None of them agreed to be photographed for this think piece.
"Imagine living every day with a mother who looks younger than you do," says Devorah Kazmarazz, the oldest of Victoria Kazmarazz's three daughters, "Imagine what that does for your self-esteem as you approach middle age. Of course, I know that she's got a surgeon and a beautician on 24-hour call, but who else out there knows that? To the rest of the world, this is just how she looks. It's embarrassing. It's shameful."
Devorah, Allisaya and Nova are the three daughters of the billionaire heiress and entrepreneur Victoria Kazmarazz—something all three will tell you has brought enormous complications to their lives.
The four women are at the centre of one of Cascadia's most protracted legal battles—the fight over the final testament of James McCann. McCann, the famous serial entrepreneur, was the founder of two companies listed on the Cascadia Stock Exchange: ZXY Endeavors and the Sassy Lass Entertainment Company.
That legal fight has been unusually public—with Victoria and Devorah appearing regularly on the covers of Cascadia's more salacious tabloids for years.
Devorah claims both in public and in court that Victoria faked McCann's will and that she bribed at least two magisters to rule in her favour.
Victoria counterclaims that Devorah was cut out of McCann's will because the two had become estranged because of Devorah's upcoming nuptials to the son of a former business partner of McCann.
Both claim that the other is lying.
Elements of the sordid history of this family seem made for the pages—and covers—of Filthy Lucre Magazine. Indeed, some episodes are too much even for the editors of the notoriously lax tabloid. In a rare response to a query, Filthy Lucre's editor-in-chief, Able Laxsmi, was unusually forthright: "We will publish anything, well almost anything, about the Kazmarazz family because it's like printing money. People eat this stuff up. It's epic, Greek-Tragedy level intrigue. They all want money, power, respect and they'll all do just about anything to get it. We love the Kazmarazz family. We owe them so much."
Privacy, it turns out, isn't one of those things.
On August 11th, 2016 Filthy Lucre broke the sensational story that Devorah was leaving her betrothed, the wealthy and respected Peter Lins, for a dandy and sometime rent-boy by the name of Charles Wiles.
The spread in Lucre featured photos of Devorah and Charles enjoying a sunny day at the McCann family beach house.
Shortly after the piece aired, Victoria sued for possession of the house and had it torn down.
A week later Lins and second sister Nova were spotted together boarding a plane for a vaction in the Kingdom of Hawaii—famous as a retreat for the exceptionally rich and well-connected due to its tight privacy laws enforced by the Hawaiian royal family.
Two days after that, Filthy Lucre reported that Devorah had been spotted confronting Victoria at the Kazmarazz mansion in the Wallamet foothills. According to reports: "Devorah was screaming that her mother had ruined her life, that she'd stolen everything from her—her father, her money—that she'd taken everything from her and that Devorah was going to get back every single penny that she'd ever stolen from her."
Victoria apparently unperturbed by the threats suggested that Devorah find something meaningful to do with her life instead of biting around the ankles of people who are creating jobs and making money.
To get a better understanding of the sensationalism and how it started, we need to go back in time.
It's widely believed that Victoria Kazmarazz isn't her real name—that Kazmarazz is a poetic invention created to give its bearer a hint of sizzle, dazzle, and razzle. It's an image that Victoria has cultivated since first coming to prominence in the Pørtland society world more than two dozen years ago.
That image helped her secure a number of high-profile lovers.
"Her goal was always to make money the old fashioned way," says Hannah Blumenthal, an old acquaintance of Victoria's, "At every party, her eyes fixated on the richest men in the room. She wanted to ensnare them, and she always did. Her ultimate plan was to marry them and take their money one way or another. Single or already married, it didn't matter. In fact, she liked the chase better if they were married because it meant she might get to destroy somebody else's life in the process of making herself happy. I can't really say too many nice things about Victoria—she's a real piece of work. That was how she got James."
James, of course, is James McCann.
"I remember when they first met," says Howard Selkregg, a former ZXY board member, "They saw each other from across the room, and it was like two electromagnets."
