Divorce Courting: Adventures at the First Ever “Start Over Smart” Divorce Expo

The first woman The Transom met at the divorce expo was an attractive dental hygienist from Staten Island who once walked in on her then-husband as he was engaged in a ménage à trois with her two best friends.

“Most girls would have really been devastated,” said Lisa Slayback, a bubbly 33-year-old with flowing blond hair and a perky smile. “I just went out and slept with somebody he worked with.”

Sally Hershberger sprays a divorcee (photo credit: Ken Goodman)

Ms. Slayback was attending “Start Over Smart: A Modern Divorce Expo” at the Metropolitan Pavilion, the first of its kind in New York City, which aimed to offer those fresh off a divorce useful advice on how to gather their wits, their finances and their sex appeal. She had read about the expo in the Staten Island Advance and paid $75 for a ticket on Saturday.

Then she met Sally Hershberger, the Hollywood hair stylist who was offering $800 haircuts for free at one of the expo’s several booths, and with a sassy new ’do, she was feeling chipper.

“What’s really nice here is nobody’s pushing you to buy anything. It’s all really about you,” she said.

The expo was the idea of Nicole Baras Feur, a 42-year-old divorce mediator who went through her own bitter divorce with her husband a year ago. The two had dated since they were 16 (she was at Dalton, he was at Riverdale), got married at age 24, and then went splitsville in 2011.

“If I had an expo like this when I was going through it, I think I would have felt much better,” said Ms. Baras Feur, whose mother, Francine Baras, cofounded the expo.

She first had the idea for “Start Over Smart” after attending a similar event in Paris two years ago.“People are more ready than ever to talk about their divorce,” added Ms. Baras Feur.

The attendees were predominantly women in their 40s who had been married in their 20s, and were now single parents.
They walked around the expo carrying complimentary orange tote bags as they visited a string of exhibition booths. There, they talked about virtually all aspects of a divorce, from investment planning to “Body Cosmetica” and sex therapy, while sometimes helping themselves to complimentary packets of Gobstoppers or Medjool dates in each booth’s goodie bowl.

Divorce Courting: Adventures at the First Ever “Start Over Smart” Divorce Expo