Sammy “The Bull” Gravano (@gravanothebull) is the host of the Our Thing podcast, former second-in-command of the Gambino organized-crime family who played a major role in prosecuting “Teflon Don” John Gotti, and subject of Peter Maas’ Underboss: Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s Story of Life in the Mafia. [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
What We Discuss with Sammy “The Bull” Gravano:
- How does someone growing up in a relatively “normal” family get involved in a life of crime?
- What compels someone entrenched in the comforts of the gangster lifestyle to reject it?
- How has the code by which the mafia lives changed over time?
- What kinds of people do you meet when you spend half a decade behind bars?
- How true does on-screen gangster life ring to reality?
- And much more…
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What does it take to bring down an organization that’s been eluding justice on the regular since its medieval origins and lucrative expansion to the New World? Just cross the wrong guy and find out.
The Gambino family found out thanks to today’s guest, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, once “Teflon Don” John Gotti’s second-in-command before being thrown under the proverbial bus and deciding to do a little throwing back in return. Join us on this two-part episode as we talk to Sammy about what turns someone into a mob underboss, and what compels them to turn their back on the lifestyle’s extravagances to tear it all down. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
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Miss our two-parter with former mobster Anthony S. Luciano? Get caught up by starting with episode 425: Anthony S. Luciano Raimondi | The Mob Enforcer Part One here!
Thanks, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano!
If you enjoyed this session with Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano’s Story of Life in the Mafia by Peter Maas | Amazon
- Our Thing Podcast
- Sammy “The Bull” Gravano | Website
- Sammy “The Bull” Gravano | Twitter
- Sammy “The Bull” Gravano | Instagram
- Sammy “The Bull” Gravano | Facebook
588: Sammy "The Bull" Gravano | Mafia Underboss Part Two
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to our sponsor Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky. For the next few weeks and the past few weeks for that matter, you've heard me talk about Glenfiddich, their highly recognizable stag icon, which is now on our show art, and the bold new body of work that aims to challenge the traditional notions commonly portrayed here in our culture, of what it means to be wealthy and live a life of riches. Glenfiddich believes that beyond the material, a life of wealth and riches is about family, community, values, and fulfilling work. These are the values that led Glenfiddich to become the world's leading single malt scotch whisky. And this week's guest Sammy "The Bull" kind of did a lot of these things backwards, you might say, although family is still in there just might not be what Glenfiddich had in mind when they say the family. Anyway, you'll find out more later on in the episode and more from our partners at Glenfiddich coming up later in the show.
[00:00:42] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:45] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Well, my advice, you want to be me, you want to make money, do what the f*ck you want. Shoot guys, rob guys, do whatever the f*ck you want. But I will tell you, I got 22 years of my life in prison. You're going to shoot one of your friends, maybe a best friend. They're going to shoot you. You're going to do ugly f*cking things. You're going to have the government on your back 24 hours a day, seven days a week until your ass is in prison. If that's what you want, you want to be me, go ahead. Enjoy. Do what the f*ck you want.
[00:01:18] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional arms dealer, tech mogul, or underworld figure — and that's what we're doing here today. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:44] If you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about the show — and I appreciate it when you do that — we now have episode starter packs. These have been a huge hit with y'all. These are collections of your favorite episodes, organized by popular topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started.
[00:02:06] Today, part two with Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. If you haven't heard part one yet, go back and listen to that. Part two, even more crazy tales from one of the mafias, well, most famous ex-hitman. I don't even know how you begin to sum up Sammy in one sort of catchphrase. So I'm not even going to try. This is the rest of our conversation. It's always crazy with Sammy. I've known him for a while. You're going to hear me tease him and him get really annoyed with me later on in this part of the episode.
[00:02:30] If you're wondering how I managed to book all of these great authors, thinkers, creators every single week, it's because of my network. I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. It's a non-gross, sort of non sleazy way, digging that well before you get thirsty. And by the way, most of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course, aside from the mafia hitman, of course, but come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:02:53] Now, here's part two with Sammy "The Bull."
[00:02:58] Is the extortion racket that you see in movies from the mafia authentic where you go to a business and you say, "Hey, give me 10 percent," or is that just some old thing?
[00:03:06] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No, these guys, I mean, who do that? I mean, listen, there was five families. So you're talking about maybe poor 4,000 made guys. God knows how many associates. So there's guys all over the place, some guys are real thugs or real idiots and do things like that. And I don't want to call them an idiot, but because they do that. But some people do that, some people don't. I find if you're going to threaten people and do this kind of sh*t, you're going to jail. Sooner or later, somebody's going to give you up.
[00:03:40] Jordan Harbinger: Everybody hates you.
[00:03:42] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Everybody hates you. And sooner or later, you're going to scare somebody to death and will kill you in front of your wife and kids. That was just this pinch on the Colombo family, and I heard it on the news, I read it in the paper, one guy wanted some of that money out of the union benefit fund or whatever. And he tells the guy, "You don't give me that money. I'll kill you in front of your wife and kids." Now, a guy, a legitimate guy may turn around, you may scare him personally. But when you involve in saying, "I'll kill you in front of your wife and your kids," that guy is going to the f*cking Feds in two seconds.
[00:04:16] Jordan Harbinger: For sure, yeah, absolutely.
[00:04:17] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You know what I mean? And you can't blame them. You know, don't call them a f*cking rat. You're a f*cking imbecile. You created that monster. So I never did that. You know, maybe as a kid, I was a thug a little bit, but that wasn't my mentality.
[00:04:31] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like small money too. Like you'd collect from 20 restaurants, who cares?
[00:04:34] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: One thing that really bothered me about that. I always remember my father being threatened with f*cking union guys.
