There's an awful lot of myths about mobsters: they keep their mouths shut, they don't deal drugs and they like the ladies. However, in his new book The Mob and the City Alex Hortis exposes these and other myths about the life with detailed references to the historical record.
For example, the Mafia not only invented modern gay urban culture but some of the tough guys got down and dirty with the scene, and Hortis writes:
Even in its formative decades, the Cosa Nostra had some members who engaged in forms of same-sex acts or transgender dressing. According to FBI informants, David Petillo "in his early teens was reputed to be a 'fairy,'" and "dressed as a woman" to disguise himself while executing hits. (Petillo was convicted with Charles Luciano for compulsory prostitution in 1936). Similarly, Charles Gagliodotto reportedly wore dresses and carried his gun in a purse so often he was known in the Genovese Family as the "fag hit-man." Later, the wiseguy operator of the Stonewall Inn, whose father was a prominent mafioso, had male lovers. Mobster Joseph "Crazy Joey" Gallo talked about how "normal, natural and unremarkable" homosexuality was in prison. Gallo held interests in gay bars including the Purple Onion and Washington Square.
In the book's forward New York University law professor James B. Jacobs writes "also fascinating and new (at least to me) are Hortis's accounts of Mafia members' ownership of gay bars and clubs and the participation of some mobsters in the gay scene," and in a later chapter Hortis generously provides a "thanks" to this blog Friends of Ours "for identifying FBI documents and other primary sources on gay bars."
Veteran mob writer Jerry Capeci says "if there's a better book on the early history of Cosa Nostra in America, I haven't seen it."
Further reading that may be of interest: