His Witness

In Mouthpiece, Hayes writes about his abusive, alcoholic father, his quick rise through the Bronx D.A.’s office, his switch to making gobs of money off lowlifes and, later, celebrities, and his romps with hookers. He spoke to Jada Yuan.

Is everything in this memoir true?
I’m not anticipating any problems, but I am prepared to reveal in the pages of New York Magazine that I have been a drug addict for most of my adult life and I was in prison for three or four years.

What did you have to tone down?
The book is intended to be a combination of a memoir and a noir detective novel. A lot of stuff had to come out, mostly about the situation at my house as a kid. The editor said, “Look, it’s depressing enough as it is.” There were a lot of legal issues, too. And a lot of really good sex stories are not in the book.

You write that you once accidentally ended up in bed with a transsexual.
First of all, I knew the transsexual was a transsexual when I brought her home. I just didn’t realize at the time that some transsexuals still had penises. Okay?

Who’s the best-looking woman in New York?
My wife, all right? I am not stupid.

Has Celexa made you a better lawyer?
Yes! I only wish my father and grandfather, who were both alcoholics, had access to modern medication.

When you talk about your lowest career point, when you lost your appeal against the Andy Warhol Foundation, you imply that Warhol’s executor Fred Hughes died of multiple sclerosis because he betrayed you.
No. He died a horrible death, but he betrayed a lot of people, not just me.

What’s your strategy for defending one of the “Mafia cops”?
Essentially this: For 30 years, my client risked his life to protect the public. The main witness against him is a man who got out of jail to say my client was a bad man.

But doesn’t it hurt you to be teaming up with John Gotti’s lawyer?
Bruce Cutler is the godfather of my daughter. Never forget that he was one of the best homicide prosecutors that came out of Brooklyn. I bet he’s defended at least as many cops as he’s defended hoodlums.

Would you ever become a mob lawyer?
Nah. I can’t stand representing people who wear those ridiculous tracksuits.

His Witness