Settling Scores: Strippers, Sicilians, Serbs, and Street Wars (with Nia Molinari)
Rudy Giuliani and the Disneylandification of NYC
Nia Molinari, my guest on today’s PREVAIL podcast, is a writer with a knack for noticing things other people miss. I’m not the only one who’s realized this. The wiseguys who ran the Vegas strip clubs where she used to work felt the same way. She has a unique perspective from which to view the criminal underworld, and uses it to great effect in her work.
Here are some excerpts from her output at PREVAIL:
F—ck Giuliani: Rudy and The Red Garter
A retired stripper explores the connections between Rudy Giuliani, the Five Families, and the clubs where she worked in the late 90s.
Even after I quit stripping, I couldn’t stop thinking about the strangeness of my summer in New York. I came to town with a decade of experience and excellent references. If that was enough to get me hired on the spot at Lace and The Red Garter, why did the managers at Flashdancers and Scores invent reasons to send me away? And: Why were some of the clubs shut down, but not the others? "Re-zoning” alone failed to explain it—not given the neighborhoods where those clubs were located. Also: why were the clubs that weren’t shut down the very same ones that specifically rejected me? I thought back to what I’d overhead at the club in Queens, the anti-Giuliani complaints. What defined “us,” and what defined “them”?
I began to sift through what information I had. I knew that some of the clubs I had worked at over the years were what might be called “mobbed up.” Some owners were Italian, some Irish, some bikers, some Korean, and some were Persians that tried too hard to make people think they were Italian. It all depended on what part of the country you were in. As long as you minded your own business, and stayed out of theirs, it was no big deal. As a matter of fact, those clubs were usually better to work at than the newer, corporate clubs. Generally speaking, they treated you better. I never asked questions when I was working in the clubs. I knew what I worked for, but not who—not exactly. But that seemed critical to solving the mystery.
I started a deep dive down the Internet. I discovered Jerry Capeci’s Gangland News. I’d sit for hours, drink a bottle of wine, and scour that website, among others. I learned the history of the Mob, going back a hundred years. I learned the origins of the NYC Five Families: the Genoveses, the Gambinos, the Bonannos, the Lucheses, the Columbos, and the Chicago Outfit, as well as the other scattered families throughout the country, including in Philadelphia. I became an absolute true crime nerd. I also realized that I probably knew some people and knew some things that I didn’t know I knew, and I don’t want to know I know, and if I knew I would deny knowing, if you know what I mean.
Where America's Day Begins
Reflecting on the January 6 insurrection, a retired dancer recalls a terrifying night at a strip-club on Guam in 1994.
Welcome to Guam.
On any given day that summer, there were between one and three Navy ships docked at the base. If I remember correctly, there were an additional 10 ships docked at the island that week—including the Kitty Hawk II, a carrier named for the ship that ran logistics in the Pacific Theater during World War II. But it wasn’t all pomp: The military was on high alert due to the recent death of North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung.
The night of the Liberation Day parade started out in the ordinary fashion. The club was busy, but manageable. Somewhere around midnight, that’s when the gagglefuck of soldiers came flooding in. The air oozed with unstable booze-drenched testosterone. I remember someone telling me the majority of these young men had not seen an American girl in months. There were just six dancers working, and only three of us were white.
In all my time working in strip-clubs, I had never felt fear, and here I was, cowering in that tiny locker room, afraid of men whose actual job it was to protect me.
Last call came and went. We sat in the locker room waiting for the place to clear out, but the soldiers wouldn’t leave. There was only one way out—through the front door. My friend and I decided to make a break for it. We managed to maneuver our way through the unceasing pack of sweaty soldiers as quickly as we could. It was like pushing through a mob of starving seagulls, and we were the peanuts.
One soldier stumbled into my face and yelled, “Give me a blow job, baby!” I loudly snarked back: “Sure, baby. Let me know when your mom is done.” Of course this caused a detonation of howls, pushing, and backslapping in our wake.
We finally made it out the front door. Outside, there were even more soldiers—an endless sea of howling, floundering men between us and the parking lot. At the bottom of the stairs, one of the soldiers snatched and jerked hard on my long skirt, tearing it. I snapped. I whipped around, grabbed his throat, and repeatedly slammed that asshole’s head into the wall. I noticed a Shore Duty soldier in uniform standing there watching me. I let go, and apologized to the Shore Duty soldier. He shrugged and smirked with seeming amusement, then looked away. A couple of the island boys we knew appeared, and made sure we got to our car safely.
All Tuckered Out
Yuppie scum, the Seychelles, and dead pimps, oh my.
Tucker and I have one other thing in common: We both know a lot about sex workers.
