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But, was Dulai his client? Nearly everyone who spoke to me about this story had a different theory. Kubiak’s ex-girlfriend, Lisa*, who was living with him at the time, said Dulai was definitely his client. Lewis thinks so as well. When he and Elliott were cleaning out Dulai’s house after her death, they found an envelope with amounts written on them. “Ash, Rent, $2,700 (£1,900),” one read, another was for $4,700 (£4,000). But Elliott thinks the money wasn’t for sex.
“I know for a fact she wasn’t looking for no damn gigolo,” she told me, and speculated that Dulai was paying Kubiak’s dog walker while he was out of town. (Aman said she was given full access to Herleen’s bank account and there was no record of Herleen having paid Ash from it.) According to Elliott, Dulai rejected Kubiak when he first reached out to her, but he was persistent. Whether they were having a paid or unpaid relationship — or whether it shifted from one thing to another at some point — is unclear, but Kubiak’s parents say the two were communicating daily. In a matter of weeks, their relationship had gone from casual DMs to something far more intimate and intense.
Intensity was a quality Kubiak brought to everything he did. Raised by bohemian parents in both Maine and Japan, he and his two siblings were brought up in a spiritual tradition, focusing on Tantra. “From when he was a little boy, Akshaya grew up immersed in the healing traditions & philosophies of the East & West,” wrote his mother in a letter on Kubiak’s behalf to the court. Both his Asian-Indian mother and Polish-American father were teachers, and they exposed Kubiak to an “international crowd of scientists, poets and intellectuals, artists and academics of every stripe,” when he was a kid, according to his mum. Although his parents imply his childhood was happy, on an episode of Gigolos, Kubiak describes abuse: “I was hit by my godfather and other people, and I was quite harshly physically punished.” Kubiak’s father confirmed that the abuse happened while Kubiak and his brother were training at a horse ranch in Kyoto, Japan, though told me in an email he and his wife were unaware that “the embittered dispossessed farmer had started drinking heavily and became quite violent with Akshaya while ‘training’ him to become a useful regular at the ranch.”