In "Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano, and Me!" Karen Gravano reveals what it was like growing up with her father, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, who was John Gotti's right-hand man before he stunningly turned into a state witness against the mob boss.
Gravano also stars in the hit VH1 show "Mob Wives," and while some may argue that the show glamorizes the gangster lifestyle, the reality star-turned-author sums it up well: "When you choose this life, all that glitters isn't gold." It's a fact Gravano knows all too well, considering that she's no longer on speaking terms with her dad, due to her involvement with the show.
Gravano spoke to The Huffington Post about her memoir, those epic catfights and what her dad really thinks of "Mob Wives."
Why did you decide to write this book?
I just felt like my life came completely full circle and I realized why everything happened. I realized who we are as a family. I realized who my father was. I understand why he got into the lifestyle he did. For a long time, I didn't understand why he cooperated [with the authorities].
You write that you were furious that your dad cooperated with the police.
All my life I was taught that it was something you never do. I was thinking, "That's something you taught me all my life not to do. Why are you doing it?" When we grew up, in our circles, that was the worst thing you could do. It wasn't like I had friends who had normal fathers. All my friends' fathers were gangsters. Everyone I was around was into that life. When he did it, I knew people would turn their backs on us. I didn't know [it would be] to the extent that they did. I felt like my whole life was over.
Why do you think he cooperated?
Because he felt that he was double-crossed. He heard the Gotti tapes and once he listened to those tapes he realized that John double-crossed him. His first initial thoughts were, "I'm going to fight my case and when I get out I'm going to kill him." You know that’s how it's done in that lifestyle. But then he felt disgusted by the whole lifestyle, so he decided to turn his back and walk away.
Do you think "Mob Wives" glamorizes the gangster lifestyle?
The show was pitched to me to show what the women go through, the struggle. All of us are single moms because our partners are in prison.
The show also focuses on a lot of bickering between the cast members.
That's why my book is so important to me. Again, when you're on a show and there’s four women, you're kind of caught up in the situation. I'm definitely not saying it's other people's fault because I definitely contribute to a lot of the drama. I felt like I came home and got sucked into it.
I'm sick of the bickering, it's not who I am. For me, I can be that person, but I feel like my story is so much bigger than that and I feel like out of all the women on the show, my father, Sammy the Bull, he's the biggest name.
The show isn't scripted by any means, but you realize there are cameras and you kind of get caught up in the moment. It's all very new to me to talk about the lifestyle, admitting it. We never said the word "mob" growing up.
Does your dad like the show?
He definitely didn't like the name, but after he started watching it, he realized it's about the women, so he was okay with it. But now he's like, "I hate the fighting, I hate the arguing, the cursing," so I've also had to deal with that. My father is totally disgusted and hasn't spoken to me over the show. Hopefully I can make up for it.
So, he's not talking to you now?
He's angry, [but] it's not like we're never going to talk again. He's really pissed off about the show. So he doesn’t want to talk to me right now. He's just mad. He doesn't like watching the show. He doesn't like the arguing, the cursing.
Don't you want to say, "Who are you to give me etiquette lessons?"
No, even though he did that, he always wanted better for me. It's not like he's not talking to me because he doesn't want anything ever to do with me. He feels like I'm bigger than that. It's not that he’s saying it because he's judging me; he's saying it because he cares about me. It's two different things.