Why do I say this? Well, he talks about or references sex workers all the time, but not in the way someone who is personally unfamiliar with them would. For example, in this 2006 interview with Wendy Murphy about the Duke lacrosse rape case on MSNBC’s “The Situation with Tucker Carlson,” he said:
Now, everybody, apart from maybe you, knows the truth, which is the testimony of an ordinary person is different from the testimony of someone who hires herself out to dance naked in front of and, yes, and sometimes sleeps with people, strangers, right? They’re different. It’s okay to have a bias against strippers in this case, isn‘t it?
The key here is the word sometimes. Why is this telling? Because no one would use that phrasing unless he had some familiarity with sex work. Others might assume that strippers and prostitutes are one and the same—that all strippers have sex in exchange for money. Tucker seems to understand that not all strippers are hookers, and this “tell” suggests to this ex-stripper that he has known many sex workers personally over the years. Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that he avails himself of their services; I just mean he knows enough about them to speak with some authority.
He certainly doesn’t respect them, however. He is frequently a flagrant misogynist, and a creepy sexist pig, as is his brother Buckley. If the sons are sexist assholes, then there’s a pretty good chance their father is, too—which might help explain why his mother abandoned him. Tucker’s glaring misogyny was on full display in an interview with Lauren DeLuca in 2016. This entire interview feels like an abusive spouse gaslighting his wife into submission and should be used as a PSA for women to learn about emotional abuse. (I wonder if he does that to his wife and children? I hope not. The only clip I could find of the Carlsons together was on Fox and Friends for Mother’s Day, and it reminded me of the video of Melania Trump’s speech [:30] when the Creature creeps by and squeezes her arm like a warning. Gross.)
The other reason I opine that Tucker knows a lot about sex workers is that one of his good friends, Dennis Hof, was literally a pimp. Hof was the proprietor of The Moonlite Bunny Ranch (and others) outside of Reno, Nevada. Gratuitous documentaries about life at his brothel, and eventually a series—all conveniently called “Cathouse”—aired sporadically on HBO late night from 2002-2014. (The series is no longer available on HBO, best as I can tell.)
I met Hof once, in the summer of 2005 or 6. I was performing burlesque with a friend at an adult biz convention in Los Angeles. One of those adult film star and sex toy convention things that were a big deal in the late 1990s into the mid-2000s. You know, like a comic book convention, but for porn. I was walking through the crowd and noticed Dennis (I recognized him from his show). He locked eyes with me from across the room and smiled. I broke eye contact and turned another direction. A few moments later I looked up, startled. He was standing directly in front of me. “Hi. I’m Dennis,” he said with a sheepish, predatory grin, while towering over me way too close for comfort. I made up a name. He bragged about who he was, slathering on the charm. I don’t recall the rest of the small talk, I just remember feeling like cornered prey as he put his arm around me and pulled me in without invitation, while he asked me to come to his booth and also to his brothel. I made up some excuse and quickly escaped his attempt to turn me out.
Tucker was covering Ron Paul’s presidential run in Nevada in November 2007 when he randomly decided to call his good friend, Hof. Tucker later wrote about it in an article for The New Republic. Hof and Tucker supposedly became friends “while he was at MSNBC,” according to Hof, but details are scarce. Even Sean Hannity got in on the “Cathouse” action. This video (Warning: 18+ NSFW) from Hof’s 2008 birthday party gives one a glimpse of how the professional pimp lived his life, and makes one seriously wonder how exactly he and Tucker became friends. This unlikely friendship makes more sense, however, when you pay attention to Tucker’s history of abusive misogyny, his sexist comments, and the frequent random references to sex workers in his monologues and interviews.
Two years after this photo was taken at a Ron Paul event, Brooke Phillips, a brothel worker and star of “Cathouse,” was murdered in Oklahoma City. She was pregnant at the time of her death; the father was unknown. Her young life tragically ended in graphic violence, but the shows and political games must go on. “Cathouse” continued to air new specials on HBO, and in 2009, Tucker moved on to his new home at Fox News. In 2010, Tucker started The Daily Caller. His site ran hit pieces about Dem candidates and prostitutes, while he was chumming around with Hof like the hypocrite he is.
Remember Sergey Kislyov, the Soviet ambassador to the Seychelles back when Dick was there? Well, he became the Russian ambassador to Czech Republic in Prague in 2010. The following year during the 2011 Republican primaries, Tucker and his old foil Grover Norquist kissed and made up, co-hosting an RNC chair debate. Hof, his girls, and Tucker backed Ron Paul once again in 2012, albeit separately in public.
It is around this time frame that Tucker seemed to lose the lighter side of his on-air personality. His eyes became colder, and his vibe became angrier. That idealistic young gonzo reporter he once was seemed to be fading away. Was there some kind of Faustian bargain he made that caused this? Did Daddy Dick call upon him for “a favor” he couldn’t refuse? Was the change triggered by the death of his estranged mother in 2011? We don’t know, and probably never will, but something was shifting—darkening.