[00:04:40] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.
[00:04:41] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And my father killed himself for us working f*cking not 40 hours a week, 60, 65 hours, and my mother too, sewing clothes as seamstress. You're going to go in there and threaten them?
[00:04:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:04:53] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: That always stuck in my head. So I said, "I'll never do that. Never."
[00:04:57] Jordan Harbinger: Did your wife know that you were a gangster? I mean, she must have had a clue, but how much does she know?
[00:05:01] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: She knew nothing because I told her nothing. But she had an uncle who was in the mafia, Band Joe. I think he was a captain and most of the time he was in prison. I never met him, but she knew a little bit coming from that neighborhood but I never discussed. I live two lives, one with my wife and my kids and one on the street. Now, they knew, they're not idiots, but they knew, but I never had any kind of conversation.
[00:05:26] And part of my thinking is that if it all caves in, they can go to my wife or my kids and they could legitimately say, "I don't know." So anytime she asked me a question, I told her, "No, I told you don't ask me questions. You can ask me questions about almost anything. Don't ask me questions about anything that happens." I told my wife right before the Castellano thing, "I'm going to go on the lam. I'm going to go somewhere." "Where?" "I can't tell you." "When are you coming back?" "I can't tell you. I may never come back. You'll be alright. Stay in the house. Eddie, our brother-in-law, will come and see you. Big Louie," who's a captain and he's very close with me, "He'll come around. You'll be okay. Don't believe anything you hear or see in a newspaper and don't ask no questions. Take care of the kids." And I gave her a hug and a kiss, and I walked out.
[00:06:25] That was my relationship with my wife. You want to talk about the kids. Who didn't go to school or this or that, or about life or whatever, we talk about that. You want to talk about parties, invite them or this or that, you know, but she understood. She just understood that I'm not going to answer questions.
[00:06:44] Jordan Harbinger: Did she grow up around all of this, so this is, or was this new?
[00:06:47] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: The whole neighborhood knew what was what.
[00:06:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:50] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I heard my wife one time had an argument with an assistant and say, "Well, we didn't know a lot of that. Come on. We used to go by the 19th hole. We always used to see those guys there. We know what it was, but we didn't know the facts, but we knew them. We seen them with their pinky rings and their suits and we knew their names and we know not to f*ck with them. Come on. But, of course, we didn't know the facts." You could say that. Of course, you really didn't but we knew what time it was.
[00:07:15] Jordan Harbinger: Especially if you grew up in a neighborhood, its body in a trunk, body in a trunk, body in the river, body in a trunk. It's obviously related.
[00:07:21] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: In the '70s at least — maybe I'll go back to the '60s — '60s, '70s, and '80s, I was like the wild west days. You know, a lot of times this is like, "Sammy," somebody says, "We found somebody in the trunk." "Really? Who was it?" They didn't even f*cking phase me. That's abnormal. "Oh God, who's that?" "Joe Blow." "Really? Shame, he wasn't a bad guy." And go right back to drinking coffee because you were numb to this. That's what happened?
[00:07:47] Jordan Harbinger: What do you think dad would say if he knew that you ended up, you know, the underboss of the Gambino family? I assume he wasn't around at that point.
[00:07:53] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No.
[00:07:54] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:07:54] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No. He was around when I got made and when I was an acting captain, but no, and he was older by that time. He was sick as well. So he never witnessed anything like that. Once or twice, he'll ask me. "What are you doing? Are you with them?" "No, no, no, no. Don't worry about it," period. The conversation will never go there.
[00:08:15] Jordan Harbinger: How would you react if your son was like, "Dad, I want to join. It looks amazing. I saw Goodfellas or whatever," or, he just said, "Hey, I want to make money. I know you make money. Tell me. Let's do this," what would you tell your son?
[00:08:25] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No, absolutely, no. I would never put my son into this life in any way, shape, or form. My answer would be no, I would tell him. People want me to talk to kids to talk to them and tell them, "Stay away, do not do this, do that." I tell, "F*ck that I'm not doing that." Here's what I tell them for advice.
[00:08:44] Well, my advice, "You want to be me, want to make money. Do what the f*ck you want. Shoot guys, rob guys, do whatever the f*ck you want. But I will tell you, I got 22 years of my life in prison. You're going to shoot one of your friends, maybe a best friend, they're going to shoot you. You're going to do ugly f*cking things. You're going to have the government on your back 24 hours a day, seven days a week until your ass is in. If that's what you want, want to be me, go ahead and enjoy it. Do what the f*ck you want." I'm not going to tell somebody. Don't do it. Don't do it. I'm telling you do what the f*ck you want. It's your life. You want to throw it away? Go ahead. And if you don't think I'd throw it away, watch when you go to prison where people tell you when to take a sh*t, when to eat, when to go to bed, when to get up. Watch how much you're going to enjoy that. But that's what you're going to enjoy.
[00:09:33] Jordan Harbinger: How many years were you in the life versus how many years you spent in prison? It's almost like 50-50, right? If you don't count the gang days when you were younger.
[00:09:40] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Probably.
[00:09:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:41] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Probably. Yeah, almost, maybe a little less, but 22 years of my life in prison. I did six and a half f*cking years in the hole starting my prison time. And I tell people, "Do that. Go in your bedroom in your house, bring a nice portable TV, feed you in your bedroom, do it for six weeks. Tell me how you feel. I did it for six and a half years." And it's not, I did it for six and a half years. There's a lot of f*cking guys who did that. So that's what you got to look forward to. Do it in your bedroom for six weeks. You or anybody go in your bedroom for six and a half weeks and don't come out, see if it don't drive you f*cking nuts after a while.
