It was late on a Sunday afternoon when Anthony Scotti double parked his LTD station wagon outside Cuomo’s restaurant on 53rd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. A waiter rushed to open the front door. Atall, busty blond wearing a black velvet dress, a black lacy camisole top and a black cowboy hat walked in, followed by Mr. Scotti in dark glasses and a leatherjacket. Mr. Scotti wasn’t in the best of moods.
“I am telling you right now that anything I say and do and you print is absolutely going to be copywritten,” he said. “And if anybody ever, ever reports on that, they gotta talk to me about it. You get that point?”
I sort of nodded.
“In other words, this is not to be redone by any other form of news media whatsoever unless it’s got absolute permission from me . Is that fair?”
I had first met Anthony Scotti at Marylou’s, a restaurant on West Ninth Street where we both seemed to hang out on Friday nights. A 57-year-old former recording industry executive, he told me that while his adopted father was Anthony Scotti Sr., a talent manager known as “Mr. Broadway” who once owned several theatrical schools on Broadway, his real father was Charles (Lucky) Luciano, the dapper Genovese crime boss. It was Luciano who, with Meyer Lansky, turned the mob into big business, and who later, while doing 30 to 50 years in prison, was released early for helping track down German U-boats off the U.S. coast. He was deported to Italy, spent time in Cuba with Frank Sinatra’s crowd and died in the Naples airport in 1962.
Mr. Scotti, who lives in Cornwall-on-Hudson, said he has a movie in the works called Blood and Tears , a story of his family that, he said, would put to shame the “fake” HBO series The Sopranos . The blonde on his arm was Lina Lorenz. An actress and a talent manager.
I believed everything Mr. Scotti said. Sure, sometimes I had the feeling he might be exaggerating a little. But he was charming, conversant in many subjects. Anyway, where else did I have to go?
Drinks arrived. ” Salut ,” said Ms. Lorenz.
“Secondly,” said Mr. Scotti, “being that Mayor Giuliani did not call me back on request, I would like to apologize for him, for his ignorance in history.” He explained that after Lucky Luciano made Time magazine’s “Business Geniuses of the Century” issue in 1998, the Mayor had scoffed at the inclusion of a “notorious gangster.”
“That’s a lie,” Mr. Scotti said. “If it wasn’t for my father, the United States of America would not be here now. So if Mr. Giuliani enjoys sitting in City Hall, he should get his history correct and apologize to me personally and everyone else for his ignorance! And if he wants to represent the gay community, he doesn’t have to do it wearing a dress, if he’s a man.”
Ms. Lorenz nodded.
I asked the waiter for a whisky.
Mr. Scotti whispered in my ear. “And the word ‘mob’ is a lie. You know who the first mob was? Who was the mob? Jesus Christ and his followers were called the mob.” He gave Ms. Lorenz a smile.
“Italy is taking back our country, and we’re gonna run it the way we run Italy, the right way, with dignity,” said Mr. Scotti. “It’s ours. We built it. They talk about Christopher Columbus; his name was not Christopher Columbus, it was Christopher Columbo. He got fucked from a Spanish queen, lost his head from that broad. Because she was fucking him and her husband at the same time, she was no good. Think about what I just said. Excuse me, I do not curse, and that’s God’s honest truth. Every word I speak is in the Bible. I use the English translation for fornicate and the word is ‘fuck.’ Does that bother you? It meant ‘for carnal knowledge’ and that’s what it means, it is not a curse word. I never take the Lord’s name in vain, ever.”
I asked Mr. Scotti about Blood and Tears . He said he hoped to place it with Showtime, the cable network, and that he wanted $1 million more than HBO was paying for “that lie,” The Sopranos. “It’s called wake-up time,” Mr. Scotti said, summing up his saga.
“There will be more respect for Italians,” added Ms. Lorenz, who would star in the movie.
Mr. Scotti’s other big project is to bring back something called the Artist’s Guild of America Foundation, which Anthony Scotti Sr. started in the 1920’s. He wants performers and artists to pay $300, in return for which the guild will “nurture them, help them connect in the business. The first fund-raiser will be in the Garden in 2001. Everybody you ever heard of in the industry is going to be in that show. All the networks.”
