Thursday, February 09, 2012

Is Angela “Big Ang” Raiola America's Newest Sweetheart?

America’s newest sweetheart is a chain-smoking Staten Island diva with a passion for plastic surgery.

She’s Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, Angela 'Big Ang' Raiolathe latest cast member on the VH1 reality show “Mob Wives.”

Raiola debuted on the Jan. 1 second-season premiere when she tried — unsuccessfully — to get feuding “Mob Wives” co-stars Karen Gravano and Drita D’Avanzo to settle their differences. The result may have been a massive, punch-throwing fight that disrupted a lavish party for cast mate Renee Graziano, but it also put Raiola on the fast track to fame.

One fan even got a tattoo of Raiola’s face — with her trademark collagen-enhanced lips — and the image went viral.

“I’m very overwhelmed at how big I became,” Raiola told the Herald. “It’s been crazy, out of control. Everywhere I am, people are stopping me. Or they’re sending fan mail to my bar.”

That’s the Drunken Monkey, for those un-familiar with Staten Island hot spots. “I never thought this would happen,” added Raiola, 52, niece of late mob captain Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi. “But it’s fun. It’s very ex-citing.”

“Big Ang is like the godmother of all of us. She has all the wisdom,” D’Avanzo said in a recent episode.

Raiola explained that the nickname, “Big Ang,” came from growing up in Brooklyn as one of two girls named Ang in the neighborhood.

“My girlfriend, she was very tiny and I was tall, so I became ‘Big Ang’ and she’s ‘Little Ang,’ ” she said.

Raiola said she’s friends with all the cast members, but feels closest to Graziano, saying: “I like every-thing about Renee. I’ve known her since she was a teenager. She’s a good person and has a big heart. She’s very sensitive. I real-ly like her.”

Raspy-voiced Raiola admits to a tummy tuck, liposuction, three breast implant surgeries and wanting a face-lift — and confesses an affinity for dating “wiseguys,” who she says have bought her million-dollar homes and Jaguars in the past.

“Big Ang” is still taking in her newfound fame and has not accepted commercial endorsements — yet — even as VH1 announces a spinoff, “Mob Wives: Chicago,” to debut with a different cast by the end of the year.

“I’m going to take it day to day,” said Raiola. “I’ll see what comes and go with it.”

Thanks to Dan O'Brien

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