Were there really mob bosses in the sleepy city of Des Moines, Iowa? According to Matthew Randazzo V, a true-crime author and leading authority on American mob history, there absolutely used to be, and their stories are meant to be told. Randazzo’s readers will be delighted to learn the Olympia-based author will tell one of those stories with the release of his newest book, Now That I’m Dead, Here’s the Real Dirt: The Posthumous Memoirs of Johnny Fratto. “Fratto … was an incredibly charismatic guy with an incredible voice,” said Randazzo. “Translating that to the page and then improvising within his voice was a joy.”
Now That I’m Dead, Here’s the Real Dirt is a comedic memoir of Johnny Fratto, who grew up in a Mafia household in Des Moines with his godfather, a Chicago Mafioso hiding under an assumed name and identity. “Some stories (in the book) make you love (Fratto), some stories make you kind of hate him,” said Heather Matthews, who served as an early reader for the memoir. “There are lots of funny moments and very touching ones, too. It was a very entertaining read.”
Originally from New Orleans, Randazzo grew up in a Sicilian family with “a colorful and bloody history.” He told OLY ARTS he’s always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stories of “official history.” “Louisiana teaches you that a lot of history happens off the record, in back rooms and under tables,” said Randazzo. “I’ve always loved the idea of capturing those hidden, lost pages of history from oblivion.” Much of Randazzo’s previous work, including Breakshot: A Life in the 21st Century American Mafia and Mr. New Orleans: The Life of a Big Easy Underworld Legend, centers on stories of the same nature.
“I’m attracted to surreal and bizarre American life stories, and few are as fascinating as Fratto’s,” said Randazzo. “Raised in a house where Rocky Marciano, Jimmy Hoffa, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Giancana were regulars, he gradually evolved from a Chicago mob hustler during the height of the disco era into eventually becoming a fashion magazine editor, goth club owner and, finally, Hollywood power player and Howard Stern regular.”
What: Now That I’m Dead, Here’s the Real Dirt: The Posthumous Memoirs of Johnny Fratto
When: available online
Where: Amazon, Kindle
How much: TBA