The tale of Steven Slater—the JetBlue flight attendant who became a folk hero by storming off the job on an inflatable slide—keeps getting better. Gay sex, happy bragging, family tragedy, HIV status, and a confused ex-wife ahead. [Updated]
Yesterday we heard how the disgruntled flight attendant's altercation with a passenger (which was related to a suitcase and/or overhead bin bonking Slater on the head) culminated in him announcing over the plane intercom, "To the fucking asshole who told me to fuck off, it's been a good 28 years. I've had it. That's it," then grabbed two beers from the galley, activated the jet's inflatable slide, and bolted off the job. The content of Slater's rant remains in dispute: Some say he called the passenger a "motherfucker" instead of an "asshole," and others dispute who told whom to "fuck off." (And although he seemed to suggest he'd been working as a flight attendant for 28 years, he started working for the airlines 20 years ago.)
Either way, the word "fuck" occurred twice, and the act of fucking occurred once: As soon as the surly steward arrived at his beachfront home in the Rockaways, he jumped into bed with his boyfriend, and was mid-coitus when the police arrived to arrest him for reckless endangerment and trespassing. The New York Daily News reports the scene of the arrest:
He boasted to skeptical cops that he really did escape by chute with his carry-on luggage.
"Oh, yes, I did! I threw them down first and I went down after," he told cops, sources said.
He was grinning as police walked him in handcuffs to a squad car. "He left with a big smile on his face," said neighbor Curt Karkowski.
The New York Post adds that Slater told authorities he was HIV-positive. During his arrest Slater was photographed in a sage green t-shirt and madras shorts. Many outlets have noted that Slater's MySpace profile (which we raided yesterday) testifies to a history of "alcoholism and substance abuse." Did a life crisis predicate the haughty high-flier's mid-tarmac meltdown? We return to the Daily News:
"Slater's mother is dying," said Judy Rochelle, whose son Kenny lives with Slater. "She has lung cancer. She's had two chemos and the prognosis is not good. They were on their way out to California this weekend to settle her affairs."
Rochelle added that Slater "watched his father die of Lou Gehrig's disease not long ago. Slater's under a lot of pressure."
Judy's son Kenny appears to be the boyfriend that Slater was hooking up with when the cops showed. Kenny's brother John describes Slater as "an everyday ordinary guy, a nice guy."
Meanwhile, an interview with Slater's ex-wife and "great friend" Cynthia Susanne is interesting primarily for the revelation that Slater was once married. (Leave it to the "nice guy" to marry his fag hag.)
What happens next to our dramatic folk hero? The Queens district attorney is moving ahead with criminal charges, which could be punishable with as many as seven years in jail, which would be a major bummer, since he's now an anointed hero of the recession's overworked underclass. Steven Slater as yet to break his silence. [NYDN, TMZ, NYPost, Slate]
Update: According to his Legal Aid lawyer, Slater remains in police custody after failing to post a $2500 bail. Charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and criminal trespass, "I think he can't believe the amount of attention he's getting," lawyer Howard Turman said. "People who deal with the public face stress." Turman told reporters that Slater's altercation included a female passenger who "slammed the overhead" bin into Slater's head, and Times' City Room blog located a passenger who confirms that the flight attendant had a 1.5" red gash on his forehead. And why did Slater use the inflatable slide? "It was there," said Turman.