Gambino Genes

What's in a Mafia name?

Gambino's only equal here, it seems, is a white-haired gentleman from Delray Beach by way of Boston — Danny Giurleo. "He's a real wiseguy," Gambino whispers. "I probably shouldn't tell you that."

"Chris is a good boy," Giurleo says, sitting regally at ringside, legs crossed, hands in his lap. "When you've got a name like Gambino, people think a lot of things."

"If you're Italian and you have a family, you're automatically a Mafioso," Lordi leans over and chimes in. "It isn't true. We just keep the ones we love very close."

Jacqueline Carini

"We're never going to tell you where the bodies are!" Giurleo laughs.

Their association is totally innocent, they say. They just get together to help with the fashion line. "Can you imagine us all sitting around the table, gluing crystals onto jeans?" Lordi asks. "We'd be there going, 'Boy, if these were diamonds!' It was like arts and crafts!" That sends them all into a laughing fit. "We either take you out or we take you out to eat." More laughter.

The boxing match is getting ready to start. The lights dim; a crowd has filled the cavernous room. Gambino's crew checks out the ring girls; it's hard not to, since they're sashaying across the ring in high heels, rallying the audience, their butt cheeks hanging out of spandex hot pants.

"Ah, she's too short."

"Gotta be at least five-nine."

"I don't like tattoos."

"How fast can she work a shovel?" Ha ha ha ha! they all laugh.

Giurleo shakes his head, his eyes glued to an offending derriere. "I think that is so demeaning to women," he says, deadpan.

Somehow the talk turns to smart girls.

"Chelsea Clinton?" Lordi says. "Ugh. You'd kidnap her? Now, if we talk about the Bush twins — I could see maybe putting them in the trunk."

While the conversation rolls merrily on, full of double-entendres and tantalizing crime references, Gambino has been getting up and down: greeting people who wave haltingly from $100 ringside seats, joining Gibson to make seemingly important introductions. Now he's working his thumbs furiously as he sends text messages on both his cell phone and Sidekick. Check it out — he holds up the phone. The Barbi twins, Playboy models turned animal rights activists, are texting him. He's working with them to cross-promote their book and has befriended Shane Barbi's husband, Ken Wahl, star of the Mafia-themed TV show Wiseguy.

Gambino also claims to be friends with Jeb Bush and says Pope Benedict blessed his marriage. In recent months, he says, he has been approached by People magazine, Maxim, Vanity Fair ("I didn't even know what it was. They want to put me on the cover"), MTV ("They want me to do a cameo in a reality show"), and As Is ("It's a magazine that's all gangsters — 50 Cent and those guys. I'm going to be the first white guy on the cover.").

All the attention is gratifying, but people ask him stupid questions. "'Did you ever kill anybody?' Come on. 'Do you know John Gotti?' I won't even talk about him."

"I'll tell you one thing," Giurleo offers, taking on a serious, measured tone like Marlon Brando doing Don Vito Corleone. "Our lives are not all they're cracked up to be. People read about the glamour and glitz, but you're either in it for good — or you die."

The boxing gets under way. Gambino's crew hollers and cheers; they're sitting so close, they get sprinkled with sweat from the athletes. After a couple of amateur rounds, Gambino has still not been called up to the ring. But he has to split and get to Miami, where his wife is preparing for a big fashion show tomorrow. Before leaving, he sets up a table near the convention hall entrance and autographs a few books.

It's true — everyone wants to know a Gambino. In just a few minutes, he is approached by a stream of models, one of the aspiring boxers, and even a uniformed cop, all eager to be photographed with Gambino.

"Oh, man," Gambino says after being snapped shaking the officer's hand. "I bet you never thought you'd see that!" His friends can't stop laughing.

Does the cop even realize who he's talking to?

"Yeah, he's a Gambino," the cop says. "He has a book out or something? Aw, come on, he's good now; he's clean. Hey, can you e-mail me that picture?"

In 1997, Gambino self-published a novel called My Only Son. It's the story of a character named Vinny Denucci whose father is Mafia boss Sonny Denucci. As much a coming-of-age novel as it is a thriller, the story follows Vinny from age 13, when he first starts to comprehend that his father is involved in criminal activity, to his mid-20s, when he's a bona fide killer and has taken over the Mafia syndicate. Throughout the book, Vinny struggles to reconcile his own morality with his father's violent expectations.

The book contains a standard disclaimer: "This is a work of fiction... Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, locales, or actual incidents, is entirely coincidental." But a MySpace page for My Only Son says, "He who has traveled could only have created a compelling style story of this genre." And the dedication page of the book reads, "This is dedicated to the memories of the past: however painful, they did serve a purpose."

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