When Mob Wives first premiered on VH1 in late April of 2011, it received a lot of criticism for the subject matter. A show that followed the lives of women with known ties to the mob, it was sure to be controversial, and that would either be a curse or a blessing for the series. One season in, and countless on-screen fights between cast members later, it's become clear that it absolutely was a blessing, as the show has become what can only be described as a "mega-hit." A consistent top performer in its time slot, the second season of the show saw a 56% viewer increase, world-wide Twitter trending, the addition of an after-show, and even the promise of a spin-off set in Chicago.
Season two also saw the addition of two new cast members, including Staten Island bar owner, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola. With her large lips, even larger personality, and a voice that Katheen Turner would be jealous of, Big Ang has been able to remain somewhat of a calm, neutral fixture on a show that is anything but—a refreshing change from the crazy fighting. This made her a quick fan favorite, and even prompted a couple of die-hard fans to get a picture of her face tattooed on them.
We talked with Big Ang recently about her new-found fame on the series and what exactly she thinks of all the crazy fighting between cast members.
Interview by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)
What made you want to join the cast of Mob Wives?
I knew all the girls, so I was interested in doing it. It looked kind of fun, so when they came and approached me, I said, OK, I’ll try it.
One of my friends become a rat and informant on me, I got arrested and did house arrest, so I know what it’s like when someone rats you out and violates you. You never really can know a person.
How has the filming experience been so far?
It’s been exciting, very overwhelming. More than I ever expected.
Has it been hard adjusting to the cameras being around all the time?
At first it was, now I’m getting used to it.
What do you think of all the sudden popularity you’re receiving from the show’s fans? Everyone’s calling you their new favorite cast member.
Oh, forget it. The people are swarming me, even in Disney, they’re all over me. It’s crazy. I’m trying to go to a quiet location, I’m walking around in Epcot right now.
Oh wow, you’re multi-tasking.
Have you had any crazy fan encounters yet?
I had roses delivered to [my bar, Drunken Monkey] with my picture on each rose. That was very weird. It was really, really nice—it was beautiful, they were really nice. I get fan mail delivered to the bar, too.
What did you think of the tattoos fan got recently of your face? Or – I guess there were two?
Well, my nephew has one, which he got 10 years ago, so I’ve seen that, but I haven't seen the other one yet. But I think it’s really crazy, I’m really honored, I’m very excited, I think it’s really nice.
With a show like Mob Wives, is there a lot of pressure to bring the drama, maybe just to reach a bar that the show’s set in the past with all the crazy fights?
With the fighting?
I totally do not agree with the fighting. I think it’s out of control and ridiculous. I really wish it would stop, so we could enjoy being with each other, hanging out, doing fun things…not killing each other. It’s ridiculous.
Do you think that Karen and Drita could ever get to a point of being civil with one another?
I’m hoping that they can. We’re trying to work on that now. We’re trying to work on that.
Are we going to see that in the coming episodes?
Gotta watch it to see it!
If you had to give one piece of advice to the other women, what would it be?
Calm down, relax, let bygones be bygones, and let’s forget the past. Forget it, and drop it. We’ve got to move forward, forget moving backwards. Let's go forward.
That’s good advice. What is one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you?
That I really have a soft heart and I’m a good person. They think I’m so fake.
I know that when the series started, it got a lot of criticism for the subject matter, though obviously now, one season in, it’s clearly blown up into this huge hit. How do you respond to any of the criticisms that the show receives?
I tell them…listen, this is life. What are you going to do? Everybody will get over it and be all right with it eventually. Get over it.
If they don’t like it, they don’t have to watch, right?
Exactly, change the channel. I tell them change the channel, you don’t have to watch it! You don’t got nothing nice to say, you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I don’t like something, I change it, what’s the problem?
You consider yourself very much a part of what’s come to be known as the “lifestyle” on the show. What exactly is the “lifestyle”?
The lifestyle is exciting and glamorous. That’s the breakdown. Very exciting, and very glamorous.
You’ve spoken about your plastic surgery before on the show, and that you want to get more done.
I would like to have a little liposuction, and like a little bit of something with the face and the eyes. You know, I am going to be 52 in a couple of months.
Are you still seeing the same guy that you mentioned in episode two?
No, I’m trying to work things out actually with my husband. I’m married to a regular city worker, for the past two years. I’m trying to work things out with him right now.
How is that going?
Eh, day by day. I take it one day at a time.
Is it hard trying to have a relationship when you’ve got reality show cameras following you around all the time, to keep that separate?
It’s always hard, it’s getting harder with the cameras. As a matter of fact, there are people all around as we’re talking [right now]. They’re like, “Is that you, Big Ang? Is that you? Could I take a picture?” And I’m going, “Shh, I’m on the phone!”
So, you’re getting recognized a lot?
Oh, please, it’s crazy.
I know there’s a lot of stuff going on right now with Renee’s ex-husband, Junior, having been recording conversations for the FBI, and that just kind of blew up last Friday. What’s your comment on that whole situation?
I totally do not agree with that, and, you know—they make their bed, they gotta lie in it. It’s not for me. I have no comment.
Have you spoken to Renee since it happened?
Yes, I actually feel really bad for Renee, she doesn’t deserve what he’s done to her and her son. That’s very selfish on his behalf. People are very selfish, and this is what they do.
You do the crime…you have to do the time.
Is it hard to figure out who you can and can’t trust?
You never know. You think you can trust people, and then again, they stab you right in the back. I have my guard up 24/7. I’ve been there before.
I had one of my friends become a rat and informant on me, I got arrested and did house arrest, so I know what it’s like when someone rats you out and violates you. You never really can know a person.
Interview by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)