[00:10:21] So that's my advice to kids. You want to be me, go ahead, enjoy it. Enjoy what's about to happen in your life, but do it. I'm not going to tell you not to do it. You're not my kid do what the f*ck you want to do. If it's my kid, I would tell him the same thing. That's what you want. That's what's going to happen.
[00:10:39] Jordan Harbinger: If you had to do over, would you just get a construction job and just be like, "None of this violence, none of this mob sh*t for me," what do you think you'd do?
[00:10:46] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I don't know. It's Monday quarterback, that question.
[00:10:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:49] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I've been asked that a lot of times. There's a lot of things — anybody who says, "You wouldn't do something different," it's probably full of sh*t because everybody, no matter how legitimate, no matter how something, you may have an argument with your wife and you may say something and three months later, you may say to yourself, "I wish I didn't say that."
[00:11:13] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:11:13] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: "I was mad. I was pissed off."
[00:11:14] Jordan Harbinger: But this is bigger, this is a bit more of a choice of career path.
[00:11:17] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah, yeah, I really don't know.
[00:11:19] Jordan Harbinger: That's fair.
[00:11:20] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: The question, here's the question, if you weren't dyslexic, what would you do? I don't know. I know I have capabilities of learning. I'm not stupid. I'm just dyslexic. I gave a great example once. I give somebody a paragraph, it was in writing, print nice, beautiful. And I said, "Read that," and the person read it. "Yeah, I got it. I got it. Are you going to ask me?" "No, I'm not going to ask you nothing." I got a blank piece of paper and scribbled on it.
[00:11:47] Jordan Harbinger: Just draw lines on it.
[00:11:49] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Just drew lines, scribbling. And I said, "Read that." So they looked at me, he said, "I can't read that. It's scribbling." I said, "You see that? The thing you can't read. That's the one, this printed thing, that's what that looks like to me. That's being dyslexic." So the way you can't read that, I can't read this. Now, if you have an interest in that you should help people who have it. They do help people who—
[00:12:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's what my mom does. She's a special ed, was a special ed teacher.
[00:12:18] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Oh, really?
[00:12:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:18] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So that's great. But back in the day, you could ask your mom.
[00:12:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:22] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: They didn't know what the f*ck it was. They didn't do it.
[00:12:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, she was your age. They didn't—
[00:12:26] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No, they didn't have it. They didn't know what it was.
[00:12:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, they said, "These are the smart kids, and these are the dumb kids."
[00:12:31] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Right. You can get, instead of going from the second grade to the third, you can go right to the fourth, or you, I got left back in the fourth grade. It was humiliating. I got left back in the seventh grade again. School's done, finished, but I have a great memory for details and things when you're talking to me about things that happened 40 years ago. Maybe there's something about that. I could see something or hear something and I could remember it and I could learn.
[00:13:00] So you're not stupid, it's just that you have this disability in learning. It's a learning disability. And it's a shame. Of course, a lot of people have it. Now, it's out of the shadows and a lot of people know it and a lot of those people — and I find that some people tell me, "I'm dyslexic." "Really?" the guy's like a f*cking great artist.
[00:13:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, sure.
[00:13:22] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: F*cking great. So he's good in other areas of life. I don't know, but I think that's what hurt me right in the beginning.
[00:13:29] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, Richard Branson is dyslexic. You know who that is?
[00:13:31] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah. Yeah, a billionaire.
[00:13:33] Jordan Harbinger: There's a lot of famous dyslexic people.
[00:13:35] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah. There's a lot of them and they have that, they found a different way to learn.
[00:13:40] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly, yeah.
[00:13:41] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And if you can catch that early in life with your kids, whoever's listening to this, God knows what your kid could actually be, but he's going to be handicapped in certain areas, reading, numbers. You know, a three used to look like an eight, every time. I used to get it wrong. Everybody would laugh. There was a three. "What is that number?" "Eight." And everybody would laugh. After a while, they'd show me something that looked like a three to me. I was laughed at so many times. I would say an eight. Not that it looked like an eight, but I was wrong so many times. I kind of got it. This f*cking three is not a three. It's an eight. And I would say eight. "That's right, Sammy. That's very good."
[00:14:19] Jordan Harbinger: Start looking at Chinese then.
[00:14:20] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah, it is actually. And there's all different degrees of it. So mine was numbers, letters. I can read letters now, but after a while my eyes onto the second chapter or whatever it may be, everything is starting to get really blurry to me, I guess, and I put the book down and I've done all that time in prison. I read a lot in prison, a lot of stories, but I would read a chapter maybe or something, and then it'll get blurry and I put it back down. Then I do it. Sometimes I had to read it again to really get it.
[00:14:54] Jordan Harbinger: To let it sink in.
[00:14:56] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah.
[00:14:56] Jordan Harbinger: You mentioned that the people you killed, they broke the rules. What type of rules? You know, not kicking up money to the boss for example. What else?
[00:15:04] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: No, that's not a rule.
[00:15:05] Jordan Harbinger: It's not? That's just a cultural thing.
[00:15:07] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Well, it's not anything you're supposed to kick up. If you're greedy or selfish or you're supposed to kick up because in Cosa Nostra like a lot of people told me I was running the teamsters under John Gotti and he gave me 20 percent to run it. And he got 80 percent, but it belongs to the family and it belongs to the boss. So the agents asked me, "Didn't that bother you?" "No, why would it bother me? He owns this, his family and him, not me." So he gets 800,000 out of the million and I got 200,000. You think I should be mad at him that I was put in position, turn 200,000. It's nothing supposing you would — Trump's son-in-law, he puts you somewhere and you will make 500,000. He made 10 million, 20 million. Are you going to be mad or jealous? He gave you a f*cking position that you earn 500,000.
