The Sultan Of Smut?

SHANNON MARKETIC FLEW TO BRUNEI last year to do some ""promotional'' work for the sultan. She'd done a lot of that kind of thing--inspirational speeches, ribbon cuttings--since being crowned Miss USA from California in 1992. But when she and six other women arrived in the oil-rich strip on the South China Sea, Marketic says, she soon discovered that her billionaire host wasn't interested in her salesmanship--at least not the kind she's used at car-dealership openings. First the women had their passports confiscated. Then they were taken to the 1,788-room palace. On their first night, she and the others were drugged, she says; when she awoke, her clothes were ""disheveled.'' After being tested for sexually transmitted diseases, she claims, she was forced to entertain men at party after party. ""We were advised that if we were told we were going to "tea,' or not to wear makeup, that meant the person we were going to visit was going to have sexual relations with us,'' Marketic said in a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles. The 26-year-old beauty queen says she wasn't allowed to leave for 32 days.

There have been rumors about the sultan's imported harems for years. Ernesto Maceda, now president of the Philippine Senate, conducted hearings in 1993 into reports that the sultan had been luring Filipina models and performers to Brunei under false pretenses. But Marketic's suit, in which she charges the world's richest monarch with kidnapping and transporting women for prostitution and asks for more than $10 million in damages, is the first to accuse him of anything in court. (The six other women have not filed.) The sultan's American lawyers wouldn't comment on Marketic's suit, which was unsealed last week. But in a statement released earlier this month, the sultan said that he ""categorically'' denied Marketic's accusations and that he's never met her. That response didn't surprise David Jaroslawicz, Marketic's lawyer. ""If I asked you if you robbed a bank, you'd say you didn't do it,'' he says. ""White slavery is alive and well.''

Marketic says she was spared having to have sex with the seven or so men who frequent- ed the sultan's parties primarily because his brother, Prince Jefri, want- ed the 5-foot-10 blonde for himself. (Jefri wouldn't comment, though Marketic doesn't allege he slept with her.) But she says she was still forced to perform ""physically and morally repulsive acts.'' The evenings allegedly began promptly at 10. Marketic says a mirrored ball descended from the sultan's party room, and the women--who were instructed not to wear denim or the color yellow--were told to dance. The men, seated at tables piled with hard-core pornography, invariably shouted epithets, Marketic alleges. In the lawsuit, she says one man named David yelled, ""You are the worst group of whores we have had over here.'' At one party, she claims, a man called Dr. Liam threw her over his shoulder and carried her around the room, screaming; another asked Marketic to let him ""replace your G-string with something better.'' Why was she wearing the G-string in the first place? ""When you're 10,000 miles from home, you do enough to get along--until it gets to be too much,'' says Jaroslawicz.

Marketic was apparently suspicious about the trip from the beginning. She had agreed to be paid $21,200 a week, a hefty sum even for a professional speaker. (She ultimately received about $10,000 total.) Elizabeth and David Khan, the owners of Kaliber, the obscure Los Angeles talent agency that booked her on the trip, asked for writing samples and her college transcript, which helped allay her concerns. Marketic--a graduate business student and a devout Christian who lectures against abortion and premarital sex--says she told the Khans she would not participate in any sexual activity. The Khans, whom Marketic is also suing, could not be reached for comment. The address they listed as a business ""suite'' is just a commercial mail drop, and their lawyer would not return phone calls. As Marketic's suit winds its way through the U.S. courts, the sultan plans to hide in a different way: he's pleading diplomatic immunity.

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