived on it, like a fish in water," he said of her on-the-job performance as a high-class escort whose clients shelled out $1,000 an hour to enjoy her services. "Almost like an actor on stage on Broadway. Alive, you know?"

Appearing on SiriusXM's "The Judith Regan Show," Dupré explained the simple reason she chose to become a sex worker. "For me, I was working three jobs, and I couldn't afford my rent," she said.

She was at the center of a major political sex scandal

In March 2008, a federal investigation into a prostitution ring resulted in a wiretap that surprisingly revealed the involvement of Elliot Spitzer, who was then governor of New York. Further digging uncovered that Spitzer was a regular customer who had spent a whopping $80,000 on escorts. That led to Spitzer being busted in a sting operation, with a federal affidavit stating that he had checked into a Washington, D.C. hotel under an assumed name in order to sleep with an escort identified as Kristen.

The New York Times was the first news outlet to identify Kristen as Ashley Dupré; according to the Times, she hadn't been charged but had been enlisted as a witness to testify against the four people charged with running the ring, known as Emperor's Club V.I.P. "This has been a very difficult time. It is complicated," Dupré told the Times, openly fretting about how she was going to be perceived now that her identity had been made public. "I just don't want to be thought of as a monster," she worried.

Within days of the scandal being reported, Spitzer resigned as governor. "I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me," he said in his brief remarks while his wife, Silda, stood stoically by her unfaithful husband's side.

She became a notorious tabloid celebrity

After she was outed as the escort who brought down Elliot Spitzer, Ashley Dupré's name began appearing frequently in the media. The Bergen Record reached out to members of her family in New Jersey, learning that she'd grown up in an upper-middle-class environment. Dupré's aunt, Barbara Youmans, revealed that she and other relatives had no idea that Dupré had gone into sex work. "We thought everything was fine and dandy and that she was doing great," Youmans said while also throwing a bit of shade Dupré's way. "Frankly," Youmans added, "as much as we love her, she was a spoiled brat."

The New York Daily News likewise did some digging, finding sources who recalled her expensive clothing and lavish vacations. "If she was a prostitute, she hid it well," one source divulged. Meanwhile, a former high school classmate claimed Dupré had a "bad reputation" and hung out with a crowd that was older than she was. Meanwhile, another report from the same outlet was rife with claims of her drug use. "I have seen her do cocaine," said one unidentified "friend," while another had allegedly witnessed her go through "multiple bags" of the stuff in a single evening. "She'd lock herself in a stall in the bathroom and snort away," that source alleged.

Dupré's grandfather, Peter Capalbo, appeared to take her newfound notoriety in stride. "Nothing I can do about it," he said. "What's she's done, she's done."

She turned down big bucks to pose naked — until Playboy called

As Ashley Dupré's notoriety grew, so too did the opportunities to exploit the public's apparently insatiable curiosity about her. That was evident in traffic to her MySpace page, which had received a staggering 9 million views in the wake of the Elliot Spitzer scandal. Within days of Spitzer's resignation, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt offered her a cool million to pose nude for his XXX-rated magazine. "A million dollars is more than what she would make as a call girl,” Flynt said, as reported by Bloomberg. "She's quite attractive. Maybe Spitzer wasn't paying too much after all.'"

Rival nudie magazine Penthouse also made overtures to Dupré. Marc Bell, CEO of Penthouse Media Group Inc., told Bloomberg that the company had various opportunities to offer her but didn't divulge how much money was on the table. He did, however, advise her to strike while the iron was still hot. "She's news,” Bell said. "The sooner she does something, the more money she can make. For all you know, there's going to be someone else who takes the news attention away from her.”

That prediction proved incorrect. Two years later, the public fascination with Dupré was still strong enough that she appeared on a 2010 cover of Playboy and posed for some steamy photos within the magazine itself.