[00:16:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:16:05] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: If you are jealous or mad, then you're a jerk off. I'm not a jerk off. It was a good job. I made 200,000 a year and other powers that it gave me. So, no, I wasn't mad. So it all depends on how you look at things, I guess.
[00:16:21] Jordan Harbinger: The rules then that got people killed. You know, you mentioned you're killing people that you love, killing your friends. You know, they broke the rules, so they had to go. What kind of rules are we talking about?
[00:16:30] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You can't raise your hands to another friend of ours, another made guy.
[00:16:33] Jordan Harbinger: So no fighting. That's interesting. Okay.
[00:16:34] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You can't raise your hands. The first guy who threw a punch, the guy could defend himself and if he can kill you, he'll kill you. And if that don't happen and they know that you raised your hands for us to a friend of ours, then you could be killed for that. Going with somebody's wife or kids is the death penalty. Me and you are in the mafia. You're my brother. Your wife is my sister-in-law. Your kids are my nieces and nephews. That's the way we have to look at it.
[00:17:03] Now, if you violate that in any way, I don't care, if your wife is the biggest pig in the world and she's coming off to me, there's no excuse for this. I don't care what you have to be, man enough to walk away from that. And as a man, I understand men, we like women, but there's a limit. So you cross that line, you're supposed to get killed for that. So most of the time you can and you will. Sometimes you might be able to escape it for whatever reason, because every situation is different.
[00:17:31] Your daughter, I see your daughter in a bar. She doesn't know me, but I know who she is. She's drinking. She's maybe 18, 19. She's a little bit out of order. Maybe some guys are slobbering all around us. I come over, "Get the f*ck out of here." "No way." "Get the f*ck out of here. Go away," to the guy, and her, "Sweetheart. I'm going to make somebody take your home. You're a little drunk." "Who are you? My father's friend?" "Forget about who I am. That's good out of the bar. And you bartender, no more drinks for her. Stop." That's what I'm supposed to do because she's my niece. I value that.
[00:18:08] Now, your niece is 23. Now, she's really sexy and beautiful. Maybe she's a turn-on for me a little bit. I make that f*cking blunder and look at having that way. I could go and should go. So there's a lot of things. Then there's street things that come up, but there's violations in the mafia that deaths are penalty.
[00:18:30] Now we use each other, like we don't go looking for a guy and shooting them out. This is in a gang. You don't want to go, you broke the rules. I'm being given an order to whack you, take you out. Now, maybe Joe Blow is going to be the shooter, but me and you are friends, I'm going to be the guy to bring you into the speed or web, well, we're not Cowboys. We're going to make this hit real easy. You're going to come into this meaning with, "Hey," and Joe Blow is going to shoot you.
[00:18:55] Jordan Harbinger: But it's not a car bomb or not, burning my house.
[00:18:58] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And that's about a rule, we're not supposed to use car bombs. Like they do that in Italy and other places. We're against that because you can kill innocent people. We're not into that. We're worried about killing innocent people. We're worried about what we're supposed to be, men of honor. That's not very honorable. If I kill you and I kill a woman and a child who got in the car with you, or was buying the f*cking thing, we'll drive by shootings. Shoot him in a motherf*cking head. That's your target. Not some kid, not some woman. So there's rules of how we kill. And unfortunately, that's an order from the boss, and if you disrespect an order from the boss, you'll die.
[00:19:43] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Sammy "The Bull." We'll be right back.
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[00:20:37] This episode is also sponsored by LifeLock. If you think it's easy to spot a scam email, you might want to think again. Cybercriminals use spear phishing attacks that are more tailored and researched than normal scam phishing emails. These targeted attacks, focus on an individual and try to trick them into revealing personal information by posing as a trusted friend, boss company, family member. It's important to understand how cybercrime and identity theft are affecting our lives. Every day we put our information at risk on the Internet and in an instant, a cybercriminal could harm what's yours, your finances and your credit. Good thing, there's LifeLock. LifeLock helps detect a wide range of identity threats, like your social security number for sale on the dark web. If they detect your information has potentially been compromised, they'll send you an alert.
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[00:21:33] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers helps keep the show going. To learn more and get links to all those discount codes and all those deals you heard about, so you can check out the sponsors for yourself, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. We recently redid this page. Let me know if you have any issues with it. It should work well on mobile as well. jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:21:55] And don't forget, we have worksheets for many episodes. If you want some of the drills and exercises talked about during the show, those are all in one easy place. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:22:06] And now back to Sammy "The Bull."
[00:22:10] But you can't refuse an order at all, because then you're just as guilty of breaking a rule and then somebody else has to kill you too. And then that same person you were supposed to kill is dead anyway.
[00:22:19] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah, you can't stop the hit. You could go do, a boss is telling me to kill you. I could talk to the boss and say, "Please, let me talk to him. This is a situation. I grew up with him. What he did, I could talk to him, blah, blah, blah, and I could try to straighten this thing." If the boss tells me, "Sammy, no good. Take him out and use this guy or that guy. I don't care what you use. Get him out, take him out." He can even tell me to get rid of the body. He could tell me a lot of things, put him in a trunk, throw him in the street, and whatever the thing is. If I disobey his order, I go. And you're going anyway.
[00:22:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So it doesn't even — it's like, you might as well do it because if you like me, you can be like, "All right, I'm going to make sure he's dead. I'm going to make sure he's not drawn in his lung fluid or freaking—"
[00:23:04] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I'm going to make it fast for you. That's what I'm going to do.
