Normally we're bored to tears by memoirs -- there's too much crap about crummy childhoods, broken hearts, and tiresome smack addictions. Thankfully, Kenny Gallo's "Breakshot
" is a bit different. This self-proclaimed "Japanese-American playboy" started slinging cocaine in his mid-teens -- that's him above with a few Uzis and Paulina Porizkova in his childhood bedroom. Gallo then went on to open a nightclub, produce porn films and rub shoulders with real life goodfellas.
He later followed the third act of "Goodfellas
" to a tee by becoming an FBI informant and, unlike most, he doesn't apologize for being a rat. His believe-it-or-not autobiographical account is chock full of car bombings, crooked cops and quasi-brain-dead wiseguys.
We got Gallo to give us a personalized guide on how to live the life of a modern-day gangster
-- all the way from adolescent thug to Mafia turncoat and escapee of "the most exclusive men's club in the world." (Disclaimer: Asylum takes no responsibility if you get whacked while pursuing The Life.)
Married to the Mob
Looking to get tapped by the mob? Let them come to you. "Be a tough guy, not a brute, like a legbreaker -- there's too many of those guys around," Gallo advises. "You just gotta be smart and show people you can make money. They'll find you. If you're in the quasi-legal world, they'll find you. If you're a gambler, a poker player, a bookie -- if you make your living at the race tracks. You can't go out and search for them. They'll take you for a mark, they'll rip you off, abuse you, or they'll think you're a cop." A Made Man's Fashion Sense
Kenny Gallo is half-Japanese, without any Italian background -- not exactly the type of person the Feds are profiling. It helps not to look the part of a stereotypical mafioso. "No flash -- all that stuff's for TV. If you wanna look like a thug, then you're not a thug. We're not wearing pinkie rings, all that flashy jewelry." Gallo's descriptions of actual wiseguys in "Breakshot
" make them sound like mild-mannered suburban dads, the sort of dudes who appreciate a comfortable polo shirt and a nice backyard barbecue. It might not be as dramatic, but it'll keep you away from 25-to-life. Mob Money Ain't Easy Money
Lest you think gangsters do nothing but swim in champagne and snort cocaine off the backsides of A-list call girls: "It's a job. It's a 24-hour-a-day thing. You never get vacation time, you never get to call in sick. You have to hustle for money, you have to show up. You can't lie around getting drunk and doing nothing. There [are] guys who do that, and then they have
nothing." Kenny, Kenny ... you're crushing our dreams here. Pride Before the Fall
Wannabe criminals tend to make a few common mistakes after early success. "They get too greedy. Me, I always spread the money around. Those people are going to bring you other deals. You're not going to get rich off one deal, you're going to get rich off a quantity of deals, a whole inch of different things." Overinflated egos are also to be avoided -- they're bad for business. "You get too big for your own britches. You get such a big head, you think you're all that. There's always someone tougher, there's always someone smarter and bigger." You Talkin' to Me?
"Breakshot" is full of stories of retribution, some of which involve high-speed motorcycles and assault weapons. But these days Kenny Gallo seems to realize that shedding blood isn't always the best way to make your point. "The most effective way is to do it nonviolently. Let them imagine what can happen. Once you do something violent you've passed that line, there's nothing else you can do. It's better that you let it unfold, let them ask around about you and see what kind of person you are. You never make a phone call. You go there, show up, smile, just be there, be menacing." I Got 99 Problems But ...
Women and organized crime don't mix. "They come and go," Gallo says. "A woman gets mad at you, they'll do something crazy -- like call the cops." A budding gangster needs to keep his love life separate from his living, or just swear off chicks altogether. "I never brought a woman into my life, ever," Gallo asserts.
It's not unheard of for women to act as criminal informants as well -- the bedroom is a pretty easy place to pry secrets from a loose-lipped lover. "I was always suspect of anyone who wanted to be friends with me," says Gallo, somewhat depressingly. "If they weren't a felon, if they didn't have a record and I didn't know them, I didn't want to associate with them." (That's not to say that Gallo was a celibate monk; "Breakshot"
does detail his demented marriage to porn queen, Tabitha Stevens
.) Porn Again
After dabbling in some completely illegal undertakings, Gallo began cutting his teeth in the porn industry, including directorial turns behind the camera. He doesn't advise junior gangsters to make the same mistake: "It's not glamorous, and it's a dead end. It'll lead nowhere. It's not worth it. It has nothing to do with real movie-making." But what about the 'new wave' of adult actresses, headstrong stars like Sasha Grey? "They're lying to themselves. Let's talk to her four years from now. I was in the business for almost 20 years. There is no happy ending." Year of the Rat
Kenny Gallo's real claim to infamy is acting as an informant against members of the Colombo
family, a Brooklyn-based wiseguy organization. He claims there's no ignominy in being a snitch, though some might disagree with him. "Yeah, I did it," he says. "I'm smart. The smart guy takes the deal. What's the purpose of you going down for everyone else? Only a dummy's gonna go to prison for 20 years. Oh, I'm a standup guy; I'm a tough guy. So what? Your kids grow up, your wife gets divorced from you, they have no food when you're locked up. It's the dumb move. Most of the big guys play both sides of the fence. Lucky Luciano
is a prime example -- dude was an informant, let's be honest." Let's Make a Deal
"I'm using them, they're using me," Gallo explains, describing the relationship between informant and FBI. "You've got to protect your own interests. Get it in writing. Get that cooperating agreement. You wanna get with the U.S. attorney. Make sure you get immunity." Life After Snitching
Most people might assume that anyone who rats on the mob and writes a book about it is harboring a secret death wish. Gallo claims that he feels no fear of retribution, which either means he's fooling himself, or has the hugest pair of brass balls in North America. "I'm on Facebook, that's how much I'm afraid," he brags. "Let's go back a little bit in history -- tell me all the informants who've been killed. None." Kenny, we're crossing our fingers for you. The Post-Mafia Wiseguy
OK, so you've had it all: the sin, the sex, the life of violent and debauched crime. You've flipped and played ball with the feds and now you're safely hidden away somewhere in the Midwest under an assumed name, enjoying all that anonymity. What's a reformed mobster to do with his time? "Criminals do really well in sales," Gallo advises. "If you can hustle up bookmaking, hustle up drugs, you can hustle up selling cars." And hell, you'll already know the answer to that age-old question: How many bodies can you fit in the back of a 2008 Cabriolet?