(When I asked radio host Joe Franklin, who knows Mr. Scotti, about him, he said, “His intentions are very, very honorable. He happens to be a nice man.… It’s a murderous game, show business is a murderous game, but his intentions are so pure. I’ve sent him people through the years that needed wisdom, guidance. He never took a nickel from them.”)
A man in a suit and ponytail sat down. Mr. Scotti introduced him as John the Baptist. He seemed to be Mr. Scotti’s bodyguard.
“We met through Jesus Christ,” Mr. Scotti said. “That’s how we met.”
I said I was a bit nervous.
“You have never been in safer hands in the world,” Mr. Scotti said.
John the Baptist told me he was a spiritual guy. “I get revelations like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “If you had an illness in you or something, all I gotta do is lay it on you real thick and give you my heart.”
I said I’d been a bit worried about some chest pains, was thinking about getting some tests.
He said he could “take it out of here” and grabbed my right hand tightly. After he released his grip, I felt better.
“It’s all love,” John the Baptist said. “And if you interfere with the love that I’m providing for somebody else, that’s the worst thing you could do to yourself. Follow me? It’s worse than if I had a vendetta on you. Don’t ever interfere with my love for somebody else. You follow me?”
He said he recognized the Ten Commandments, like “Thou shall not kill,” but …
“But what I will do is bite your nose off,” he said. “And if you decide you want to bleed to death, that’s up to you. It’s your free will, it’s up to you. That’s the great gift of the Lord, free will.”
Mr. Scotti was saying that he himself would play Lucky Luciano in Blood and Tears. “You’re looking at my father’s face right now,” he said. He removed his sunglasses. “Every wrinkle ! The only thing I don’t have is the little scar on my right eye.”
His voice lowered. “On record, they say he died in 1962, January. That’s another funny bit. I know him till right now. ”
“What?” I said.
He said to leave it at that.
Ms. Lorenz was getting hungry. “Tony,” she asked, “could I ask them for something to pick on?”
“Anything you want!” he said.
Mr. Scotti said his mother never married Lucky Luciano. She loved show business and traveled with Bob Hope during World War II as a dancer. When he was 13, Mr. Scotti said, he was in a gang in Queens that broke into parking meters and gave 10 percent to the girls at school. Mr. Scotti said that as a kid he used to go to Mama Leone’s restaurant with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. “Red carpet with them,” he said. “They’d go with us, I should say. F.D.R.-my old man is the guy behind getting him in office. He made one big mistake: Pearl Harbor. We knew about that a month in advance, and he ordered our fleets in there to get whacked, to get us into the war, that was a big business deal.”
He pulled out a photograph of eight people around a table, taken in 1967 in the Commodore Hotel on 42nd Street. Mr. Scotti is in the picture, with sideburns. He pointed out they were sitting at Table 51.
“You’re looking at that for a funny reason, because that’s when we put out about Area 51, when Pops started it in ’47. Area 51 is true. It’s real. We’ve been communicating since then.”
“Outer space!” Mr. Scotti said, laughing.
I learned a bit more about Mr. Scotti’s interest in the unknown when I met his friend, Dr. Jerry Jacobson, who claims that by subjecting humans to weak electromagnetic fields, he can cure everything from headaches to cancer. The three of us sat down together one night at Marylou’s, Mr. Scotti in a three-piece sharkskin suit which he said had belonged to Lucky Luciano, Dr. Jacobson in a blue suit and Versace tie. Dr. Jacobson said he was a Brooklyn College graduate, a former musician and dentist, and a self-taught expert in relativity theory.
“In my opinion,” said Dr. Jacobson, taking a sip of ice water, “it’s going to create a revolution in the next century. F.D.A. approval is imminent. We’re moving into chronic pain, which is worth at least $600 billion a year.”
He said he made his discovery in 1979 in Yonkers.
“I was there,” Mr. Scotti said. “We were sitting in his house, it had to be 3 in the morning?”