[00:23:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:07] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: That's the way I can help you. Make it super f*cking fast. You won't even know what the f*ck hit you. If I had to die tomorrow morning, I would choose that way. Getting shot right in the f*cking head, especially with a decent size caliber gun, you wouldn't even know what hit you. You won't even know what hit you. It's the fastest way to die in my opinion. But what really gets to me in this thing is that as much as I like you, I love you but, you know the rules as well as I did. Look, what the f*ck you did. I mean, you know this. And I blame you because you knew I would probably be the schmuck that has to bring you in. And you felt like killing yourself, why don't you just go hang yourself some f*cking way? You know what this was going to bring. And that happens a lot, a guy would be sick, oh my God. How did he do this? He's doing this to himself.
[00:23:51] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:23:52] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: That's how we look at it. You did this to yourself, bro. It is not that I woke up this morning. I want to kill you. It's not that we don't kill for money. So it's not like I want to kill you and take over your business or take your money. It's to f*ck about your business or your money. You know, if we're friends, I hope you are rich. And I hope you are powerful because we are probably going to be helping each other that way. And that we do a lot. So there's no reason for the money or the greed. Some assholes will do that, but there's assholes in every f*cking walk of life, cops, politicians. There's all kinds of f*cking assholes in all walks of life. And the mafia is not excluded from that either.
[00:24:32] But if a guy is, you know, you're doing this for money, maybe you're out of your mind, then there's a line with killing. Some people in our life, where people like that, they cross the line to us, he became a serial killer. He's killing people, innocent people, for no f*cking reason now, or stupid reasons and we killed him.
[00:24:52] Jordan Harbinger: To show that's not—?
[00:24:53] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Because he became a serial killer, you don't deserve to f*cking live, whether you're made guy or not. We don't do things like that. If you're a child molester and you're a made guy, you're going to go if we find out. If you're a rapist, you should go. There's things that were questionable. And guys got just put on the back burner, not enough maybe to kill the guy, but put on the back burner. But a few are full-blown child molester or rapist or serial killer, we're going to kill you. That's not us. So, whether you're in our life or out of our life, we will kill you. If you're coming in our neighborhood you have those traits, we'll kill you because the neighborhood is our neighborhood and our people. We protect it.
[00:25:38] Jordan Harbinger: Did it bother you when you had to kill people or did you feel like stress or anxiety?
[00:25:42] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Absolutely.
[00:25:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:25:43] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And I said this in my podcast, I said this many times, I think a piece of me died on every one of those bodies, almost every one of those bodies. Some of them, I didn't really care. I'll be honest, but a good part of them, a piece of me died with every one of them. It's a scar on my body. I feel it. When I talk about it in my podcast, maybe I'm getting old, I actually become emotional. It almost brings me to tears. It just rips at me. It's like I open up that scar when I start talking about it and I become emotional, which I don't really want to. I'm not a person who normally cries. But it brings me close, maybe it's old age. I don't know what the f*ck it is, but those scars are buried. I opened them up when I talked about these things.
[00:26:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I understand that. I'm not going to make you go through that. I was just wondering, because some people will think, "Okay, well, you're a sociopath, you killed all these people and you don't even care." But it sounds like that's not the case.
[00:26:37] I know you think a lot, or you have to think a lot anyway, about planning a hit, how you're going to deal with it because it was your job for a long time. When you're planning, someone's murder, you know, what are you taking into consideration? Is it like, you got to have a way to get rid of the body for example, but what else is there that the average person might not think of? Make sure they don't suffer. That kind of thing.
[00:26:57] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: That's not my first thought is not make himself up, to be honest. Planning of a hit is that, when I get a hit on someone, everything in my life stops. I get blinders on. The only thing on my mind and the only thing I could say is you. I now start me searching in my own mind. What do you do every day? Where do you go every day? Who do you meet with? If you're married, you have a girlfriend on the snake. Do you have a gym that you go to every day? All of these things, I'm researching for the place that I'm going to kill you. I get other guys in different positions, crash car, backup shooters. So you're going to come in here. You'll have that door to run out. You have that door to run out, there's going to be people there. You can't get out. I'm going to make sure you can't get out. I have a start button, no stop button until you're dead. I don't think about business. I don't think about money. I don't think about family. I don't think about getting laid. I don't think about nothing, but you. The only thing that makes me stop thinking about you is when you're dead, the head is over. And I go back about, into my life. And his head is behind me.
[00:28:16] Jordan Harbinger: What's the timeline like if you get an assignment, is it like the guy's gone in three days, three weeks, three months or it's flexible?
[00:28:23] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I don't think there's any timeline. You got to hit. You got to take all the possibilities. I don't want to hurt any legitimate people in the process of doing, killing you. I mean, I'll give you an example. One guy, we were going to kill, hard to get. I made an appointment in a lawyer's office. I was going to meet him in the lawyer's office and be in a conference room, talking to him, just like I'm talking to you. Two, three guys would come in with ski masks, screaming to people, "Get down, get down," I'd get down, you'd get down. They'd blow your f*cking head off and leave me. I could stay there. The cops will come. "We were talking about business. F*ck, what do I know?" People came in with ski masks and they killed him. I don't know what happened." And that's what the people in the office would say. And we couldn't get him, so that's the only place we could have got him. So I was going to do it. I make sure you don't hurt the woman at the front desk and you don't hurt nobody, whatever.
[00:29:19] So when the guy came back, he said, "He's going to come. There's one problem." "What?" "He's going to come with his daughter who's a lawyer. So she's going to come with him to this meeting."
[00:29:28] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:29:29] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: "Good. Cancel the whole thing." And I canceled it. So that's what I do as a hit guy.
