"In the world of strippers," explained Sharnell Saunders, where "a bigger butt is money," Lillian's craftsmanship was renowned.
"It was hearsay through the strip club," the stripper told a Philadelphia jury Monday. Saunders said she admired the work firsthand on her fellow performers: "Their butts, from the outside, looked like good quality."
Word of mouth yielded a phone number, and in early 2011, Saunders said, "Lillian" came to her East Germantown rowhouse and injected silicone into her buttocks and those of a half-dozen other strippers. "Lillian" is the professional name of Padge Victoria Windslowe, who is on trial in Common Pleas Court on third-degree murder charges in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of exotic dancer Claudia Aderotimi.
Aderotimi flew to Philadelphia from London for a buttocks-enhancement procedure that consisted of silicone injections administered by Windslowe, 43, also known as the "Black Madam," at an airport-area hotel. The 20-year-old died after the silicone migrated to her lungs.
Saunders, 29, testified for the prosecution at the start of the second week of Windslowe's trial.
In addition to third-degree murder, Windslowe is charged with aggravated assault for injections she gave 23-year-old Sherkeeia King in February 2012 at a "pumping party" at Saunders' Pastorius Street home.
King was hospitalized, vomiting blood and struggling to breathe. Doctors found that silicone in her buttocks had migrated through her bloodstream to her heart and lungs.
Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega, Saunders said that her first injections from Windslowe went well and that she was pleased with the results of the $500 procedure.
Two days later, Saunders said, she and her colleagues were stunned to hear of Aderotimi's death. Saunders said she tried for days to reach Windslowe before learning the number had been disconnected.
"She dropped off the face of the planet," Saunders testified.
In early 2012, Saunders continued, she learned that Lillian was back in business, and made an appointment for more injections. This time, she said, she asked about the woman who had died.
"She said, 'That woman was drunk and high, and probably didn't do what I told her to, but I didn't kill her,' " Saunders told the jury of six women and six men.
Saunders said she organized about four or five "butt parties" for Windslowe at her house until Feb. 29, 2012, when police raided a party at her home and arrested Windslowe.
Later, Saunders said, she learned Windslowe was not using medical-quality silicone and had no medical training.
She also learned that one guest at a party 10 days earlier - King - was in a hospital.
King, now 26, testified that she knew after her first buttock was done that "something was not right."
By the time she got home, King testified, she had a high fever and was coughing up blood.
King said she was hospitalized for 15 days and then spent three weeks at home tethered to an oxygen tank.
Even now, King said, she cannot climb steps without getting winded.
The procedure has also hurt her earning ability. King said she can no longer work the pole or the runway in the club; she can only walk the floor and mingle with customers for tips.
Defense attorney David S. Rudenstein has said Windslowe would testify that she believed the injections were safe and thus had no criminal intent.
In questioning Saunders and King, Rudenstein stressed that they sought out Windslowe and the injections.
"What happened to the rope?" Rudenstein asked Saunders.
"What rope?" she replied.
"The rope she tied you down with to do this to you," he said.