These Manhattan criminal lawyers specialize in legal maneuvers by day, but they blow off steam by taking on reality-show competitors, mastering exotic dance moves — and making stuff disappear.
Hard-charging public defender Eliza Orlins competed on two seasons of the longtime CBS reality show “Survivor.”
Antonia Messina exchanges her conservative courthouse suits for the exuberant garb of a traditional flamenco dancer after hours.
And litigator Liam Malanaphy, 49, dazzles and amazes as a magician on weekends.
Liam MalanaphyPhoto: Steven Hirsch
“So much of what we do in court is performance,” said Malanaphy, who recently defended a pimp accused of beating up hookers while calling himself the “Black Hitler.”
Malanaphy, who has a private criminal practice, spends his weekends wearing a top hat, doing card tricks and pulling rabbits from hats for children’s birthday parties and events.
“The two most discerning audiences anyone can ever have are a sophisticated Manhattan jury and a bunch of 5-year-olds,” the Kensington, Brooklyn, lawyer said.
Eliza Orlins on “Survivor: Micronesia Fans vs. Favorites”Photo: CBS
Meanwhile, Orlins, 33, took a break from law school in 2007 to film “Survivor: Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites” in Koror, Palau.
It was the second time the sexy brunette competed on the series. She also made it to the final four in 2004 on “Survivor: Vanuatu.”
The show “taught me how to deal with people who are sometimes very difficult and even some of whom I don’t like,” Orlins said. “That experience translates to this job because on a daily basis, I’m confronted with difficult people I may not like, but we still have to work together.”
The reality-show graduate said she occasionally gets recognized at the Manhattan Criminal Court building, sometimes even by a starstruck defendant.
One turnstile jumper couldn’t stop staring, she said.
Messina, a private criminal lawyer for more than two decades, said she fell in love with flamenco while living in Italy years ago.
Then, while attending Northeastern School of Law, she joined a flamenco dance company, twirling and clicking her heels on stage with a flower pinned to her hair.
Antonia Messina in her flamenco costume.Photo: The Star Ledger
“I needed a counterpoint to the extreme stress of this job,” she said. “The horror of people going to jail for long periods, especially as a woman, you can’t show any emotion, you can’t cry in court . . . all that gutsy stuff like anger and pride can be expressed in dancing.
“When you’re on trial, it’s all about listening to the witness, cross-examining him in the moment and responding to how he’s responding to you,” said Messina, who represented terrorist Abdul Kadir for plotting to blow up JFK Airport.
”It’s like a dance in its way,” she said.
She said she doesn’t advertise her second job to clients, but a few have figured out her hobby.
“I’ve had clients who’ve looked me up online and see that I do flamenco and say, ‘I actually want to hire you because it shows you have passion,’ ” she said.