[00:29:35] Jordan Harbinger: Because you don't want to hit him in front of his daughter.
[00:29:37] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I'm not going to kill him in front of the hall or in front of her. That's not going to happen. That's off. So I will continue working on you in different ways. And that's what goes through the mind of a hit guy. So a jerk off, maybe I'll do it in front of the daughter. Maybe I'll shoot the daughter too. I don't know what he'll do, but a true hit guy plans a hit. Make sure it works properly and takes into consideration every option that could happen and how are you going to defend it.
[00:30:10] Cops come. There's a guy in a car with a license, a legitimate car. You're going with your car. Cops are right behind you, as soon as he can, he crashes into the cops and you can go. A black car, turned down a small block, that black car is waiting for him. He sees him, he sees the cops come and he goes right behind him, halfway down the block, he stops his car. He's having trouble with the car. The cops come out, "Move that car, move that car." "I can't move it. It stopped. It's stuck." And he's got his license. He's a legitimate guy. There's different things a hit guy will do. It's not only to kill the person. It's how he can't get away. It's how you're going to block and protect the shooters, whoever the shooters are.
[00:30:54] So a lot of people will say, "Are you a part of that hit? You didn't pull the trigger." "Of course, I didn't pull the trigger." It doesn't matter who pulls the f*cking trigger. Any moron can pull the trigger, but it's who plans the hit who makes the whole thing happen. Now, I might be the shooter. I might not be the shooter. In the Castellano, I wasn't the shooter but I planned the whole thing. They came to me to plan the whole thing.
[00:31:16] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a military operation.
[00:31:18] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yes. CIA, military, I don't care what kind. They have operations and they plan these things and do them. I would do that in my head in two seconds flat. Just like I said, I'm talking to you, I'm pointing to that door. I'm pointing to that door. Now, I'm talking to you. Of course, I don't mean anything by it, but in my mind, I'm planning this hit right now. If I want them to hit you, I could hit you. Zaza would come across with a shotgun, you're not even looking at her. She would shoot you. You don't expect it from her because she's a girl.
[00:31:51] Jordan Harbinger: I might expect it from her, but you're right. Your point is well taken. Yeah, this all makes sense. It's like a second nature. Is it something you still sort of think about, not killing people, but is it still like a background operation in your head after all these years?
[00:32:03] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: It's just a way of life for me. I got an apartment. When I get an apartment and where I'm going to live, I look at everything. I look at myself as the target and I go outside and I look, where would I take myself out from what, in my mind as being a hit guy. Yeah, I don't like that alley, or I don't like this. This should be lit or this is where I'm going to be watching, when I go walk out or get in or do this or that. I can't even get rid of that. That's in my head. Now, I do it subconsciously. Mainly, I don't purposely get up in the morning, I'm going to look at — it subconsciously I do it. When I go into a restaurant where I sit, subconsciously, I want to see what's coming in, what's happening. I don't sit with my back to a certain point. I immediately would tell my wife or you, I like to turn around and could I sit there and do this? Did I juggle a little when we walked in and sat?
[00:33:04] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, for dinner the other night? No, actually I was wondering if you were going to, but we sat on the other — wait, actually, I sat on the other side and you were like, "Oh, I'm going to sit in here." But some of that was a function of our director, not fitting into the table. No names mentioned. Some of that was statistics. Two of them were big enough. They couldn't fit in.
[00:33:25] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: But there's a little back room if you took notice in the back of that restaurant.
[00:33:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, there was.
[00:33:29] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And with a curtain over it, right? That's almost, it would be better to sit on that side to look at the front, right?
[00:33:35] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:33:36] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: But I don't know who's behind that curtain.
[00:33:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:33:38] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So I rather sit where I was sitting because I can see that curtain. If somebody or something was coming in, now you got to come through 50 people.
[00:33:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:33:46] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You don't think they'd be screaming this or that, whatever's f*cking going on. I wouldn't sit where I was sitting. Normally I sit there if there wasn't, but that curtain I'm not too crazy about that curtain.
[00:33:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There was a curtain there. That's interesting. I wondered if you were going to switch sides and you did actually. Yeah, that's funny. That's funny.
[00:34:01] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: We were talking about—
[00:34:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we did.
[00:34:03] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: We were trapped into a—
[00:34:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, we had a different logistical situation.
[00:34:08] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah. You got to make considerations for that. And once in a while, you got to drop the bomb, sit where you got to sit.
[00:34:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For people who are wondering what we're talking about, we sat with a couple of big guys at work, the table was attached to the wall and we had limited options of where we could sit. Otherwise we're going to have to have them pried out of there with the jaws of life after dinner, but they're good people. So we may do.
[00:34:31] All right, I'm going to skip some of the killing the boss, Paul Castellano, Gotti. That stuff that you cover in your podcast, which we'll link in the show notes. You've told those stories a million times.
[00:34:40] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Right.
[00:34:40] Jordan Harbinger: I'm not going to ask you that same stuff again.
[00:34:42] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Good.
[00:34:43] Jordan Harbinger: I am curious about the witness protection program because not many people have asked about that. What is that like? Obviously you testify. And they're like, okay, we got to hide you because somebody is going to come in and pop you.
[00:34:53] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I did it for eight months. I had a lot of money. I didn't want to go into it. I got a very short sentence, five years on the first time I was in prison. They were begging me to go in because the government would look bad if you don't go in, and come on, let us — I did eight months. I didn't like it at all. Some people like it. I didn't like it. You change your name. There's a million restrictions. You can't talk to anybody in the past, whether it's family, whether it's friends, whether it's anybody. That's just not my nature. I don't like that. There was eight million thousand rules. I didn't like any of that sh*t.
