DTLV reports on Frank Cullotta’s casino tour on the Las Vegas Strip where he provides insight to his former life in the Mafia.
Las Vegas’ reputation is built on a myth of showgirls and mobsters cavorting on a pile of $500 chips under neon signs—a myth fostered by such movies as Casino. Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film celebrated a genius who ran casinos for the mob, a thug who busted skulls for the mob and the hustler-turned-trophy wife who came between them. It illustrated the demise of an era that people still come to Vegas looking for, when the pit bosses knew your name and, if you weren’t lucky, the loan sharks did, too.
One way to rediscover this lost Vegas is through Frank Cullotta’s Casino tour, which revisits the story of Lefty, Tony and Geri in ways that only a guy who was actually there can. Cullotta was a mob enforcer and member of Tony Spilotro’s Hole in the Wall Gang in the ’70s; two decades later, he consulted on Nicholas Pileggi’s book Casino and appeared in the movie version (playing, of course, a hitman).
The nearly five-hour tour begins with a stroll through the Mob Museum, focusing on the Casino-related displays, such as Spilotro’s Black Book entry and photos of Rosenthal on the set of his TV show. During this part of the tour, mob historian Robert George Allen and former FBI Special Agent Dennis Arnoldy supply the backstory. Arnoldy helped bust Cullotta and his gang, thus a photo of Cullotta’s former Upper Crust restaurant on Maryland Parkway and a sketch of the floor plan, which led Arnoldy to share his own slightly slapstick narrative of the FBI planting bugs and cameras … and what happened once the crew found them.
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