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Conversations with Tommy Sinopoli

Porn Valley- The last time I ran into Tommy Sinopoli, dead people were involved. There was the Irish wake held for Bruce Seven at The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City. Then it was Bobby Hollander’s turn, also at The Sportsman’s Lodge.

Except Bobby wasn’t dead yet but it was only a matter of time. Tommy threw a going away party for Hollander, away being a place Bobby wasn’t going to come back from. Bobby showed up with his tan and white teeth. He was dead a couple of weeks later. But Bobby already knew the end of the book without having to read the final chapter.

Tommy remembers being flat busted and broke but throwing the party anyway for his dear friend. Tommy’s telling me how much he misses Hollander. I do too because it was Hollander and John Bowen who gave me access to the adult industry when I first started, virtually giving me the open door and the secret handshake. Tommy tells me how Hollander smoked cocaine and would appear to rise off the floor like one of those Indian mystics. On the other hand, Bowen smokes food which lends the uncanny appearance of anchoring him to the floor.

I spent the better part of Wednesday afternoon visiting Tommy, talking about old times, tossing back some Crown Royal- an expensive habit I’ve picked up recently from Skeeter Kerkove,

Tommy offers me a Cuban but he’s already apologizing for them before he opens the burl wood humidor, claiming that they might be stale. He’s keeping some living large smokes in that box and, figuring I’ll be the judge of whether they’re dead or not, I light one up. It’s a beautiful draw.

Tommy has downloaded something like 18,000 songs and scans the computer menu. He comes across one by Timi Yuro doing I Can’t Stop Loving You, the Ray Charles song. As a kid growing up, I was often reminded by Philly deejays at WIBG, like Hy Lit and Joe Niagara, that Yuro had the greatest voice of any female singer. Bar none. The song gives me a quick flashback to the Summer of 1962, the greatest period ever for pop tunes. Even Billboard acknowledges that. I ask Tommy if he remembers Freddy Boom-Boom Cannon doing Palisades Park or Roses are Red by Bobby Vinton. Tommy was already in the service while I was chasing young 15 year-old ass.

Tommy, now 65 but still with a baby face, has this ingratiating way of talking about himself in the third person. And it’s pretty funny to listen to because Tommy gets dead serious sometimes when he’s talking about Tommy.

Although he used to be in the video end of the business, Tommy’s company now is Stardust Industries, which specializes in sexual grooming products. I ask Tommy if he’s got anything to trim your ass hairs. Apparently he does. He also has this herbal Viagra product called Stiffy. I’m very leery about the claims of these things and I’ve tried them all. None of them work. I’m introduced to Eyal Gayel who swears to me that Stiffy does what it’s advertised to do- that it makes your dick rise off the floor like Bobby Hollander.

Gayel’s working on some computer interactive sex programs with Tommy, and Tommy tells me Eyal was the Israeli equivalent of a Navy S.E.A.L. In other words a badass motherfucker. Gayel’s also missing his left hand- an obvious remnant from those badass motherfucker days. And, if I understood him correctly, Gayel, in another life, also opened the first sex shop in Israel in Tel Aviv. Gayel’s asking me what’s so funny as I’m thinking about a dildo called Exodus. I meet the rest of Tommy’s staff and he’s explaining how we go back.

I first met Tommy when Butchie Peraino, the then owner of Arrow Productions, was throwing an open house for his Cine Citta Studios, then located in the Valley. It was mid afternoon and the wind never had as many sheets thrown to it as Tommy carried in with him. For reasons known only to him, Tommy figured he was going to bust my balls and get in my face. It was a very awkward moment for me, because being an employee of AVN at the time, it was clearly against company policy to kill or maim anyone in the industry that represented potential advertising. I tried my best to stay clear of Tommy and managed for the most part, though rumors circulated that Tommy and I had had it out in the Cine Citta parking lot. I know because Christy Canyon, who was seeing Tommy at the time, called AVN the following morning under the impression that consequences resulted from my apparent tiff with Tommy Sinopoli since he had yet to come home.

But nothing actually happened. Although my best friend in the business, Jack Michaelson, still busts my balls over the incident, claiming that he was THIS close from sending a dozen roses over to AVN, signing them love, Tommy

The next time I ran into him, Tommy, with a hug, was very apologetic which was enough said. There were no roses.

Tommy’s also changed in other ways. He doesn’t mind telling his story now- as long as I tell it, he says. I suggest that it would be a great idea because the public- while it might appreciate a product that can shave its collective balls- could certainly relate to a face behind the product. Jerry, Tommy’s salesman would also love to get him on Wankus’ show on KSEX. I tell Tommy that would be another great idea- that he could shave some girl’s crotch and talk about the old days. Except the old days for Wankus is last month’s porn star karaoke at Sardos.

In a moment Wednesday afternoon which can only summon the movie, Goodfellas, Billy Batts telling Tommy DeVito, “Go home and get your fucking shine box,” Tommy talks about how keeps his shine box in the corner of his office- a tacit reminder of tough times as a kid. Asked how he got into the adult business, Tommy tells me about being a truck driver making deliveries to an adult store called The 200 Club. Tommy remembers people even back in those days shelling out $400 for sex books and magazines, how some people would buy gay publications and beard them with the straight stuff.

Tommy tells me how he used to deliver porn to Elvis when Elvis lived in Holmby Hills. Tommy then plays a little Jimmy Rosselli telling me how Sinatra pretty much had Rosselli, another Italian crooner, blackballed over an incident in which Rosselli apparently disrespected Sinatra’s mother. Tommy remembers an incident where Sinatra was talking about how everyone wanted to be Sinatra but all Sinatra ever wanted to be was his father. On the subject of family relationships, Tommy grows sad. He talks about his brother and how he wants to stomp his brother’s face and rip his eyeballs out. That’s because Tommy’s brother is dying on him.

Tommy then puts on something slow- the kind of song you used to grind against a girl to on the dance floor back in the Fifties and Sixties. He closes his eyes and hugs an imaginary woman, stroking her imaginary cheek.

“Tommy’s all about romance,” he says. “Tommy’s products are about romance.” Hey, shaving your nuts can be romantic, but you can appreciate this moment if you know Tommy Sinopoli.

I’m impressed when I summon up Charles Aznavour and Tommy knows exactly the song I’m referring to.

“Dance…in the old fashioned way,” Tommy begins singing, clinging to his imaginary woman.

Then for the finale, Tommy puts on Sinatra’s I Did It My Way. He gets up and leaves the room to take a piss.


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