Meeting My Favorite TV Hit Man

by Paul Lombino

Writing inspiration comes in many forms. Mine came earlier this summer when I met my favorite “Sopranos” actor, Vincent Pastore. That’s a picture of Pastore and me outside the intimate Theatre at St. Clements on 46th Street on a magnificent Woody-Allenesque Friday night in NYC with family and friends. (My niece Jennifer took the shot with her cell phone.)

Me and Vincent “Big Pussy” Pastore ─ photo by Jennifer Walsh

Me and Vincent “Big Pussy” Pastore (photo by Jennifer Walsh)

Pastore, you may recall, played the lovable, yet homicidal “Big Pussy” on the groundbreaking HBO classic. He had just completed a live performance in “A Queen for a Day,” written by my brother-in-law Tim’s, brother-in-law Francis’, actual brother Michael Ricigliano, Jr.

On stage, Pastore played mobbed-up Pasquale Cinquimani, brother to Nino Cinquimani portrayed by fellow Sopranos cast member David Proval, who was the utterly irredeemable and sociopathic Richie Aprile until his Janice-induced demise in the cable series. For Soprano-philes like me, meeting Big Pussy was like dying and going to hit-man heaven.

After the play, the actors stepped out of character and greeted audience members in the intimate lobby. There was a large, festive contingency of women celebrating a birthday. This setting gave Pastore an opening to announce his arrival: “Hello Ladies! Big Pussy is here!” Immediately he was surrounded by a bevy of well-wishers.

The impromptu post-play party continued onto the street. This was my chance. I grabbed my niece and said, “You gotta’ take a picture of Big Pussy and me.” Jen positioned herself like a seasoned paparazzi and Pastore couldn’t have been more accommodating.

“Want a picture?” he bellowed. “Sure. C’mon!”

As our arms reached out for that first embrace, I said to him: “Not in the face, okay. Give me that?” He knew what I was talking about. Or at least he pretended to.

After the photo, Big Pussy, um, Pastore turned to the crowd, now breaking up, raised his paw and said: “Good night, folks.” With that, he turned and blended into the Manhattan night. Fade out.

Denouement

Manhattan is energizing. Before the play, I had my first “hookah” experience. As we walked up 7th Avenue from Penn Station toward our ultimate destination, my brother-in-law Tim Murray asked if I wanted to share a hookah.

I raised my brow: “We gotta’ share?”

His wife, my kid-sister Sally, smirked: “Not hooker.”

Oh. Sure. And we did.

But meeting Pastore that night was the peak. The whole evening inspired me to commit to completing a personal project ─ a screenplay ─ by summer’s end. I had started “Wait for Morning” in 2009. I’m hoping the odds of getting my script produced are about the same as meeting up with Big Pussy on 46th Street.

Not in the face, okay. Give me that? (Caution: Contains language and violence.)

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