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In this crazy, mixed-up Trumpian world of ours, it’s pretty much been proven that if you say something false enough times, it becomes true—at least to certain segments of the population and the media’s more credulous corners. Like: impoverished immigrants trudging toward our southern border are harboring terrorists. Or: the American middle class can look forward to a gigantic tax cut. If you happen to be a well-known cosmetic surgeon in Houston, you might even seize upon the current moment to lay claim that you have replicated the face of First Daughter Ivanka Trump upon one of your patients.
Such an innovator is Dr. Franklin A. Rose, who has made a name for himself by (a) enhancing the face and body of Lady Walker, the paramour of J. Howard Marshall before he encountered Anna Nicole Smith, and (b) greatly augmenting the breasts of countless strippers who work in the gentleman’s clubs around town, which eventually made Rose the cosmetic surgeon of choice for a certain strata of Houston café society. He is also, not at all coincidentally, the father of attorney Erica Rose, who made a name for herself as a reality-TV star. (The Bachelor, Bachelor Pad, etc.) Rose’s wife, Cindi, is a silhouette artist.
So maybe it isn’t surprising at all that Rose was characteristically in full bloom last night for what was billed as an “Ivanka Trump Reveal,” with Inside Edition running the evening. Depending on who you talked to, Rose was either helping a young woman named Sarah Schmidt “achieve her dream,” or Schmidt was playing along with Rose’s dream of more free publicity. “Ivanka is beautiful,” a friend of Schmidt’s expounded, “and
Rose, who did a similar “Melania-in-the-Making” reveal on another patient a year or so back, put it this way in the press release: “This might be the 1000th very, very beautiful patient that I’ve operated on; in a fascinating way, it’s sort of more enjoyable because you can take the beautiful into the hyper-beautiful. It’s not really surprising to see even more women now requesting to look more like Ivanka, who is simply gorgeous.”
Schmidt with Dr. Franklin A. Rose.Photograph by Omar Marcos.
Cue-ball bald and bespectacled, but wearing a formfitting gray suit that telegraphed his aggressively successful battle with middle age, Rose was nothing if not ebullient, warmly clasping the hands of his guests—many with very high cheekbones and very thick lips and very, very large breasts—as they wistfully left their Range Rovers and BMWs with the valets of a trendy, relatively new restaurant called Emmaline. Gently, Rose directed his guests to the obligatory red carpet photo spot, and then it was on to a side entrance beside the patio, where they each ante’d up $30 to benefit the Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation, which provides free reconstructive surgery to post-cancer patients. Most of the women were in full night-on-the town regalia—sky-high heels, body-bonding dresses, and extra furry lashes—following the suggested dress code of “camera-ready.”
An hour or so went by in this way, as guests sipped wine and munched on generous plates of salumi. A poster of a beaming if noncommittal Ivanka sat next to a makeshift stage. One guest in the crowd of about 70 could be heard complaining about wine prices in Germany. “There’s already another Ivanka here,” confided another guest, indicating a whippet-thin and somewhat sullen young blonde who had earlier announced herself as being “with the show” when asked to pay the entrance fee.
Finally, Chris Dukas, easily identifiable as the Inside Edition auteur by his gargantuan camera, moppy black curls, and blowing-horn manner, herded the crowd to the foot of a grand staircase inside the restaurant. There, crushed together, he suggested they try some yell practice. Texans are nothing if not great whoop-de-doers, and they enthusiastically obliged. Several times. In between rehearsals, they glanced expectantly at the top of the stairs for Ivanka 2.0. Everyone was holding up camera-ready cell phones. “Get in! Get in!” Dukas bellowed.
They didn’t quite get it when the pretty, young woman in the black gown with the plunging neckline appeared at the top of the stairs, descending like Cinderella at the ball. Schmidt’s long blonde hair shimmered, and the bling at her ears, throat, and wrist had a nifty sparkle. Her teeth were a glacial white, set off by impeccably applied scarlet lips. Just to be sure he got the shot, Dukas had Schmidt go back up the stairs and make her entrance four more times to four more sets of cheers.
There was just one problem. Schmidt didn’t look a thing like Ivanka. Not at all. No way, no how. She looked instead like a pretty enough young woman with subtle enhancements, maybe in the chest region. No one mentioned this as Schmidt posed with Rose, and then the Ivanka portrait, which maybe wasn’t such a good idea. But maybe, on the other hand, there was a slight resemblance to Ivanka. You just weren’t supposed to look that closely. Yes, then you could see it all, oh so clearly.
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Mimi Swartz is a senior executive editor at Texas Monthly and the author of Ticker: the Quest to Create an Artificial Heart.