Their courtship was quick and passionate. They were married within two weeks—and Victoria was pregnant almost immediately.
"James was in love," says Selkregg, "I couldn't ever really tell for sure with Victoria, everything always seemed staged with her. She always seemed like she was acting."
A year after Devorah was born, Victoria was again pregnant—with Nova.
After Nova was born, things started to sour between them.
"Victoria started to move into James' business world. She started by secretly sitting in on conference calls and privately reaching out to staff members with ideas and suggestions. Soon she was calling her own meetings with staff behind James' back. He was furious. These two businesses were his babies, and while he was okay with Victoria being the mother of his biological children he wasn't okay with her being the mother of his other children," says Katey Paul, a longtime friend of the family. "The ironic thing is that Victoria had very little interest in raising Devorah and Nova. Their care was left largely to a series of nannies—none lasting longer than a few months because Victoria would find some pretext to sack them. It caused an enormous amount of upheaval in the young girl's lives."
Devorah suffered from manic depression and bipolar disorder, and Nova fell victim to a series of eating disorders and often had panic attacks.
"Things changed dramatically when James and Victoria got divorced," says Paul, "The girls went to live with James—Victoria wanted absolutely nothing to do with them."
The divorce costs McCann a lot of money.
McCann ended up giving her huge chunks of both companies—not controlling interests, but still, sizeable holdings. Almost all of his cash, very nearly a billion sovereigns, was forfeited to Victoria and four of the couple's houses—including a castle in France that McCann's father had won in a Snapjack tournament.
"Victoria had always wanted to be royalty. She often told people she was distantly related to some Duke or Baroness or Count. She demanded that castle, and to this day she spends every other week there," says Paul, "It filled the dark part of her ego, the part that always wanted to prove that she was better than everybody else."
Following the divorce, Victoria embarked on a spree of wild partying.
"She was beyond control," says Paul, "There were experimental drugs, barrels of booze, and countless young men. It was basically a harem of pool boys, rent boys, and cabana boys."
Her parties became legendary. Anybody who was anybody wanted an invite—the rich and powerful came to play. The young and attractive came to be played with. These young men and women would show up at her parties, hoping to find a husband or a patron. Most often, the outcomes were darker.
"She used people up," says Paul, "It was around that time that we stopped seeing each other. After the infamous 2001 Winter Solstice."
The Winter Solstice Party became front-page news—and not just on the pages of Filthy Lucre. The precise details of the incident have been hidden for years under the weight of bribes, threats of extortion, and a pact of mutually assured destruction that made certain that what happened at Kazmarazz's events stayed at her events.
In the unofficial report of at least two attendees, there were four bodies—three young men and one young woman—with drug overdoses listed as the cause of death for all of them.
"It wasn't drugs," confirms Paul, "Maybe one of the men was drugs, but I don't think so. I only saw the bodies after they'd been covered up, but blood was soaking through the sheets that covered them, three of them. I don't know what it was. I only heard rumours about a room in the basement of the house with soundproofing and a large number of devices. I guess you could say. I haven't spoken to Victoria since then, and I hope never to again."
After the incident, however, Victoria kept a lower profile. She spent four months at the castle in France and cultivated relationships with the French nobility. She purchased a title from a particularly destitute count and began to style herself Countess Anjou. The stories Victoria told about her distant relatives connected her to the French and Australian royalties—claiming to be descended from Alyce, the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis the Seventh. A member of the so-called "shadow-line" that claims right to the throne of the Empire of Australia by virtue of Alyce being the oldest daughter of the dynasty's founder.
All the while, Victoria's daughters were growing up, growing into young women under the tutelage of their father and an army of instructors he brought in. It was a period of relative stability for Nova and Devorah, and during this time they excelled in their studies and began, slowly to heal after the damage their mother had inflicted upon them.
"The summer of my fourteenth birthday was the happiest time of my life," Devorah recalled to me over coffee, "Mother was far, far away in France and we spent the entire summer at the beach. Nova and I would go for walks. We would flirt with the boys on the boardwalk. We were like two little princesses in a tiny town. Everybody knew us. Everybody looked after us. It was heaven."