At the time, both men were recently divorced. Dr. Jacobson had been searching for a cure for cancer. “I had no idea what the answer was!” he said. “But I said, ‘I’m not stopping,’ I literally prayed to God, took my physics book and flipped the pages, and I just knew that God would show me the right page. And he gave me the page! It was electromagnetic inductions, something I studied when I was 12. I said to Tony, ‘I got it!'”
“And did we have a party after that,” said Mr. Scotti. “Whoooo!”
Dr. Jacobson imagined what an hour on Larry King Live could do for him. “Everybody in the world would be clamoring in my corner to help push me ahead,” he said. “Everybody.”
It was 1 a.m.
“Tony and I are tired,” said Dr. Jacobson. “We’ve been frustrated, we’ve been through depression, we’ve been through anger, we’ve been through every emotion that you can imagine. We have chosen to be messengers, instruments of divine will.… I believe that I’m one of a select few of individuals throughout the course of history that has been given the opportunity to serve humanity. Every 70 years or so, someone like me is born, in order to accomplish something so that the species can move to the next step. Einstein, Galileo, Newton, Louis Pasteur, Archimedes, Aristotle, Spinoza, Descartes. Those are my friends. Those are the people I live with.”
‘I HAVE A THREE-DEAL PACKAGE. That’s show business and gambling, legalized gambling. Worldwide. Into Santo Domingo from an 800 number, gambling of any type, legal, all on the Internet, right into our casino in Santa Domingo. It’s a couple-billion-dollar package that I’m putting together for about two and half million dollars. And in 30 days, I’ll be pulling up a billion-a-week profit!”
“A billionaire who drives a station wagon,” I said.
“I hate money,” Mr. Scotti said.
We were headed to Long Island in the station wagon to see a singer at a club, Frankie Montana, a man Mr. Scotti called “the new Frank Sinatra,” whom Ms. Lorenz had discovered.
Just ahead of us in a white limo were Ms. Lorenz and Morty Craft, a quiet man in his 70’s wearing a windbreaker whom Mr. Scotti called “an icon in the music business” who had produced several doo-wop groups and, more recently, some rap . At the wheel of the limo was Mr. Scotti’s cousin, Carmine Q., a handsome thick guy wearing a nice black suit.
In the LTD, Mr. Scotti was singing along to the radio; the song was “Zippity-do-dah.” As we crossed the bridge into Queens, Mr. Scotti cursed his cousin. “He went the long way, I would have went on the upper level! He takes always the long way, this bastard. Pain in my ass! I love him! Ah, man, Carmine, I’m gonna shoot him!”
Mr. Scotti’s car was rattling a little.
“You’re gonna see the new Frank Sinatra tonight,” he said. “He’s a young kid, a young Italian kid from Long Island, hard-working kid, works in his family’s Italian restaurant, and does his own thing in music, and he’s a genius at it.” The limo stopped at a red light.
“I’m gonna shoot him when we get there!” said Mr. Scotti. “Now, if the F.B.I. heard me say that, they’d say that’s a conspiracy to murder. But you know what we mean, that’s a New York expression. ‘Cause I love him and I’m pissed off at him!”
He pulled alongside the limo and rolled down his window.
“You take the fucking long way! Why didn’t you go over the upper level onto the Grand Central, we’d a-been there! How do you goooooo the looooong wayyyyyy?” Carmine shrugged.
I asked Mr. Scotti how long he thought he’d live.
“I could buy 800 more. Eight hundred. With Jacobson. We have that already, the secret of life, it’s all in electromagnetics. Why do you think I look the way I look now? Doc wants to send me back to about 35, but I haven’t had any treatments in about two years.”
“So why aren’t there people alive 200, 300 years old?” I asked.
“There are. All over the world. It’s mostly out of America.”
Are aliens real?
“Yes. Yes. Yes,” he said.
Had he seen any?
“Not here, not in New York. Oh, wait! I take that back,” he said. It was around 1978, driving up to Rockland County. “Bumper to bumper traffic on both sides,” he said. “With a spaceship right over us! And the police were there, had to be thousands and thousands of people that witnessed that, and they never reported it. It finally came out; I saw it on Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack. You ever watch that?”
Had Mr. Scotti had any direct contact with aliens?
“I don’t want to get into that now. I have. They’re very nice.”
Did they look like us?
