As the daughter of a serial killer, Victoria Gotti has done okay for herself: hack novelist, supermarket tabloid scribbler, and, now, star of the A&E reality TV show "Growing Up Gotti." Personally, we don't think much of the program or Gotti and her three mook sons (we're waiting for "Meet the McVeighs" or "At Home with the Attas"). When it comes to watching the Gottis squabble, we prefer to pop in surveillance videotapes made during a two-day family visit to the Illinois penitentiary John Gotti called home (prison officials recorded all visits to the Gambino family boss). During the January 1998 sitdown, an irritable Gotti meets with his brother Peter, Victoria, and her son John, who was 10 at the time and not yet addicted to hair gel. The prison videotapes are so entertaining that we're divvying them up into a limited-run summer series, with new episodes appearing every Monday morning. "Blowing Up Gotti" is brought to you in conjunction with Ganglandnews.com, your one-stop shop for Mafia news (wiseguy expert Jerry Capeci, the site's proprietor, obtained the Gotti tapes). Look for more riveting visiting room vignettes in "Mob Star," a marvelous Gotti bio by Capeci and co-author Gene Mustain.
EPISODE 1: Grandpa Blows A Gasket
Despite grandpa's suggestion that he pursue a legal career, little John says he'd rather be an athlete. The Dapper Don, however, doesn't want anyone in his family leading the degenerate life of a baseball or basketball player. Bristling, the lil' wiseguy announces that he'll instead opt for a less glamorous career. That sass doesn't sit well with the incarcerated hoodlum, who threatens the kid with bodily harm and tosses him from the visiting room. Raging at the child's bad attitude, Gotti blames his own wife Victoria: "That shit comes from your fucking mother, not from me," he tells his daughter.
EPISODE 2: Parenting, Gotti Style
John Gotti criticizes daughter Victoria's handling of a problem her son encountered at school. Seems that after a classmate slurred Little John--accusing the kid (imagine!) of being a tyro wiseguy--Victoria had a polite conversation with the kid's mother to express her displeasure. Which was the wrong way to handle things, according to the imprisoned killer, who equates such civility to acting like a "rat" or a Jew. Instead, Gotti tells his daughter she should have instilled fear into the young troublemaker's mother by invoking her notorious daddy and threatening to--at least--cut the boy's tongue out. Along the way we are reminded, "Being a nigger is embarrassment, being John Gotti's grandson is an honor."
EPISODE 3: Growing Up Agnello
"We're not animals," Victoria declares, recalling how then-husband Carmine Agnello--who's now serving nine years for racketeering--behaved like one when dealing with a kindergarten matter involving son Frank. The Dapper Don says his daughter and grandsons could avoid the hassles associated with being a Gotti by using Carmine's last name. "You should stay off television. You should stay off the book covers. You should use Victoria Agnello and they won't know who the kids are and they won't be forced with this problem." Yeah, right.
EPISODE 4: Gotti Blood
John Gotti goes off on a wild ramble after Victoria tells daddy she's his "biggest fan." The caged Godfather says his real fans are people like that girl from Idaho who wrote that he is "what America was meant to be." Noting the decline of civilization (kids "imitating all these coons...imitate niggers...your president's a piece of crap"), Gotti explains why his family is a bunch of morons: "I took garbage Gotti blood and contaminated it with DiGiorgio (his wife Victoria's maiden name) blood."
EPISODE 5: I Got Nothin'
In the final installment of Blowing Up Gotti, Victoria gets a scolding for failing to send a Christmas photograph to her incarcerated dad. When the Dapper Daughter tries to blame brother John, Jr. and his wife for bumbling the group picture project, the Gambino crime boss rails at his disrespectful family: "I'm not your father or John's father or these kids's grandfather." Soon, a fidgety Victoria gets up and leaves, and Gotti explains to brother Peter how visitors like his daughter are cramping his lifestyle in the federal pen: "I told you I didn't want you to bring these people no more...I laugh all day. I'm in a good frame of mind 'til I see them...fuck you, fuck you, and fuck them."
BONUS: Gotti's Eggplant Rollatini Recipe