Everything is Still, SVAC: She Just Wanted to Throw Some Men Around

As featured in Saturday’s Opening, June 29. Image shot with CineStill 800 Tungsten Color, Motion Picture Film.

The red and white, polka-dot dress on the mannequin draws you in. Enter Paper Doll Vintage Boutique on Main Street in Sayville, Long Island and you are caught in the mystery and find yourself trying on the red and white dress or oversized, bright yellow sunglasses, or lilac clip-on earrings—none of which you would have imagined your “style” until you play with the persona. Why not?

A plaid, mohair suit brings you back to the 60s. You remember yourself at another time or as the storeowner Dominique Maciejka says, you imagine someone else—someone you haven’t been or the someone who wore the suit once before. What’s an identity?

It’s all delight and possibility in Paper Doll until it isn’t—until Dominique— after taking a Merchant Cash Advance to open and stock another store—found herself in litigation for fraud and now dressed in fear.

They’re legal and sometimes a necessary means of borrowing money—not all are predatory, Dominique says. She’d borrowed from MCAs before. OK, a higher rate of interest than a standard bank loan, but in need of funds to quickly build business without leveraging your stock and trade, you take the deal which allows for repayment proportionate to monthly sales and receipts. Dominique viewed this option as manageable and a way forward. But some of these MCAs are unscrupulous, threatening, and flat-out cons. In defense, you dress in armor. (Bloomberg Series: Confessions of Judgement)

Dominique and her partner Joe Laspina own two clothing stores, the Sayville spot and another in Patchogue, also on Long Island. In July 2018, she took out a Merchant Cash Advance from Quicksilver Capital to open a third LI shop in Huntington. But Quicksilver immediately began withdrawing a daily, fixed rate from the business bank account—not proportionate to sales and over the legal interest rate in New York State (Newsday Business Article)

Dominique immediately began to make phone calls to Quicksilver to reconcile the payments but was put off. The people on the other end of the phone started to disguise their voices—which Dominique could still recognize from previous calls. “But when they put me on the phone with Frank Rizzo—a character from the Jerky Boys—as their legal attorney,” Dominique says, “I knew they were messing with us and were being shady.”

It took six months of paying the daily fixed rate, lost revenue, and the now necessary closure of the Huntington store to settle—all for an original loan of $45,000. “I might have taken them to court further,” Dominique said, “but I wanted to stop the bleeding and was frightened by potential further consequences and damage to the business overall.

To push back against the stress and fear, Dominique revived her high school moniker, Dominique the Freak and took up pro-wrestling, in order, she says, “to throw some men around. You know me, Carol, body and costume and theatre.” She turned to her own inventory—a black leather bustier, short skirt, knee-high boots and laced gauntlets—a new stage to act out other stories and roles with plots to step in and out of—let go of the past and enter a new ring.

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