Michael Michael and the Catastrophic Cascade
Is Serbia the new nexus of organized crime?
[A] 62-year-old man sits in a jail cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, awaiting sentencing. He was arrested on February 23, 2021, when federal agents rummaging through his Ridgewood, Queens apartment during a court-authorized search found a semi-automatic handgun in his nightstand. He did not deny it was his, and due to his 20-month stint in prison 40 years ago for wire fraud, he’s not allowed to possess a handgun.
He’s an upstanding citizen, minds his own business. His community loves him. Hell, he’s even philanthropic—the largest donor to his local church. Even so, he’s been denied bail, multiple times. He took a plea deal in December on the gun possession charge, and is expected to be sentenced next month. Despite the seemingly mundane offense, he will not be released from prison.
His name is Mileta Miljanić—aka Michael Michael. And he has quite the backstory.
There was this guy named Boško Radonjić, who in the 1970s emigrated to the United States from then Yugoslavia—hence his nickname, “The Yugo.” He really hated Communists, and ended up doing time in prison here for plotting to bomb the Yugoslav consulate in Chicago. (That’s pretty damn ballsy, one has to admit.) Once out of jail, he jaunted back to New York, where in 1982 he cozied up in Hell’s Kitchen with Jimmy Coonan of the Westies, who was already nuzzled up with the Gambino family under Paul Castellano. Shortly after that, our buddy Michael Michael moved to New York and started working for Boško. He was subsequently busted for credit card fraud—which is why he can’t have a gun.
Oh, but wait. There’s more. Michael Michael just happens to be the head of Group America, one of the most dangerous and violent international organized crime organizations in the world right now—one that no one seems to be paying any attention to here in the United States. Why is an outfit based in Serbia called “Group America?” Because it has connections to New York. According to in-depth research done by OCCRP and KRIK, it is also rumored to have deep intelligence agency ties, and may even be directly connected to the CIA.
I stumbled upon Michael Michael’s name about a year ago, while casually perusing Jerry Capeci’s weekly mobster news drop on his Gangland News website. It caught my eye because it seemed to be related to a recent slew of Gambino family indictments.
The first wave of these Gambino indictments were dropped by the EDNY on December 5, 2019, and involved construction rackets. Another wave of indictments, seemingly unrelated, were dropped by the SDNY on October 1, 2020, also involving construction rackets, and including a labor union leader named James Cahill. It is this second indictment by SDNY where our boy Michael Michael is mentioned:
“John [Gotti, former boss of the Gambino Crime Family] was like this [crossing his fingers] with my brother and brother-in-law and this guy, Bosko. That was his crew. That was his Irish crew.” Here, Cahill appears to be referring to his brother Mickey Cahill, his brother-in-law Buddy Leahy, and former head of the Westies Bosko Radonjic. Cahill then continued, in sum and substance, “Well, Bosko’s understudy is Michael Michael. He’s my guy. . . . So now, Mickey’s gone, Buddy’s gone, and he’s, he’s, now Michael is around and Louis is in play now. And Louis was very tight with my brother Mickey who was tight with Michael.” — Filed by Ilan Graff, SDNY; page 5
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
S5 E5: Settling Scores: F*ck Giuliani (with Nia Molinari)
Greg Olear is joined by the pseudonymous Nia Molinari, the retired stripper, screenwriter, mob watcher, and PREVAIL contributor, who tells her epic “F*ck Giuliani” story. They also discuss Tucker Carlson’s strange relationship with dead pimp Dennis Hof, an obscure Serbian crime lord now in police custody, the strip club landscape in 1999 NYC and how it correlated to the politics of the various crime families, and Rudy’s shady dealings over the last four decades. Plus: a bank you KNOW ain’t woke.
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Photo credit: Hasan Albari. Disco lights.
Let me cry "Uncle!" Nia Molinari is right when she says there are too many names to keep track of. I am resisting the temptation to align myself with the "ignorance is bliss" camp. So, I'll be hanging in there with you. Thanks, Greg.
Can't wait for this! A perfect finale to bingeing, "When Truth Isn't Truth" on Peacock from MSNBC and TIME. Ye gods, and I thought Trump was bad. He's a piker next to Giuliani, who was in elected office all that time, waging war on all the things he found PERSONALLY distasteful. He's a virulent racist, an opportunist, and is SO FAR from his once well-known reputation as "America's Mayor," it's truly sickening. Spoiler alert though, you also have to sit through Andrew Giuliani, failed candidate for governor of New York, and the annoying, dough-headed little twit who used to try to take over his father's press conferences and who is still very much the same, praise his father for everything he's ever done, including January 6th. Fuck Giuliani, indeed! All of them, Katie. All of them.