MAFIA PRINCESS

 

January 20, 2006

Going underground can mean two things when you're in the mob--one involves a shovel and possibly a brief ride in (the trunk of) a Cadillac; the other involves life on the run from the FBI. Neither is a great option.

Joey "the Clown" Lombardo lived the latter. The reputed mob boss pleaded not guilty in Chicago Tuesday to racketeering conspiracy that includes accusations of murder. His capture after months on the lam seems to be the final chapter in one mafia era.

For Georgia Durante, that mafia era still lives, at least in the pages of her mafia-princess memoirs, which I recently read. Not only does she claim to have been friends (and sometimes a lover) with men in the New York outfit, but she also drove the getaway car on occasion. In her book, "The Company She Keeps," she claims to have survived an abusive husband and outwitted a stalker who was ready to shoot her in bed. Then she became a stunt-driver, (stunt-double for Cindy Crawford) and survived a spectacular cliffside crash in a Ferrari. Durante is a survivor. I corresponded with her this week.

Q: Why do you think people are fascinated with the mob?

A: It's a life most people never to come close to. It's hard to imagine seeing these guys in church on Sunday morning and knowing they are capable of killing on Sunday night.

Q: How much of the mob's acceptance of you had to do with your beauty?

A: I became involved with the mob at a young age. I was modeling at the time and was always on TV or in newspaper ads. I'm sure that if I were a wallflower I would not have gotten their attention. Because I grew up around them I was street smart. I would see the mob helping people who couldn't afford food or pay their heat bills. Then I would see the so-called "good guys" doing shady things like taking bribes. I had a very distorted view at a young age of who the good guys were supposed to be.

Q: What if your daughter or son was venturing down your path in life; what would you do?

A: Tie them to a tree for days.

Q: You decided to accept a meeting with a mob acquaintance, Salvatore Reale, who "requested" that you deliver money for him. You did refuse, but I was surprised you accepted the meeting in the first place. What motivated you to keep getting closer to danger instead of just walking away?

A: I'm a lot smarter today, but then I felt I was under their control. With Sal ... well, he had done favors for me. The mob holds you to those favors. You owe them. I went because I had to, but I was determined to stand my ground even if it meant that I wouldn't walk out of there alive.

Q: What do you know now, that you didn't know then?

A: I didn't know then that men were attracted to my sexuality, which I didn't know that I had. I thought they just liked me for me. If I had understood their motivation I would have guarded myself more. Youth really is wasted on the young.