THE GANGSTER’S COUSIN is a wonderfully different take on the usual Mafia story.. From his humble beginnings in New York and across four continents, Sal’s memoir takes the reader on a sometimes exciting, sometimes poignant, and often humorous adventure as he finds himself in unbelievable situations and meeting an array of unique and funny characters along the way. Follow Sal’s unique perspective and find out why he strives so hard to stay ahead of a different type of criminal class–the the people who make the rules.
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Most people equate the name Luciano with Lucky Luciano and the Mafia family. How do you dispel people’s preconceived notions about you and your family?
The truth is I cannot dispel their preconceived ideas, so I don’t try. Besides I can’t remember a time when I was confronted directly about my family connections.
You grew up in Harlem, “the other Little Italy.” What was growing up in that neighborhood like back then? And how is Harlem different today?
East Harlem in the 4o’s 50’s and early 60’s was made up of small close neighbourhoods, not very different from small villages. Residence rarely ventured out of the block where they lived. Today all that is gone, I mean literally. The buildings have been torn down. The last time I was there my building was gone, just an empty lot.
Lucky Luciano got his start in the clothing industry by dropping out of school to deliver hats. You got your start selling knock-off Chanel No. 5 perfume. It seems the fashion industry is a common thread in your family history. Have you ever considered the similar nature of your early beginnings with that of your cousin Lucky Luciano?
I don’t see a relationship between Charlie’s start and mine as it pertains to the clothing industry. But there is a very clear relationship between Charlie’s booze business and my pot business.
There’s a definite companionship and love in the writing of your story, SAL. The reader gets a real sense of closeness and security between the people in your story. Do you think in today’s world, we’ve lost that sense of intimacy with friends and family? And if so, why?
There was closeness between friends back then. Don’t forget, we were all Italian and in the same boat. No one was going to Harvard or Columbia. No one came from rich families and almost no one graduated high school. It was a blue-collar community
In your book, SAL everyone seemed to have each other’s back. Do you still have friends from these days in Harlem?
We did have each others back because we inherently understood if we didn’t anyone else would.