Monday, July 30, 2007

Mob Candy

Friends of ours: John Gotti, Carlo Gambino
Friends of mine: Soprano Crime Family

Tony Avella, a City Council member and founder of the Council’s Italian-American caucus, was home in Whitestone, Queens, watching the local news when a segment about a new magazine caught his attention. Inaugural Issue of Mob CandyThe magazine was called Mob Candy, its publisher, Frank DiMatteo, told the camera in what he calls broken Brooklynese, and its focus was the gangster lifestyle.

“Everyone likes to read about Mafia stuff; that’s why ‘The Sopranos’ did so well,” said Mr. DiMatteo, a balding man with forearms that display Popeye-like tattoos of a Marine Corps bulldog and the names of his three children.

Mr. Avella, whose father’s family came from the Naples area, was incensed by what he saw as pejorative stereotyping of Italian-Americans. In the past, he has spoken out against “Shark Tale,” the animated film in which criminal sea creatures speak with Italian-American accents, and attacked PBS for naming a series “The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance.”

On July 20, Mr. Avella took to the steps of City Hall to protest Mob Candy, accompanied by representatives of several Italian-American groups. He held a copy of the cover of the magazine’s premiere issue, which depicts a scantily clad, Glock-toting moll. “The magazine glorifies criminality,” he said. “It’s offensive to Italian-Americans and it degrades women.”

The other day, sitting at the bar of a Court Street pizzeria in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, just blocks from where he was born, Mr. DiMatteo pondered Mr. Avella’s position.

“Am I glorifying crime?” asked Mr. DiMatteo, 51, whose grandparents, like Mr. Avella’s, come from southern Italy. “Maybe I am, but I’ve had a lot of great teachers: The Post, The News, The Times, the History Channel, Hollywood.”

Mr. DiMatteo, who previously distributed the pornographic magazine Screw, said his new magazine offers “an entertaining history lesson.” And he added, “I ain’t making nothing up here.”

The 92-page first issue, which costs $4.99 and should be on newsstands by Thursday, offers an article about the legacy of Carlo Gambino and a history of a half-century of what the magazine describes as Mafia rats. There is also a pull-out poster. On one side is a collage of photographs of John Gotti; on the other, an image of the cover model, wearing a lace-up bustier and garter belt, toying suggestively with a grape Blow Pop. “That’s the candy side,” explained Tyrone Christopher, 39, the magazine’s co-founder.

Despite the publication’s glossy appearance, all the articles in the first issue were written by its two creators, and there are no advertisements. In the opinion of Mr. DiMatteo, the attention Mr. Avella called to his magazine may change that situation. “Ultimately,” he said, “it helps.”

Thanks to Emily Brady

No comments:

Post a Comment