[00:35:27] I'm at a prison I understand. I only did five years, but I don't want to be told what to do and how to do it every f*cking minute of every day, where to go, who not to talk to. I'm a personable person. Believe it or not. I talked to every f*cking body. I don't like hiding. I might as well go into f*cking boonies somewhere in a nice little cabin and with a dog and go hunting and fishing. If you really want me to f*cking bunk in, I'll do that, but I'm not worried about dying, especially now at my age. I worry more about cancer, Coronavirus, or there's all these bullsh*t things when you get older. I'm not worried about dying with a gun. Like I said, it's probably the best way to go. And I don't think that's going to happen.
[00:36:10] I think the mafia right now understands what I'm doing. I'm on a f*cking podcast. I think half the world is listening to me. And I think that there's so many people who cooperated. There's so many tapes and FBI and NYPD, the organized crime strike force, everybody knows exactly what happened, what John did. All my life. I've been busted. I never cooperated. I didn't look at it as cooperating. And I walked away from him. I walked away from the life and I switched sides and did what I had to do and people knew it. So I don't think there's that many people who were mad at me.
[00:36:45] A lot of the murders that I was involved in, you know, a lot of people say I killed them all. I'm part of the murder. I didn't kill them all. And I never woke up in the morning wanting to kill somebody. It just wasn't my thing. I'm a little more friendly than that.
[00:37:02] So I don't even know what the f*ck I was answering or whatever.
[00:37:05] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I was just asking about the witness protection program. You answered the next question, which was, it was torture to hide and be away from everybody.
[00:37:12] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Family and everything, it's just—
[00:37:14] Jordan Harbinger: Because when Richard was like, "Hey, there's this guy you should have on your podcast, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano." I was like, "You're getting played, man. This guy's not just run around having dinner with us at Olive Garden. Like give me a break." And then I researched it and I was like, "Okay, maybe it seems like you left the WITSEC program, witness protection program." Because I just thought, "Oh, this guy," I'm like, "Richard, come on, man. Be smart. This is some like dude who put on a hat, sunglasses, and bought a pinky ring at a flea market. And is now telling you he's a mobster, like get smarter," but turns out, I was surprised to find that it was real. That's not a flea market pinky ring either.
[00:37:48] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Sammy "The Bull." We'll be right back.
[00:37:53] This episode is sponsored in part by Bambee. When running a business, HR issues can kill you. Wrongful termination suits, minimum wage requirements, labor regulations, and HR manager salaries are an average of $70,000 a year. Bambee, spelled B-A-M-B-E-E, was created specifically for small businesses. You can get a dedicated HR manager to craft that HR policy, maintain your compliance, all for just $99 a month. And with Bambee, you can change your HR from your biggest liability to your biggest strength. Your dedicated HR manager is available by phone, email, or real-time chat. From onboarding to terminations, they customize your policies to fit your business and help you manage your employees day-to-day all for just $99 a month, month to month. No hidden fees. Cancel anytime. You didn't start your business because you wanted to spend time on HR compliance. So let Bambee help get your free HR audit today.
[00:38:44] Jen Harbinger: Go to bambee.com/jordan right now to schedule your free HR audit. That's bambee.com/jordan, spelled bam-to the-B-E-E.com/jordan.
[00:38:54] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online therapy. Y'all know I am a huge proponent of therapy. It's helped me tremendously during pivotal times in my life, including when Jen and I decided to move in together many years ago. One way to think about therapy can be through analogies. In my case, bad analogies. We get our cars service to prevent bigger issues down the road. We work out and visit the doctor to prevent injury and disease in our bodies. We see the dentist for our teeth or to prevent cavities and other issues or to tell us to floss and then never do it. Going to therapy is like all of the above. It's routine maintenance for your mental and emotional wellness. Going to therapy doesn't mean something is wrong with you. It doesn't mean you're broken. It just means you are investing in yourself to keep your mind healthy. It's like flossing, only you should actually do it. Better Help his customized online therapy that offers video, phone, even live chat sessions with your therapist. You don't have to see anyone on camera — and let's admit it. Who does? So if you don't want to, you're all good. Just chat and phone. It's much more affordable than in-person therapy. You can start communicating with your therapist in under 48 hours. Why invest in everything else and not your mind?
[00:39:54] Jen Harbinger: Our listeners get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's B-E-T-T-E-R-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:40:03] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich breaks from the single malt scotch whisky norm, and helps redefine what it means to be rich. It's so easy these days to get bogged down in material success, especially — and you've heard me say this before, but the currency of the new rich, that's you, if you're listening, is getting more time and enjoyment out of what we already have. And if you're paying attention to this episode, you'll know that Sammy "The Bull" agrees with me on this as well. He spent a lot of his time in prison, joining the family and killing his friends, and wasting all that money and time with strange women. Sounds great when you're 25, 35, not so great when you're in a supermax. Glenfiddich is the sixth generation. That's 130-plus years, independent family run business. It's one of the few single malt distilleries to remain entirely family owned and is still produced in the same distillery, which William Grant and his children hand-built. And despite the common belief at the time that it would never even work, Glenfiddich was the first company in the sixties to export single malt scotch whisky, and basically rebrand it outside of Scotland, effectively creating the entire global category. So it's no wonder Glenfiddich is the number one selling single malt scotch in the world.
[00:41:08] Jen Harbinger: Skillfully crafted, enjoy responsibly. Glenfiddich 2021 imported by William Grant and Sons Inc. New York, New York.
[00:41:15] Jordan Harbinger: And now for the rest of my conversation with Sammy "The Bull."
[00:41:20] By the way, did you get plastic surgery in the witness protection program?