She wrote a newspaper advice column

In December 2009, the New York Post hired Ashley Dupré to write an advice column, "Ask Ashley," focusing on love, sex, and relationships. In a video announcing her new gig, Dupré explained why she was uniquely qualified to provide advice. "Take it from me, someone who could have used a little advice in the past," she said. "There's nothing better than learning from somebody else's experiences."

"Ask Ashley" continued for a few years — in 2010, in fact, she devoted her entire column to her Playboy spread, explaining why she chose to wait until two years after the "Love Gov" scandal. "I spent the last two years trying to be known as anything other than a prostitute," she wrote. "You might find this shocking, but it's kind of hard to live down." As she pointed out, becoming a third-grade teacher — the job she envisioned for herself if her music career didn't pan out — was understandably now an impossibility. "At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make the most of my situation and build an honest life for myself," she said.

She closed out her run as an advice columnist nearly three years later, penning her final column in May 2012. She was moving on, she explained, in order to focus on Femme by Ashley, a lingerie and swimsuit store she'd opened in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Ashley Dupré's $10M lawsuit against Girls Gone Wild fizzled out

In the midst of Ashley Dupré's notoriety from the Spitzer scandal, another offer to pose naked came from "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis. As it happened, Francis checked his archives and discovered he already had nude footage of Dupré. According to a press release, the photos were taken when Dupré was vacationing in Miami while celebrating her 18th birthday. "It'll save me a million bucks," Francis told The Associated Press, confirming his offer was no longer on the table. "It's kind of like finding a winning lottery ticket in the cushions of your couch."

A problem emerged when Dupré's attorney, Don Buchwald, told TMZ that the video — in which she exposed her breasts — was taken more than a month before she turned 18 when she was still a minor. Dupré sued Francis, seeking $10 million in damages. Francis, however, insisted that he had both an ID countering her claims of being underage and her consent to appear in "Girls Gone Wild" videos.

The plot thickened when another woman, Amber Arpaio, sued Francis; she claimed the driver's license that Dupré used to prove her age was actually hers, which she'd lost and had somehow come into Dupré's possession. Dupré subsequently dropped her lawsuit. Nearly a decade later, in 2016, a judge ordered Francis to pay Arpaio $3 million.

She dated a Howard Stern Show staffer

In 2010, Ashley Dupré dropped by "The Howard Stern Show" to promote her New York Post advice column. That appearance led her to go on a date with show staffer J.D. Harmeyer.

Harmeyer — known to Stern's fans for his incoherent mumbling and his admission that he'd once gone more than a year without washing the sheets on his bed — wound up traveling to Los Angeles to take Dupré out for a night on the town. TMZ caught up with the pair while they were in the midst of their date. While Dupré expertly avoided the paparazzi and headed straight for their car, Harmeyer was barraged with questions — and even unsolicited advice, when one of the paps told him to discuss politics with her. When Harmeyer entered the vehicle, in which Dupré was already seated, one of the paparazzi shouted out a somewhat presumptuous question at her. "Hey Ashley, what are you guys planning for breakfast?" the guy asked.

While the date appeared to go well, it was not a match made in heaven, with Dupré and Harmeyer ultimately going their separate ways.

She had a brief career as a MySpace pop star

In the days after the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal, Ashley Dupré's MySpace page — which she'd initially set up to promote her singing aspirations — blew up. Her MySpace account hosted a demo of a pop single she'd recorded, "What We Want," which became an online hit when it was streamed more than 900,000 times. The song also received some legit radio airplay on New York's Z100 — at least until the novelty wore off. She then uploaded the song onto Amie Street, an online music retailer, where it could be downloaded at a cost of 98 cents. According to the New York Daily News, the song was listened to nearly 300,000 times, reportedly scoring her a sweet $200,000 payday.

She followed that up with a second single, "Move Ya Body." According to HuffPost, those two songs were ultimately listened to a combined half-million times. However, there was some confusion about how much she actually earned. While Amie Street did reveal how many times her songs had been listened to, the site didn't divulge how many people actually paid to download them. According to an estimate from Alley Insider, what she'd actually earned was probably more in the range of $13,000 or so.

