A Gothic hip-hop artist who did illegal cosmetic surgery on the side boasted at her murder trial Thursday that her body sculpting work was so popular she was dubbed "the Michelangelo of buttocks injections."
Padge Victoria Windslowe, who performed under the name "Black Madam," is accused of killing a 20-year-old dancer from London during a procedure at an airport hotel that involved industrial-grade silicone and Krazy Glue.
The woman's 2011 death - and the months that Windslowe spent on the lam - led Philadelphia police to investigate the strange world of "pumping parties" and underground surgery.
"Everyone was calling me 'the Michelangelo of buttocks injections,'" Windslowe, 45, of Philadelphia told a judge at a final pretrial motion Thursday morning. "God's blessed my hands with everything I touch. I make lots of money, in lots of ways."
The judge said jurors must ultimately decide "the degree of recklessness" Windslowe assumed when they weigh third-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges.
The trial is expected to last several weeks and include testimony about another dancer hospitalized for two weeks after the silicone moved to her lungs. Windslowe is charged with aggravated assault in those injuries.
Windslowe allegedly fled the hotel room after dancer Claudia Aderotimi started having trouble breathing during "a touch-up" to celebrate her birthday in February 2011. She was dead by the next day.
"It's a nutso situation," defense lawyer David Rudenstein conceded in opening statements. "It almost blows your mind listening to it."
However, he said his lavishly-sculpted client would not have injected herself over the years if she didn't consider it safe.
The buxom Windslowe wore a low-slung white T-shirt, white skirt and white knee socks to court, along with white sneakers and a large white cross. Berry-tinged makeup defined her chiseled lips and cheeks.
The crisp outfit contrasted with her Gothic persona as an aspiring rap star. One of her music videos depicts her sitting on an ornate black throne under stormy skies and a cohort of horned, hooded people dressed in black robes.
Two clients testified Thursday that Windslowe charged $1,000 to $2,000 per session and said she was an experienced nurse or physician's assistant for a plastic surgeon. Both said they endure frequent discomfort and worry they may develop more serious health problems.
Windslowe's clients were "not rich, not millionaires like Kim Kardashian," and therefore sought cheaper options than plastic surgery, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said in opening statements, referring to the starlet who helped fuel the desire for a larger derriere.
Both clients stayed in touch with Windslowe and agreed to refer others for a fee. Scheffee Wilson said she recruited Aderotimi and her friend through a website and was in the room when she was injected.
"She just kept saying she has chest pains, she has chest pains," Wilson testified. "I was there all night. I was the one who called the ambulance."
She said Windslowe fled the room, prompting the defendant to mouth the word "Liar!" in court.
Windslowe, who is transgender, testified earlier in the day that she did not check her phone or email in the months afterward because she was in France and ignoring people who were "transphobic."
Windslowe rejected a plea offer of 15 to 30 years in prison in exchange for a third-degree murder plea. She faces 20 to 40 years on that charge if convicted at trial and more time for the other charges, including practicing medicine without a license.
Instead, she plans to tell her side of the story to jurors.
"More than anything in the world, I want to get up there and I want to talk," Windslowe said Thursday. "The most important thing is to put Claudia's mother at peace by speaking."