Get Cultured — March 10, 2015 at 11:21 am

Keeping it Real with the Mob Wives


The 'Mob Wives' at Barnes & Noble

Forget The Real Housewives, VH1’s Mob Wives has grabbed international attention and as the explosive season 5 ends people cannot get enough of Staten Island’s finest residents. Revolving around Renee Graziano, Karen Gravano, Drita D’Avanzo and Angela ‘Big Ang’ Raiola, this season welcomed two outsiders from Philadelphia, Natalie DiDonato and Natalie Guercio that stirred up some drama for the Staten Island ladies.

Even though the season is ending, the Mob Wives have become a success in other areas, including books. At a recent book signing at Barnes and Noble in Tribeca, Graziano, Gravano and Big Ang dished on their books and the recent season.

The 'Mob Wives' at Barnes & Noble Tribeca

“I think it was a way for me to express myself without me being my father’s daughter and just go all out and say what I want and do what I want in the book,” Graziano said about her spicy romance novel, Playing with Fire. She explained that even though it is fiction some of it reflects real life, like some of the sex. “Have I ever been at a shoot out?” she said. “We’ve been walking out of nightclubs and it happens, but under those circumstances in the book, no.”

Working with her sisters, Graziano recently published a cookbook titled How to Use a Meat Clever, which shows how to make some of their delicious dishes from their Sunday sauce to sausage and peppers to stuffed filet mignon. “The cook book was with my family and my sisters,” she said. “Really my older sister Lana is the cook, then my sister Jen and I, although I was just on Chopped.”

Karen Gravano, author of the New York Times Bestseller Mob Daughter, gives an extremely personal look into her life, from the mafia to being Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s daughter and the struggles she faced. Even though her past has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, she would not change a thing. “I think my past has made me what I am and I am not proud of everything in my past but it made me learn,” Gravano said. “I don’t want to change anything, but I am glad to take certain things and experiences and learn from them.”

The 'Mob Wives' at Barnes & Noble Tribeca

The larger than life Big Ang published an advice book, Bigger is Better: Real Life Wisdom from the No-Drama Mama, which shows the must have’s and must do’s for women. “Whatever you do to look good is worth the time and money,” she writes. “I’m not saying everyone should have super long nails or get eyelash extensions. But I do believe pampering yourself a few times a month forces you to relax, slow down, and make a necessary mental adjustment.” Most of the advice is focused for women, but Big Ang gave some advice for men while at Barnes and Noble. Keeping up the big theme, she likes “big arms, and big chest. I like muscled guys.”

While the books were the spotlights of the night, the recent season of Mob Wives was on everyone’s mind. While the original cast also has some sort of drama, this season was all about the explosive fighting of the Natalies.

“There was supposed to be a Philly Mob Wives and then it fell short when there were some troubles,” Graziano said. “That’s how those girls even ended up in our company otherwise they would have never been in our company what so ever, but then again it was a job so you had to do it.” Attempting to stay away from Guercio, Graziano explained that she would bring her down and make insensitive comments.

“I think the girls have a problem within each other, what was happening in our circle Nat D was trying to prove to the girls that Nat G was no good,” she said. Eventually everyone realized that Guercio was the problem, but prior to the finale they all had different opinions about her.

“I think for the core women [Graziano, Big Ang, D’Avanzo and Gravano,] we know how to push the envelope and then stop,” Gravano said. “For these girls, they just keep going and going, but we have a history so we are not trying to hurt each other. They are just trying to be famous.”

For anyone that watched at least a clip of the season, one thing stands out, the strange names they call each other. “We use the normal curse words, the Natalies say crazy words,” Graziano said. “I know I am good for the minute long rant, but they are normal words.” There are some phrases that still puzzle the ladies, “they say words I never heard of before,” Big Ang said.

Wednesday starts the two part reunion episode that is a must see. “It’s going to be exciting to see,” Big Ang said. People should be expecting revealing outfits and someone unexpected breaks down in tears.

There is more to Graziano, Big Ang and Gravano then what people see on the series. “So much of what we do is about family, and that is the reason why I got involved in the show,” Gravano said. “It shows the struggle women go through to maintain their family, but everyone wants to see us fighting.” This season brought a lot family occasions together, like Baptisms, graduations and family events, but the drama of the Natalies overpowered the season.

Graziano started her own business, MobCandy, which recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, and sells jewelry and clothing. “I am revamping my site and changing a few things,” she said. In the coming year she is hoping to get some of the items in retail stores. Viewers learned about Gravano’s new plan in Arizona this season about opening a medical marijuana business. “I am in the process, it is just such a long process and there is a lot of red tape especially with my last name,” Gravano said. “Marijuana is not legalized by the federal government but in each individual state it is, so I have to make sure I dot all my I’s and cross all my T’, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Big Ang remains busy with her Staten Island bar The Drunken Monkey, and people love to go there and take a shot with her. “I’ve been in the business since I was 17 and bartended,” she said. “I figured let me have my own bar, why keep making everyone else money.”

Watching the series, people will notice a one constant theme, respect. Even though the Staten Island ladies will fight with each other, there is always a form of loyalty and regard. “For us it was in our household, we ate respect and loyalty for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Renee said. “That was it and that is what had every day of your life.”

*All images via

TwistedTalk: Are you a fan of the Mob Wives? What do you think of their books? Discuss below!



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