Last month, Randy DeOrio, former professional boxer and actor, was inducted into the Paterson Museum in New Jersey. This week, he was a studio guest on The Wiseguyz Radio Show.
“I feel like I’m coming over to a friend’s house. I got a cup of coffee in my hand, the game’s on,” D’Aurio said. “I used to peek through the window and watch you guys. Now I’m on the other side.”
Game Seven of the World Series played on a TV in the studio’s lounge. DeOrio was born in Chicago and is a lifelong Cubs fan. While he kept tabs on the game throughout the night, his appearance on the show took priority. It was hard to tell if DeOrio was more flattered to be talking on air with the Wiseguyz or exhibited in the museum.
“As far as the Wiseguyz, I always feel like family when I come here,” he said. “You guys treat me great. God bless you.”
“Yeah, but we’re not lending you money,” James The Magician said. “Not this family!”
Every Wednesday from 8-10 p.m., DDVradio in Paterson hosts The Wiseguyz Show, which, this week, consists of Freddy “The Fireman,” James “The Magician,” Peter “The Chicken Man,” who works at a slaughterhouse, and Billy “Gagootz.”
The studio’s green room is about the size of a large walk-in closet, with olive walls and royal blue carpet. Inside is a table with five microphones on it, a laptop, an iPad, a pack of Billy’s spearmint gum and Peter’s Newport cigarettes. There is a banner on the wall with “The Wiseguyz Show” written over an Italian flag, flanked by two mirroring silhouettes of cartoon women holding Tommy guns and wearing fedoras.
After the DeOrio segment, the crew dialed up playwright Kathleen Wilkes. Wilkes became acquainted with Billy when she accidentally used his trademarked “The Bubblegum Gangster” in a play she was writing.
“Is there anybody Billy Gagootz doesn’t know?” asked James, who wears a baseball cap that says “Magician” on it.
“Aye… I can’t mention those names,” Billy said. “Forget about it.” Billy is a stocky 5’8”, with a faded tattoo on his right shoulder and wrinkled grooves all around his face, worn deep from lots of smiling.
The interview with Wilkes proceeded rigidly, if not awkwardly. She politely laughed at the gang’s repeated interruptions, most of them self-deprecating sarcasm. Meanwhile, DeOrio stood outside with a few listeners and watched the Cubs take a 3-1 lead on the Indians. Wilkes plugged her new Off Broadway show and thanked the guys for having her on the show. They sent her off with applause, which is customary when guests finish an interview.
“That was good. Good interview, Billy,” Freddy said. He wore an Italian flat cap over his high top fade and a XXL Deadpool t-shirt, with black gym shorts.
“Yeah she’s a sweetheart. Nice lady,” Billy said.
During a segment break, Peter Scafali, a local resident and friend of the program, shared mafia stories of altered presidential elections with a listening guest in the lounge. Billy spoke Spanish with the show’s producer, Jose, who frequently rolled his eyes over the course of the broadcast. Jose is heavy-set, with a baby face and a day job at Home Depot. Peter (the Chicken Man) went out for a smoke and returned with a Diet Coke, after the show returned to air.
The show’s final guest was Leonardo Cavalli, an author and musician, who discussed his book 24 and Divorced: From Tragedy to Triumph.
“You know what it is, Leonardo? Marriage is a three-ring circus,” Billy said. “You get the engagement ring, the wedding ring and then the suffering.”
“That’s what you should’ve put in the book,” Freddy told Cavalli.
The discussion turned to Cavalli’s album. Billy asked if he played any instruments, to which James interjected, “Other than the female organ. We know the skin flute!”
While they played a single from Cavalli’s record on air, the guys chatted about divorce.
“I had my son at twenty-four. Twenty-seven, I got married. Nine months later I said ‘See ya,’” recalled Peter. “I spent about 200,000 on my wedding. 475 people.”
“Did they all come to the divorce party?” asked Billy.
After a few more jokes about lap dances and Cavalli’s $15,000 strip club escapades, he received the same applauding farewell as Wilkes.
Wrapping things up, Freddy pluged a sponsored “pink drink” beverage to the audience, to which James replied, “I’ve got something for you to taste.” James was the only one who laughed, as Freddy charged on and thanked the evening’s guests.
Outside the green room, the TV continued playing the World Series game. The Cubs were up 6-3. D’Aurio peeked into the window, looked around and smiled.