An Interview with Mob Curator Casey McBride (Part 2)
We are welcoming Casey back into the hot seat today to talk about how things have changed since his first interview back in July 2015, when the wheels only just started turning for him in the mob world.
Over a short space of time, Casey and his interest in the mob has grown and taken him on some incredible journeys, and some jaw-dropping conversations…
Casey, welcome back to the interrogation chair for a round of 10 questions!
The NCS: This is the first time we have done a follow up interview, and to do one so soon after the last, people are going to think not much has changed, surely! So, firstly, tell us about how your life has changed since the last interview back in July 2015, in terms of your involvement and passion in this niche area of organized crime?
Casey McBride: Things have been going very well, it’s good to be back in the interrogation seat. I keep waiting for my interest in this genre to subside, but it seems to do just the opposite.
With the continued growth of the NCS, Uncle Frank’s Place, and the Classic Gangster Society, I’m attempting to take it a little more serious now; by that I mean, trying to do more thorough research. I’ve been burned a few times with bad information I’ve come across. I’m sure it will happen again, but knowing there are a good number of people out there looking to sites like the NCS for information, I suppose I feel a bit more of a responsibility to get it right.
There have been a couple instances I’ve written something as a joke, and within a few hours someone who didn’t realize it was just for fun, has re-posted what I wrote as fact. It’s amazing how fast bad information can spread, and I think it muddies up the water in an already murky pond. I’ve also come to realize that what I write can have an impact on those who are related to these people we are so fascinated with, and not always a positive one.
So, there’s a bit more of a perceived pressure, but I think that’s a positive thing.
The NCS: We talked last time about how Frank Costello ‘seemed’ to be your most inspirational character from the history of the mob. Since then, you have undoubtedly become the man to see when any questions around the Prime Minister need answering.
Casey McBride: I’m proud of that. I’ve had people from all over the world who have contacted me with questions, and when I can answer them, it’s a very gratifying experience for me. Costello was a fascinating man, and much of what I find intriguing about him has nothing to do with the Mob.
Fortunately there is a lot of information on him, so he makes a great subject. My knowledge of other areas of LCN is limited, but Frank lived through so many eras, and had contact with so many characters, in so many parts of the world, I’ve learned a lot by default. I’d be hard pressed to name another mobster who crossed paths with as many people as Frank. He had relationships with a cast of characters that is absolutely staggering.
The NCS: In the last interview, you said:
“I would love to see the Mob Museum. I regret not going when Sandra Lansky spoke there. Christian Cipollini may be speaking there and if so, I intend to make the trip.”
Now, most of the avid NCS readers will have seen photos of you outside and inside the Mob Museum in Vegas, and also a few photos with Christian Cipollini. You’ve managed to fulfil those wishes, so what’s next for you?
Casey McBride: I was thrilled to get to meet Christian. He could not have been a more amiable fellow. He’s also a great speaker and put on an entertaining presentation, which is one of the reasons he’s been so successful. That was great to see and had an impact. This is such a colorful subject, but too often it’s approached in such a dry manner. Christian is part historian, part rockstar.
As I answer these questions, I’m actually in Vegas again. I flew out to see Gary Jenkins, from ganglandwire.com speak at the library for Mob Month, which was great. I invited Mob author, and former casino president Bill Friedman, who lives outside of town, and he came as well.
They both agreed to let me film an interview, and I hope to have them ready to put up at the NCS soon. Having the opportunity to hang out with them at the Tropicana, and discuss Mob biz in person was a bit of a dream day for me.
The NCS: We have also noticed that the old Frank Costello man cave has been building up overtime, what items do you have now?
Casey McBride: It’s a small collection, but growing slowly over time. Mostly it consists of vintage magazines and articles I’ve found on eBay. I’ve got most of the Time magazines that have had articles on him, including the one with Frank on the cover. I found a rare periodical called the Mercury with a fun illustration of Frank on the cover.
Our buddy, and fellow NCS contributor, Ron Rawson, sent me two glasses from Frank’s, Beverly Club, in New Orleans. I sent one to Noel Castiglia, who is a cousin of Frank’s, and he was thrilled. He recently spent and afternoon talking with author Tony DeStefano, and sent me a picture of the two of them toasting with that glass. Today here in Vegas, I found Costello’s autograph in a collectors shop at Mandalay Bay. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in person. It was in a frame with some other top Mobsters and went for only $35,000!
I’ve got a few other odds and ends, playing cards and wanted posters, things of that nature, and I’m beginning to amass a nice collection of autographed books on the subject.
