THERE’S SEX. THERE’S MONEY. THERE ARE vague hints of violence. There’s a jealous French nobleman and a good-hearted American daredevil. There’s a very wealthy widow using her money to come between her son and the woman he loves. No. this isn’t a summary of Roxanne Pulitzer’s latest steamy Palm Beach roman à clef. This is a summary of Roxanne Pulitzers latest steamy Palm Beach marriage.
As a novelist, Roxanne, 42, is more often mentioned in the same breath with Ivana Trump than, say, Charles Dickens. (Her most recent potboiler, Facade, was faintly praised by one critic as “short…and probably not the worst book ever published.”) But Roxanne has an undeniable talent for roiling the waters in staid old Palm Beach. The society doyennes there have never forgiven her for her very messy 1982 divorce from second husband Peter Pulitzer, heir to the Pulitzer publishing fortune. The sordid details included Roxanne’s sharing her bed with a variety of lovers as well as a trumpet, used as a “metaphysical outlet.” Roxanne has again set tongues wagging on the diamond-encrusted play-land with her third marriage, on Oct. 16, to aspiring speedboat racer John Haggin Jr., 35. and her breakup with Jean, Comte de la Moussaye, 31, with whom she had had a two-year affair.
“I married my best friend,” bubbles Roxanne happily from her two-bedroom apartment on the door above De la Moussaye’s. She and Haggin, she says, eloped to Las Vegas and were wed in the Candlelight Wedding Chapel. “Imagine,” she says, “before bed, we went to an Andrew Dice Clay concert.”
Back from Vegas, Roxanne shared her joy with the people who matter most to her, starting with her twins Mae and Zac, 15, who live with their father. “The boys look it well,” she says, “but Jean was livid. He pinned me against the wall with a golf club.” De la Moussaye, whose family wealth has insulated him from ever actually having to hold a job, remembers the moment more poignantly. “Roxanne cried and held me and said she was sorry things didn’t work out.” he says. “We had been breaking up for several months.” He says he wishes her well.
Someone who definitely docs not wish the newlyweds well is Roxanne’s wealthy new mother-in-law, Naoma Haggin, 79. Naoma whisked John off on a six-week trip to the South Pacific just five days after the wedding. She has not met Roxanne—and she may never do so. “She is very upset that I married Roxanne,” says John by telephone from Hawaii. So upset, “My mother has cut me off financially. She has disinherited me. But I am madly in love with Roxanne. I am not divorcing her.” In fact, a close friend of the family says she is willing to bet that Naoma—whose fortune comes from Lakeside Press, which publishes the Yellow Pages—will try to have the marriage dissolved before she and John return home in early December.
Roxanne professes not to be upset by the storm clouds on her marital horizon and pines for her absent bridegroom. “He is a most giving person,” she says. “He made a thousand sandwiches for victims of Hurricane Andrew. He works in soup kitchens.” De la Moussaye is a little less charitable about his replacement. “He drinks beer from a keg in his living room,” he mutters. “He has a moose head on the wall.”
Roxanne thinks it’s all sour grapes. “Palm Beach,” she says, “is human nature in its lowest form. The wealthy people here are bored, with nothing to do. They hale to see people who are happy.”
LINDA MARX in Palm Beach