“They’re smaller. They’re not scary, they don’t try to scare us,” he said. “They’re more afraid of us than we are of them. They’re our friends, not our enemies. We live in the same universe and we only have one God, who controls them, too. Honest to goodness. That’s the bottom line.”
We were on the Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown. Shopping malls.
Mr. Scotti sang along loudly to the radio. “Memories of You.” “If You Wish Upon a Star.”
“Listen to these words,” said Mr. Scotti. “Listen to the old music and wonder why you didn’t have crime like you got today. It was all love. Love. Boy meets girl and falls in love.”
We drove up to our destination, Spheres, a club that was next to a bowling shop and Liberty Arms Guns and Ammo. Carmine Q.’s limo was parked outside. It was the only car there.
Mr. Scotti got out and looked inside the nightclub. Not a soul. And locked. Not good. Frankie Montana was on his way with his band; music legend Morty Craft had come out to see the show. Mr. Scotti climbed in the limo. It was tight in the back, there were several suitcases piled up. The heat was way up, too, and Mr. Scotti couldn’t find the controls. He started screaming at Carmine.
Ms. Lorenz was trying to reach Frankie Montana on her cell phone. She loaded a Frankie Montana CD into a portable CD player and handed it to Mr. Craft. He listened and said he liked it.
“I’m sweating like a pig, I gotta get out here,” Mr. Scotti said.
He peered into the locked-up club. Ms. Lorenz got out of the car. She was wearing a big mink coat.
“I told him, ‘Everyone’s here, they love your music,'” Ms. Lorenz said.
She got into the station wagon, and Mr. Scotti started driving us to Ms. Lorenz’s place in Long Beach.
“To the right, to the right!” Ms. Lorenz yelled.
“Now you tell me, slow-pokey-poo back there,” he said. “I never came this way, you know that. I know where we are. Lina, what do you got doing tomorrow?”
“I have things I gotta take care of,” she said. “Personal stuff.”
We dropped her off at midnight. She said she could see shrimp boats every morning. “What was that movie?” she said. ” Forrest Gump ? ”
Later, we stopped by Marylou’s, then at 2:30 a.m. Mr. Scotti said he wanted to go to P.J. Clarke’s. I told him I was tired and wanted to go home, so he drove me there.
Had he ever been in jail?
“I must have been in and out about 20 times,” he said. “Two days, three days, in and out.”
He looked out at the Upper East Side. “You’re in a prison,” he said. “You should see where I live. I’ll pull in now and I’ll see deer walking up my mountain behind my house, or a bunch of wild turkey. Squirrels, everything. I like that.”
A FEW WEEKS WENT BY. Mr. Scotti spent some time upstate: hernia, hospital. While there, he quit booze and cigarettes. Now he was drinking ginger ale at Cuomo’s. He said Hillary Clinton was going to beat Rudolph Giuliani.
“I talk to them all the time,” he said of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. “I got their private number. Now I’m going to get actively involved in her campaign.”
He pulled out a photograph of Lucky Luciano in a three-piece suit, sunglasses, and a knit cap. It was 1947, said Mr. Scotti, and Luciano was leaving Cuba to go back to Italy with $10 million in cash inside a suitcase.
“That’s my dad,” Mr. Scotti said. “If I don’t shave, and I put my sunglasses on, you’d think it was me.”
I paid for my beer, said good night and walked outside. Standing next to a white limo was Mr. Scotti’s cousin, Carmine Q. He was talking on his cell phone, but when I waved goodbye, he motioned for me to wait and got off the phone. He said he guessed I might be “skeptical” about Anthony.
“Well …” I said.
Carmine Q. leaned closer and confided that his cousin had been known to exaggerate .
“He says things ,” he said, smiling. “I’m trying to help Anthony find Anthony, the real Anthony-find his thing .”
Then he told me his phone number. “You want reality, give me a call.”
On the way home, I thought of something Mr. Scotti had said when he and Dr. Jacobson were telling me about their electromagnetic project.
“I feel that I’m here for a purpose,” Mr. Scotti had said. “I feel this is my purpose. And that’s it. If you don’t accomplish your purpose you wasted your life.”
I still haven’t called Carmine.