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They Call Me Varmit

http://books-old-and-new.blogspot.com/2011/03/sinatra-gotti-and-me-rise-and-fall-of.html

 

Sinatra, Gotti, and Me: The Rise and Fall of Jilly’s Nightclub

 

Sinatra, Gotti, and Me: The Rise and Fall of Jilly’s Nightclub was written by Tony Delvecchio and Rich Herschlag, with a foreword by Pat Cooper.

Jilly’s was one of the most popular, famous, as well as notorious nightclubs in New York City during the 1960s, and then again in the late 1970s when it was revived by Tony Delvecchio and Tony Fusco, and hosted by its namesake, Jilly Rizzo, the best friend of Frank Sinatra. The renovated Jilly’s once again became the hotspot for A-List celebrities, gangsters, regulars, and wannabes. From John Gotti to Sinatra himself, Jilly’s was the place to be – and proprietor Tony Delvecchio ran it day and night with the able service of the fabulous Jilly Girls, plus a few bartenders provided by Mr. Gotti, before his days as the “Teflon Don.” Sinatra, Gotti and Me is a lost piece of American pop culture, a missing first-hand glimpse into the lives of the Rat Pack and a long illustrious list of American entertainment, political, sports, and organized crime icons. This is Tony Delvecchio’s eye-witness story, unflinchingly told in his own words to author Rich Herschlag.”

This is an incredible account of the infamous Jilly’s Nightclub and Tony Delvecchio’s involvement, as told to author Rich Herschlag. It recounts events and the patrons who visited the nightclub during it’s second opening in the 1970’s, as well as the behind-the-scenes of running such an enterprise.
 

This book is incredibly testosterone-filled, so much so that I’m surprised it doesn’t drip down from the pages onto the floor. Delvecchio was a bit of a tough guy, and this book features story after story of him having to “set someone straight” or “crack someones skull”, and he really came off as a jerk. His story would have been easier to digest had he shown a more likable character throughout the pages instead of the constant flexing of his muscles. It was in him; we see evidence of that in the pages he is talking about Cat or showing his reverence to Frank Sinatra or Jilly Rizzo. But, it’s forcefully pushed down and choked out by the tough guy persona.
 

Nonetheless, the stories he has to tell are very engaging and entertaining, especially the ones featuring Frank Sinatra, John Gotti, and Joe Pesci. They are all accounts that I’ve never read elsewhere, so they were as refreshing as they were entertaining. My particular favorite anecdote is the one he shares about the time Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra walked away from a benefit concert because of Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s alleged antics. It was shocking and gives the reader a behind the scenes glance at what the people at the forefront do behind closed doors. It’s not always pretty.
 
Jilly’s is a historic name, and this is the story of the hardworking man who helped bring it back to it’s glory. Delvecchio and Herschlag have written a wonderful book, one that anyone with an interest in the subject matter would devour and then come back to for seconds. I know I will.
 
4 stars
 
Buy Sinatra, Gotti, and Me  here at Amazon.

TheyCallMeVarmit

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