Rose says Manos hired her for just $35 a day, and never paid her. She filed a $500 suit against him and won when Christian Michael de Medici failed to appear at a court hearing. Rose says she wasn't the only one cheated out of the pay, but she and the crew fed off Manos' enthusiasm. "Even if what he's saying is a lie, there's something that overrides that. You know he believes it himself," Rose says. "I've thought about this so much. It's not that he wanted to be famous ...He wanted the experience of being perceived as famous."

Manos still claims the network's interest in Pop Life was real. The show is about a European trust-fund baby seeking to spread his wealth around, and make the world a better place while reveling in the city's nightlife and shopping around a reality television show he's hoping to produce. It's a tangle of semi-scripted meta-reality, like MTV's The Hills taken to a new dimension; a reality show based on the flamboyant alter ego he had invented to avoid capture, capitalizing on the make-believe de Medici back story.

For the premiere of the Pop Life pilot on September 25, 2008, Manos staged a huge party at Mansion (now M2 Ultralounge): a fashion show, a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the last big event Manos planned before leaving New York. In a red-carpet interview outside the event (which Pop Life's cameras were also shooting for the show), Manos gushed about his show's big message: "We are changing lives, we are having fun, we are being debaucherous." Asked to describe the show, Manos offers, "My show Pop Life follows my life, which is inspired by real events, and you have to figure out what's real and what's not." Then he looks directly at the camera, holding his gaze for a beat too long, as if daring the audience to separate the real in his life from the fake. "Is it live or is it Memorex, ladies and gentlemen?"

Michael Manos hid behind a series of aliases after jumping his parole, but he could never keep a low profile. Opposite: During Pop Life’s 2008 red-carpet premiere in New York City, Manos may have revealed more about himself than he intended, saying in an interview that his show “follows my life, which is inspired by real events.”
Brett Vander
Michael Manos hid behind a series of aliases after jumping his parole, but he could never keep a low profile. Opposite: During Pop Life’s 2008 red-carpet premiere in New York City, Manos may have revealed more about himself than he intended, saying in an interview that his show “follows my life, which is inspired by real events.”

Manos' uncle Jimmy, the man who took Manos to his first nightclub, had come to see the Pop Life premiere, but was suffering from lung cancer, says Manos. Three weeks later he was in a coma. By then, Manos' cousin Tracy figured out that Michael had returned to New York. While his family rallied to support his uncle at his hospital bedside, Manos says he feared being arrested if he returned. Jimmy died on January 25, 2009, and Manos fled, leaving his grieving family and his reality show behind.

Dallas

It's no surprise that Manos would flee to Dallas—not the real Dallas of commerce and can-do entrepreneurs, but the TV series Dallas, the fake, beyond-the-pale '80s product full of audacious wealth, scheming men and glamorous women. Manos admits the TV show put the city on his radar.

From past visits, he knew the Ashton, a swanky Uptown apartment building, and in August 2009, he negotiated a one-year lease on a 17th-floor apartment with the first three months free. In October he moved to the 21st-floor penthouse, a more appropriate place for his parties, and he sublet the apartment downstairs. According to a complaint later filed with Dallas police, his lease agreement is one of the few documents Manos signed under one of his pseudonyms.

Armed with a new five-year plan, he went to work creating a fashion/news/entertainment media company he named SFR, and a new persona he adopted, based on an international driver's license from Bulgaria with the name Mordan Stefanov.

Even though he had yet to publish a single issue of SFR's magazine, he parlayed his role as publisher of SFR into an invitation to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's annual VIP fundraiser. Trailed by the photographer he'd hired for the night, Manos made new contacts. "He showed up late, but he tried to be in all the pictures with the famous people at the very beginning," recalls the photographer Brett Vander. "I've been to these things with the millionaires and the famous people, but this was the billionaires' club. Within 10 minutes, it was Perot, the Meyersons, and Hunt."

Women accustomed to these staid fundraising affairs were putty in the hands of a seasoned club cruiser like Manos. "I was amazed seeing how people reacted to him—he really drew these society women out," Vander says.

Manos found a close friend in Abbe Mandel, who runs a high-profile promotional business called the Luxury Gift Envelope, and who drove Manos to Southfork Ranch so he could see the Dallas mansion up close. "He was like nobody I'd ever met. He just was funny to me, I just got a little kick out of him," says Mandel who learned early on about his fake identity. "When I found out that he didn't report to his parole, it didn't even faze me. A lot of people have back stories. We never know."

Others he worked with weren't as taken by him. "Did I think his name was Mordan? Hell no. Come on," says Sean McGinty, who chauffeured Manos and other business partners around Dallas a few times. "He was good with the B.S., man, but most promoters are."

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10 comments
Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson

I know Michael Manos well and he leaves a path of destruction. He always destroys everyone around him and he quietly disappears as a thief in the night.

marie
marie

I met that criminal when he was in Sing Sing twice a parole violator. Everything that comes out of that criminals mouth is a lie.

Dave
Dave

"Dallas?" celebrities, society, "bella Boyz hottest new reality show?" is this some kind of a joke. What next "the real Housewives of Collin County?' I can't stop laughing.

Joe
Joe

Haha, I wonder who the dumbass was that let him into inner circles.

Mark R.
Mark R.

I met Tony and "Peach" the same night of the NY's party. Nice guys, sorry to see they were taken. My brush with fame, I guess :) Good Job, Observer folks!!!

Ginny
Ginny

Sounds like his name should be Seneca Smith! Thnat is the biggest con artist I have ever run into- lies to make you think he is someone that he is not, always changing his name, steals stuff and sells it to others (like cars) and needs to be in prison.If you run into someone like 6'5 who says his dad is in charge of Virgin records or something else big and rich, you may want to think of this article and BE CAREFUL!!!

chevytexas
chevytexas

Hm, "defrauded the gay community"? I hardly think that statement flies. "Defrauded a few self-deluded queens" doesn't make a community; chumps come in every category. Dallas isn't much different from Atlanta in recognizing a scam, but allowing it to proceed for the sense of theater. This guy's story is interesting for an article, not much of a bump in the scale of fraud. Doesn't anyone remember the Meaders' anymore? Shades of the Potashniks.

Ben Had'ee
Ben Had'ee

Had a relative show up at that Bella party and they called me going off about what a special event it was..I could smell the scam from their description of everything and when I saw pictures of this cartoon character working the "red carpet" omg I cracked up laughing. In a way these kind of characters are good for cities...they remind us all of how thin the line is between the real thing and make believe. How could anyone take his "scene" seriously...if they did..maybe they need to analyze why. This smacks of Bruno'esq antics where the fool may be making a bigger fool out of it's victims.

Hall
Hall

This happens every year or two in Dallas. Last one I remember was the 'Rockefeller' child, virtually identical facts. Come on, anybody with half a brain knew when they met him, heard all the plans, this was a con. A high-rise leased without a credit check? Nobody sat him down, "Who the Hell are you?" (I can understand a Reagan administration official being too stupid, that's another story.) It was fun, entertaining, in the grand scheme of things, really didn't cost all that much.

Skipper
Skipper

BC Dallas is a suckers town. There are several "high flyers" in Ft. Worth too. All the ladies of court like be entertained by the flamboyant jesters and will get burned if they get too close to their flaming batons.

 
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