The NCS: We probably know the answer to this, but what items would you love to get your hands on if you could? We can feel a Frank Costello Museum opening here…
Casey McBride: I would love to get my mitts on any personal item that belonged to Frank, a tie, cuff links, anything, but the one item I would love to find if it still exists is the famous fedora with the bullet hole from his assassination attempt.
The mythical photograph of Frank and Vito Genovese shaking hands in the Atlanta Penitentiary would be a close second.
Coming in third would be the slot machine he kept in his Central Park penthouse that always paid out. I can only imagine the list of guests who played that machine!
The NCS: Now we come on to people you have had the pleasure to meet and talk to. Who have been the most inspirational that you have met or spoken with, and what would you say would have been the most prominent subjects?
Casey McBride: I’ve had some email conversations with some authors I respect quite a lot.
Christian Cipollini, Gary Jenkins, Denny Griffin, Tony DeStefano and Bill Friedman.
As I mentioned before, I’ve met a few of those guys now. Usually I talk about, who else, Uncle Frank. I’m constantly sending out emails to people who knew him in hopes they may be willing to talk to me. Most never reply but occasionally some do.
The most surprising replies I’ve received were from Don Rickles, Diamond Jim Morgan’s son, and Sandra Lansky.
Phil Genovese and Meyer Lansky have been good to me, which I really appreciate. I once had an email thread where I had a Castiglia, a Genovese, and a Lansky, and for a second I thought the band might be getting back together!
The biggest surprise I’ve had has been members of Frank’s family reaching out to me, and sharing what they can. I’ve received a few pictures that I would have never seen if not for their generosity, and they have passed along some good stories as well. Most of these stories I can’t share, but I’m honored they trust me. Not long after I did our first interview I was contacted by Noel Castiglia, through Frank’s Place. He gave me his phone number and wanted to talk. My first thought was, uh oh, he’s going to chew me out and tell me to stop writing about his family, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. He is very knowledgeable, very supportive, and very enthusiastic about the page.
Noel is one of the handful of people I’ve talked to who actually saw Frank. They say Costello was a very amiable man. If he was half as affable as Noel, I can see why he’s remembered that way. Through Noel, I’ve made contacts with people in Frank’s birth place of Lauropoli, Italy, and there have been so many other things he’s helped with, I can’t list them all. I adore the man and am hoping to meet him in person perhaps later this year. It’s changed my perspective quite a bit. There are certain lines I won’t cross now, that I wouldn’t have given any thought to a year ago. I value these people’s trust more than writing a great post.
The NCS: You talked briefly about a book on Costello last time, is the book on Frank Costello still an ambition in the pipeline, and if so have you given much thought to when you hope to release it?
Casey McBride: Yes, I still would like to write the definitive volume on Frank. Tony DeStefano has plans to release a book on Frank in 2018, and he has expressed an interest in speaking to me in the coming months. As I mentioned earlier, he and Noel met, and Noel shared what he could. Since then, Noel and I have been bombarding the poor fellow with emails concerning possible leads he may want to pursue. Tony has a Pulitzer, several books under his belt, and speaks about the subject all over the country, including the Mob Museum. He has the know-how and the juice to get things done that I could never hope for, so I look at this as a great opportunity for all of us interested in the Prime Minister. I’m very excited for his book and am willing to assist any way I can.
Gary Jenkins gave me some encouraging advice the other day. He told me just because there is another book on the subject, it doesn’t mean I need to abandon my plans. In fact, it can be a very positive thing.
The NCS: We asked you last time if you had the chance to go back in time and ask Frank one question, what would that be and why. Fast forward to now, and how much knowledge you have soaked up, what would the question be?
Casey McBride: Can you get me a gig as house drummer at the Copa? Ha! That’s a tough question. I think I would ask him what he would have done differently if he had a second chance, then I’d get his autograph!
The NCS: With so much done in the past year, what other things do you currently have up your sleeve that you can share with the NCS?
Casey McBride: I am going to be editing the interviews I recently filmed in hopes of putting them up on the NCS, then I would like to focus a bit more on the Frank’s Place section on the site. I’ve neglected that over the last few months I’m afraid, and I would like to get it moving again. Then later this year, as I mentioned, I would like to make it back East and possibly film a few more interviews.
The NCS: Casey, until the next interview where you will be telling us that you are starring in a TV show on the mob, we wish you all the best of luck with your endeavors and hope you continue to be a fundamental part of the NCS.
Casey McBride: Thank you Craig. The NCS has been nothing but good to me, and I can’t express how grateful I am.
You can browse through the Uncle Frank’s Place here on the NCS, or look through Casey’s articles right below in the author box.
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- An Interview with Mob Curator Casey McBride (Part 2) - January 13, 2017