Then, in September it got complicated by the arrival of a third sister, Allisaya.
Allisaya was born six weeks premature—and whether as a result of being born premature or due to other circumstances, she was born incredibly sickly. Doctors were unsure she would live to six months. James took Devorah and Nova to meet their new half-sister and the circumstances under which he found Allisaya being treated he found appalling.
"I remember them arguing about it," recalled Devorah. "Daddy screamed that Allisaya needed proper medical treatment and Victoria screamed back that if Allisaya died, it was because she was weak and no weak daughter of hers would live to dim her light. It was terrible. Nova and I just sat in the next room listening to them fight it out. Victoria threw something a lamp or something at daddy, and that was the end of the fight. He opened the door and came out, and his face was bleeding, but he turned to us and told us to get our things and head back to the auto. He picked up Allisaya from her bassinet and carried her out, and he took her home with us. I think he probably saved Allisaya's life that day."
By all accounts, if Victoria missed her new-born daughter, she didn't show it much.
"I don't think Alli even spoke to Victoria until she was eight years old," recalls Devorah, "Nova and I raised her more than anybody else."
Devorah and Nova were fiercely protective of their baby sister. When she was sick, they nursed her. When she was sad or lonely, they comforted her. They tried to teach her everything they could about the world—and to protect her from their mother as much as possible.
"Alli grew up not knowing how awful Victoria was. She grew up not knowing much of anything about her, which was probably for the best," Devorah told me.
And while there were a great number of topics that Nova Kazmarrazz wouldn't discuss, Allisaya wasn't one of them: "Watching Alli grow up has been the great joy of my life," she intoned, "And she's such a remarkable young woman. Truly the best of all of us. The rest of us have faults, some even great chasms, but Alli is a bright, shining star in the dark firmament of our family. She justifies the existence of the rest of us sinners."
On Devorah's 23rd birthday she announced that she was joining the Legion of Australia.
James McCann had raised the girls to be fiercely independent thinkers capable of making their own decisions and their own ways in the world.
For Devorah, this meant cultivating a fondness for the martial arts and for the nuance of military history.
"Growing up," Nova recalled of her sister, "Devorah loved reading of the history of the Empire and its great military conquests. She memorized the exploits of The Red Lion, the history of the Guinean Wars, and the French conquest of Germany. It was a sort of obsession with her."
The Legion's initial ranking is determined by a rigorous evaluative process. As a self-selective group, most come from martial backgrounds and have training. Still, most are assigned the rank of Soldier-at-Arms, the lowest rank. Some manage Corporal or Sergeant. Devorah was immediately granted the rank of Lieutenant—something that had happened only two other times in the three-hundred-year history of the Legion and then only by relatives of the reigning Empress.
"To say she was bright would be an understatement," said a colleague, who at the time was a fellow Lieutenant, "She was always the smartest person in the room, but had a knack for operating in a way that wouldn't rub people wrong, that communicated her dedication to the team and the savviness of her ideas. She's a remarkable operator with a keen strategic mind."
In the course of four years, Devorah was promoted three times, becoming the youngest Lieutenant Colonel in the Legion.
Seven years after joining, and with the rank of full Colonel, came the ascendance of Eleanor Thirty-Three to the throne. The new Empress curtailed the operations of the Legion throughout the world and Devorah was honourably discharged from the Legion with a full commendation.
But while she had excelled at military life, she found herself unable to cope with the civilian world.
She returned to Pørtland to spend time with her father, but he had little time for her with all his business demands. By then Nova was gone as well—off running a division at Sassy Lass. Allisaya was gone, too, now spending time in the company of a brother of the True Disciples and embarking on a life of quiet contemplation—unusual for a girl of just sixteen.
Devorah began to drift, to drink, to devolve into what one friend termed "a wild mess". She began to frequent less-than-reputable drinking establishments like the Dead Loon, the Salty Ee'na, and Wiffle Bar. She spent lavishly the money she had earned during her time in the Legion and her own trust money. The low point came just after her thirtieth birthday when she was arrested on the streets of Pørtland for vagrancy after falling asleep in a doorway. She spent six months in an alcohol rehabilitation centre.
