Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mob Wives: Joy Behar Interviews Her "Paesans"

Joy Behar, an opinionated and outspoken Italian American woman, invited the four mob wives to be guests on her show Thursday, April 21st. They had a lively discussion and the thing that struck me most was the lack of any and all profanities used. Not one single F-Bomb. I barely recognized the women at all, if it were not for their grating voices.

Joy starts with Karen Gravano and gets right to the point of asking what her father’s claim to fame is in the mob. Karen nonchalantly answers that it’s either being an underboss for the Gambino crime family or his cooperation with Federal authorities by turning state’s evidence against John Gotti. Joy says, “Some people call that a ‘snitch’ how do you feel about that?” Karen justifies her father’s actions because John Gotti “betrayed” him and “double-crossed” him. Joy adds, that many people are not happy with Sammy Gravano so “are you afraid of getting whacked?” Karen answers she is not afraid, she refuses to live in fear. At first she says her family was angry with her father for cooperating, and didn’t go into witness protection with him. But later on, her father explained to her why he felt he had to “rat” after hearing the tapes the Feds had where Gotti was trying to throw him under the bus.

Joy moves on to Renee Graziano, the second “big name” in the group and archrival of Karen. Renee is careful to say that “According to the government” she is the daughter of “high-ranking mobster” Anthony Graziano. Which leads us to her sister, Jenn, who is creator of the show, and described as “brilliant” for putting these four women together. Renee admits to being the “sensitive” one who cries at the drop of a hat. Funny, but I don’t recall seeing that side of her. Now we get to the question of the day from Joy: “But, isn’t your father upset or perturbed, that you guys are on this show?” Implying, of course, that the women may divulge mob secrets such as “where all the bodies are buried.” Karen volunteers that her father wrote a tell-all-book so he has no secrets to hide. Renee is not talking, as far as she knows, her father hasn’t killed anyone, yet Joy seems to think, it’s part of Mafia initiation, based on all the mob movies she has seen.

On to Carla, whose father was in the mob, but she married a stockbroker. Interestingly, Carla immediately claims her father was not in the mob! So, Joy wants to know how is it she is affiliated with the mob. She says, “They say my uncle was involved.” And finally we get somewhere, if she is telling the truth, that her uncle is Bruno (Facciolo). Moving on to Carla’s husband, who was just released from prison for stock fraud, which Carla now considers a crime. She says they are in the process of getting divorced and are no longer together anyway. I get the impression Carla is not very comfortable discussing anything Mob related and I notice her husband‘s name is not even mentioned. Later in the interview Joy goes back to question her affiliation again and comes away with the same answer from Carla…the uncle Bruno connection.

Joy addresses Drita: “You are not even Italian…you are Albanian.” And, in the way of background information adds, that Lee D’avanzo has been in prison 10 out of the 12 years they have been married. Lee is still in prison with no release date as yet. Drita admits that life has been difficult and has no idea what she will do about her marriage, if and when, her husband is released.

After the commercial break Joy is asking about the fact that Karen was with Lee before he married Drita. “What happened there?” Karen seems to downplay her relationship of seven years and living with Lee by saying, “I used to date Lee for a while and then I moved to Arizona…then she started dating him…and they got married.” It is implied that there will be an episode where these two women finally have it out about Lee.

Jump to Jersey Shore…that show bores Joy, whereas she likes Mob Wives. Drita volunteers that the difference between the two shows is that “they” have responsibilities and have lived hard lives, while the kids on the Jersey Shore just party wild all the time. Joy, as an Italian American, is quite offended by Jersey Shore, but not Mob Wives. Her reasoning is this: she feels that people know the mob is a subculture of Italian Americans, and all Italians do not belong to the mob. But, Jersey Shore is a different matter, because they are portraying all Italians as “gafoons” (fools, idiots) like they are. Somewhat of a compliment to her four paesans, who she doesn’t find offensive at all.

Joy asks Renee about her ex-husband, Hector Pagan, who isn’t Italian…what’s up with that? Renee tells the story of how Hector was coming to pick her up and her father asks her what’s his name. Renee answers, when he gets here he will tell you. They go back and forth a couple of times until Hector arrives. Graziano asks him his name and he replies Hector Pagan Jr. Graziano answers, according to Renee, your name is Junior, forget all that other stuff, you’re Junior. And, for 23 years, he has been going by Junior.

Joy poses a poignant question: “What do you think is the biggest misconception about the mob and the mafia?” They answer that the biggest misconception is that people look at mobsters as bad men when actually they are good husbands and fathers…family men.

Yes indeed, they are “family men” in more ways than one!

Video Clip of show:

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