July 1997
s m u g
net worth
by Leslie Harpold

The Teflon Don

When the fates are kind enough to throw me a little free time and I have time to just poke around on the web I have found that my taste in web sites varies almost seasonally. For awhile I wanted to only look at wizzy cutting edge sites with lots of shiny technology and perfectly sliced, diced and debabelized graphics. Then, after seeing too much of a good thing, it was home pages of people who were from remote areas - things like biker pages and NASCAR sites dedicated to Dick Trickle and various and sundry other rednecks. Then it was art gallery sites, then bad poetry and now I'm in fan page mode. Not just any fan pages will do, I need to see obsessed fan pages.


No one has ever accused me of being a linear thinker either. I was out shopping for a new pan, a regular old frying pan and I was trying to decide if I should go Teflon® or cast iron, and that lead me to thinking about John Gotti. In case you missed the news over the last 20 years, he's the "Teflon Don." The alleged Mob boss that with the aid of his pit bull of a lawyer Bruce Cutler was able to avoid any convictions until the trial where Sammy "the Bull" Gravano turned state's evidence and ratted out the Cosa Nostra in return for a slot in the witness relocation program.

Now that we're all on the same page, as I was standing there in a housewares mega store, looking at Teflon® pans, I began to hear the voice of John Gotti in my head "I'm still here!" Since the inception of SMUG I have become increasingly geeky, and decided I would like that to be a .wav file. So, I started the search when I got home.

It was love at first site. I found the ultimate homage to a man behind bars, at Ravenna's Gotti.com: "A Kinder, Gentler Gotti." I read every page.


Now I can swear in Italian, I've seen Bruce Cutler, and his hairy bohunk of a brother Rich in Speedos and I am completely up to date on RICO laws. I know that John Gotti is buff and although in lockdown 23 hours a day, he remains in good spirits. I have a really good recipe for spicy marinara sauce, and I know what I can and can't send if I ever decide to send fan mail to the Tutta di Capo, and I know not to ever call him that in my letters to him.


Ravenna, the site owner, was one of the most compelling features. She aspires to be a Vegas mamma and seems to be practicing dressing the part. Although she lives somewhere in California, it seems she could be dropped right into Howard Beach and pass without incident as a native. Maybe she learned all those tricks on her two Manhattan vacations, one with the Cutlers as a traveling companion. I can only guess that she's dating him, since they stayed in the hotel together, and she kind of quietly raves about what a great guy he is, noting that her marital status is "involved" on her bio page. Now, she's no dummy. In the midst of striking her guidette mobster girl wannabe pose, she lets through a little intelligence now and then. She wisely keeps her real name, her line of work and her geographic data totally out of the picture, although the photos of her seem authentic. I believe that she's a real person, the pix are too diverse and over too much time to be someone else, but I do wonder if she's shilling for anyone (like the Cutlers) or just one of those gangster groupie girls that line up outside courthouses when mobsters get tried.


The primary theme is her appeal to the universe to have John Gotti set free, loading us up with information and news articles about crooked Feds, the evils of Sammy the Bull and her mushy admiration of a man behind bars.

But after reading through the whole site, I like her and I like Gotti. The biggest stitch is when she dresses him up in various holiday outfits on the "It's a Gotti Holiday" page, a page I am certain will have to come down if Mr. Gotti is ever released lest she incur any ill will from the man among men.


So there you have it, the ultimate obsessed fan, or what happens to teenage girls who write swoony letters to death row inmates when they grow up and look for a more sophisticated passion. I'd be lying if I said I didn't read every page with rapt interest, and that I don't know a lot more than I did before about the minutiae of John Gotti's life. How this will change my everyday existence I'm not sure yet, but I am just waiting for the chance to tell someone to "vaffanculo." Swearing in Italian seems so much more passionate than in English.

I never got my "I'm still here" .wav file that I was looking for, but if I was so inclined, I could have downloaded Mr. Gotti saying any number of other "colorful" phrases. All because I was trying to buy a frying pan. Who says the Internet hasn't changed our lives yet?



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