"The Sopranos is bullshit," my friend Frankie Boy is explaining as we drive through the meatpacking district in his leased Lexus. "We're real. We meet people and we make them laugh. Most guys go up to a girl and say, 'You look good.' I'll go up to a girl and say, 'What's your fucking problem?' We go to clubs in sneakers. We look like bums. But we glow."
Frankie Boy, 27, is short with dark eyebrows and lives with his parents in Carroll Gardens. He earns $13 an hour grinding coffee but wears a $6,800 Cartier watch. He says he was able to pay for it, and the car, because "I do things."
We're on our way to Pastis to meet up with his friends "D.P." and "Gallo," who are also from Carroll Gardens and "do things" too. The guys go out three to four times a week. They eat dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi or Pastis, then go to Lotus or Bungalow 8, drink, dance, and pick up girls. Despite the fact that they all have long-term girlfriends.
They used to spend a lot more money, dropping a grand in a night between them, but lately they've reined things in. In June, Gallo was arrested along with sixteen members and associates of the Gambino family and charged with operating an illegal gambling business.
When we walk into Pastis, Gallo and D.P. are waiting at a round table, looking freshly scrubbed and gelled. They're dressed in snorkel jackets, jeans, and sneakers. Gallo is 27 and stocky, with a piggish grin; D.P., 28, good-looking but sinister. We order steak and vodka tonics and I lay into them. "Why do you guys cheat?"
"It doesn't look good, " Frankie Boy tells me. "She's got one of those friends the mean sober one who keeps an eye on her all night."
"Sometimes your girlfriend gets on your nerves," says Gallo. "You take care of her, you treat her good, but you cheat on her on the reg."
"Do your girlfriends know?"
"They think we're working," says D.P., shaking his head. "Out doing business, politicking."
"How can you cheat and feel no guilt?"
"There's no deliberate hurt," Gallo chimes in. "I know it's wrong. I wear a condom. And we don't bring the FBs by."
"What's an FB?"
"A filthy bastard. A girl who will sleep with anybody and do practically anything."
"It seems like a lot of trouble," I say. "Why not just break up with your girlfriends and have all the sex you want?"
"You have to have someone you could bring home to family affairs," says Gallo. "Someone who could bring the dry-cleaning in."
"This is the difference between a wife and a goomah," Frankie Boy says. "You're on a ship with your wife and your goomah, the ship's about to sink, and you can only save one. Who do you save? Your wife. Because your goomah, she understands."
I ask them if their steadies are Italian, and they respond with a chorus of belligerent nos. They are all Puerto Rican girls who live with their parents, too.
"White girls are all spoiled rotten," says Gallo. "Spanish girls appreciate things, like if you buy them a drink, open a door."
"Buy their kids' diapers," says D.P. Another chorus of raucous laughter.
I look around at the three of them and I can't quite figure it out. Granted, they're built, but they're not movie-star handsome, and their clothes are more Roc-A-Fella than goodfella.
"What do girls see in you?" I ask.
"We make them laugh," says D.P. "Once you make them laugh, the looks are off their mind. But we're not looking for girlfriends. We're looking for FBs."
On a cold, rainy sunday night, Frankie Boy and Gallo take me to Lotus for their favorite party, Sunday Industry Night. We go up to the VIP section, where they greet the bouncer, who immediately ushers us in. Their friends -- half a dozen girls -- are waiting at a table, all in their twenties, attractive, and tipsy. As we make our way to the table, we pass Gisele Bündchen and Carmen Kass, and the actor Adrien Brody, who's taking photos on a tiny digital camera.
Frankie Boy and Gallo hoist themselves up onto the banquette, feet on the seat, as is the style, and order a bottle of Grey Goose for $350. A cute Lolita-esque girl next to Frankie Boy lights up a Marlboro. "This girl's dirty," he tells me. "I can see it in her eyes."
They talk for a while, and then he notices another girl, next to the first, eyeing him suspiciously. "It doesn't look good," he says. "She's got one of those friends, the mean sober one who keeps an eye on her all night."
A blunt gets passed around, and Gallo gets up and starts dancing with a petite woman in a tight white V-neck. Her back is to his front, and I notice his hand creeping up her skirt. "What's sexy about him?" I ask her.
"He's Gallo," she says, shrugging.
In the morning, Gallo calls and says he got lucky -- with a girl he already knew, after the V-neck left. He says he was ignoring her deliberately, knowing it would get her fired up.
As it turns out Frankie Boy got lucky, too. "After you left, an all-American-looking blonde, really not my type, grabbed my sweatshirt and said, 'You look really good in that sweatshirt.' " They danced and made out on the dance floor. She asked if they could go home, and he told her he lived with his parents, so she took him to her place on St. Marks.
The apartment was a mess, he says, and there were cats everywhere. She pushed him right to the couch. "She didn't even give me a chance to think. Boom. All she wanted to do was blow me. I couldn't walk when I got out of there."
Half of me thinks he's making it up, but his tone is one of incredulity, not braggadocio.
"She handled it like an animal. The cats were driving me crazy. I was starting to sneeze. There was one on my shoulder, one on the side, another on my head, meow, meow. After I came the second time, she said, 'Honey, I'm a little tired now.' I said, 'Well, help me up.' I sat in the cab all the way home with my mouth open. We'll see what happens. Maybe I met my soul mate."