In September 2009, she released another single, "I Feel So Alive Without You," followed in 2010 by "Inside Out." Both of the latter songs can be streamed on Spotify, where Dupré has six monthly listeners.

Ashley Dupré dabbled in reality TV

While Ashley Dupré's dreams of music stardom may not have come true, she proved to have a canny knack for prolonging her 15 minutes of fame. In July 2008, four months after the Spitzer scandal broke, E! News reported that she was in the midst of developing a reality TV dating show. "They're talking to MTV about Ashley becoming the next Tila Tequila," a source told the outlet. Further details emerged, revealing the idea that Dupré should host a dating show that was described as being like a cross between "Cinderella" and "Pretty Woman."

Although nothing ever came of the project, Dupré finally entered the realm of reality television in 2010 when she appeared in an episode of "Kell on Earth," the short-lived Bravo series centered on PR maven Kelly Cutrone, who'd come to fame via MTV's reality hit "The Hills." Described in onscreen text as "Kelly's friend," Dupré's presence in the front row at a Yigal Azrouël fashion show was instrumental in Cutrone's firm, People's Revolution, being fired by the fashion designer.

Dupré had a far meatier role the following year when she was one of the stars featured on the VH1 series "Famous Food," in which she and several other celebs (including "The Hills" alum Heidi Montag, former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Danielle Staub, one-time "Bachelor" Jake Pavelka, and "Sopranos" actor Vincent Pastore) attempted to open a restaurant.

Her marriage to Alix Earle's father generated controversy — and babies

Mere months after making headlines for the Spitzer scandal, 23-year-old Ashley Dupré found herself back in the headlines for yet another scandalous relationship. This time, it wasn't with a powerful politician but married New Jersey construction magnate Thomas "JT" Earle, father of future social media sensation Alix Earle. As the New York Post reported, Earle had been having an affair with Dupré. "TJ made a grave mistake," his lawyer, Mitchell Ansell, told the Post. "TJ has accepted full responsibility — he's not blaming anyone else."

Despite that public mea culpa, the affair didn't end. Earle eventually divorced his wife, and in 2012, Dupré revealed that she and Earle were engaged — and the couple were expecting a child. "On the record, yes, I can confirm I'm almost seven months," Dupre told Page Six. "I can't tell you when the wedding date is just yet." They welcomed a daughter, Izabel Jagger, and got married in 2013. They subsequently had another daughter, Penelope.

In 2015, Dupre took to Instagram to announce that she was shutting down her boutique, Femme by Ashley, in order to be a stay-at-home mom. "But as my children get older I realize that I can always reopen Femme, but I will not get another chance to raise and enjoy my children," she wrote. "So I have made the difficult decision to close Femme and focus my time on Izabel and Penelope."

Her relationship with Alix Earle started off frosty but grew warm

When Ashley Dupré married TJ Earle, she not only became his wife, but stepmother to the two daughters he shared with his first wife, Alisa — one of whom is Alix Earle.

According to Earle, her relationship with Dupré wasn't exactly cordial at first, given the scandalous past of the former escort and the role that she'd played in her parents' divorce. "I wanted to rip her head off," Earle said of her initial feelings about Dupré during an appearance on Alex Cooper's "Call Her Daddy" podcast (via E! News). In addition to her private rage, Earle also had to deal with the public humiliation of her father leaving her mom for a one-time sex worker whose claim to fame was being paid to sleep with the ex-governor of New York. That came into play when one of her teachers discussed the Spitzer scandal during a history lesson — with Earle's classmates well aware that Dupré was her stepmom. "I left school bawling my eyes out," Earle recalled. "I was so embarrassed."

Over the years, though, Earle's relationship with Dupré has improved considerably. In an interview with Elle, Earle revealed that the two are now "super close, and we've gotten to such a good point. Whatever's happened in the past, we've all gotten past it as a family."