Nova, on the other hand, pursued a life of the mind. Accepted early to Wimahl University, she seemed to have inherited brilliance from both parents. She excelled at her studies and achieved distinction with dual concentrations in Numbers and Human Interaction. She eschewed nepotism at her father's companies and instead insisted on starting on the absolute lowest platform on the corporate stairway: as a fetcher for a middle manager.
But Nova's brilliance and ambition allowed her to rise quickly through the ranks and after just a few years she was appointed to head her own division at ZXY Endeavors.
After her father's untimely death, and her mother's takeover of Sassy Lass she was lured away from ZXY to a more prestigious position at Sassy Lass. While some might think her career trajectory, being employed only at her families two companies, reeks of familial favouritism several people I interviewed said this couldn't be further from the truth.
"When it comes down to it, Nova Kazmarazz is a creature of loyalty. It's one of her defining characteristics," said Bobbi Brown, an executive at SoftLogic told me over the telephone, "She's a superstar. One of the brightest new stars in the financial firmament. I'd place her at the top of her field. I've tried to hire her away several times. So have about half a dozen other people that I know. She could walk across the street and double her salary anywhere. She chooses the family business always not because she doesn't have options. She chooses family loyalty. For those of us who know Victoria and Nova both, it's well... baffling."
Allisaya, the youngest of the three sisters, was raised, until her early teens, primarily by Devorah and Nova. They watched over her and worked to shoulder her from the burdens of the world.
"They treated her a little like the Buddha's parents treated the Buddha," says Solemie Fernslip. "Alli grew up sheltered from a lot of the ugliness in life, in her family. Her early teens, after the older girls went out into the world, were hard for her. James didn't entirely know what to do with her, and I think for a time Alli felt a little unmoored and unconnected. That all changed when she met Brother Zosima of the Disciples."
The True Disciples of Jesus are a small Christian sect that is most popular in the tree-filled, religiously-tolerant Cascadia. "Other Christians absolutely hate them, Catholics especially. It's a distaste that goes back to the time of Jesus, but most especially to the time right after his death. The True Disciples placed so much emphasis on what Jesus said and living your life thoughtfully, deliberately. It takes a lot of work, and most people aren't frankly interested in that," said Thomas Steensen, a religious studies Fellow at Wimahl University. "While they are not complete ascetics, they do a lot of things that go against the grain of conventional behaviour in much of the world: most eschew meat, typically avoid technology. They have an approach to communication they describe as non-violent, which others have called vexing."
The Disciples forsake the hierarchies traditional in many faiths: they have only two designates for members of the faith's "leadership": brother and sister. Allisaya has put herself on a path to become a Sister of the Faith—following in the footsteps of her mentor, Brother Zosima. "It was happenstance that she met him," recalls a friend who asked for anonymity because of the personal nature of the revelation, "Alli was literally walking down the street one day and happened to bump into Brother Zosima. She knocked a cup of tea right out of his hands, spilling hot tea all over him, and she was mortified, but his kindly reaction to her was an inspiration to her. She's always loved her sisters and her father and even her mother, but none of them have ever really felt to her like kindred spirits, I think. It's different with Brother Zosima. He inspires her in a deep, spiritual way."
What the future holds for Devorah, Nova and Allisaya is a topic of speculation in the tabloid pages and the kitchen tables of Cascadia and beyond.
"We'll be in business as long as they are around, that's for sure," says Able Laksmi, "As long as they just keep doing what they do, I don't have to worry about putting food on the table. They always keep it interesting."
A family friend puts it more somberly: "It will come to violence, that family. There is so much pent-up hate and distrust and animosity. Even the world's greatest peacemakers would find it an intractable situation. With Victoria's talk of adopting her god-daughter Evalina, well, that is something that would throw kerosene on the fire and light the whole place up. I pray that doesn't happen, but it may be inevitable."
The rest of us will just have to wait with bated breath and see what happens.