[00:41:24] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I had always been this beautiful, brother.
[00:41:25] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Because I've heard, because I heard Diane Sawyer said like, "Ooh, you got a disguise." And I was like, "Disguise? He looks the same." The difference is you don't have a hair. Other than that—
[00:41:35] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Yeah.
[00:41:35] Jordan Harbinger: You know, you're a little older, but like you can — I mean, people recognize you everywhere we go.
[00:41:39] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You know what happened? Last night after we ate, I went with the guy Vito and I stopped. I was going to get a pack of cigarettes. I go in and there's this big guy. He starts talking to me, "Your podcasts and your videos are f*cking great." "Oh," so we shake hands, right? Vito's looking. And then he goes before me, and then I go. And then, these two Indians, a guy and a younger girl. I guess it's his daughter. It looked a lot, maybe it's his girlfriend, who the f*ck knows. But anyway, he says—
[00:42:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you want to make that mistake.
[00:42:11] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: "Yo, 'The Bull.'"
[00:42:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:13] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So I said, "What?" "You're 'The Bull,' you're Sammy 'The Bull,' right?" He grabbed me, hugged me, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and his daughter was there and she's shaking my hand. So Vito, when I went out, he says, "What the f*ck was that all about?"
[00:42:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:26] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: "I think they recognize me, bro."
[00:42:28] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. Yeah, they knew you.
[00:42:29] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: "Does that happen a lot?" I said, "Yeah, listen, I don't look like when I was younger. I aged a lot and aged a little f*cked up, you know, I got sick in prison. But now with this podcast and everything that's going on, I'm being recognized a lot." The best was when I was with my ex-wife, we went to dinner. Another Indian couple, the woman is looking at me, looking at me, looking at me. "I think that woman is looking at you." So I looked, I said, "You're not going to like this." "Why?" "I've been dating. I can't believe she's f*cking following me right in the john." My wife went nuts but she knows I've been—
[00:43:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[00:43:09] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So she started laughing. Yeah. Yeah. Sure enough. The woman got up, she was Indian, a native American-Indian.
[00:43:15] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay.
[00:43:15] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: And she's listening to my podcast too, her and her family. And the rest of the people sitting at the table, waving to me. It's crazy. But I'm being spotted here and there.
[00:43:24] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it definitely happens—
[00:43:25] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: In a positive way.
[00:43:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:27] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: People are liking what I'm doing. I'm sure some people may not like the interview. They might not like me. The interview is great. You're good. But some people are like, oh, you know this interview and stuff like that, maybe some are likely, some won't. I don't know.
[00:43:42] Jordan Harbinger: How did you get the nickname Sammy "The Bull." I should have covered that in the beginning, but since you bring it up.
[00:43:46] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So my mother and father bought me a bike. They were broke back then it was a big deal to get a bike. It was a Schwinn. I had to take care of it. F*cking pros, day out, somebody stole it. When I went in there. Two days later or whatever it was, my friends come run into me, "Sammy, the bike, your bike is down the block." That's the bull story, I go running down there. The bar is right across the street with wise guys hanging out. And so I grabbed the bike. These kids were older than me, bigger than me and they tried to get it away from me. And I wouldn't give it up. And I started a fight. I was fighting the two of them. I was crying. I was getting beat up a little bit, but I was fighting like a bastard.
[00:44:28] One of them guys from across the street walked over, "Hey, come here. What's your name?" "Sammy." He says, "Is your father, Gerry and Kay, mother and father?" "Yeah." He chased these kids who robbed the bike. "Is this your bike? Go get your father and bring him here," but they couldn't bring their father there. They stole the f*cking bike. So anyway, they chased those kids. Another guy from across the street yelled at him, "What's going on?" He said, "No. This kid, Sammy, you see him? His father and mother, Gerry and Kay, from up the block." "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know them. What happened?" "Nothing. He was fighting these f*cking kids. You see the way he was fighting. He's like a little f*cking bull." That name stuck my whole life. I hated it when I first got it because my friends would tease me, Sammy "The Bull." They put their fingers on their head like I had horns joking and I hated it.
[00:45:16] Cops, when I got in a gang, will come look for me, "Where's Sammy 'The Bull'?" So that name just stuck to everybody, no matter who the f*ck it was, whether it was law enforcement, people in the street, friends and whatever. That's how I got the name. And it stuck, I mean, then the newspapers got it. It never stopped. Now, I'm stuck with it. So you know, it's part of myself.
[00:45:38] Jordan Harbinger: It's not a bad nickname. I mean, it's better than Jimmy "The Weasel." That's a sh*tty nickname.
[00:45:42] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Or Frankie Frankenstein.
[00:45:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's bad too. That's not original and lame. Another good nickname though, is, the chin, because then you touch your chin and you make the C and then you don't have to say his name. That's clever, right? That's pretty clever.
[00:45:56] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: See what I'm doing right now? That he wants to see you. That's all I got to do. That guy wants to see it.
[00:46:01] Jordan Harbinger: So if there's tapes or whatever, it's just nobody has a clue.
[00:46:03] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Nobody's on tape. Nobody has a clue who you want to go see and whatever.
[00:46:07] Jordan Harbinger: That's pretty brilliant. So this is a little more obvious, like bull wants to see you. That's a little — now there's video, so it doesn't make — yeah, it's a little bit weird now.
[00:46:18] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I had a little nickname to be a little cautious was the little guy. There's a lot of guys who are little. So the little guy wants to see.
[00:46:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that could be—
[00:46:26] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I didn't enforce it like chin did. You know, some people said it. If you're on the phone, everybody was afraid of phones, bugs, so if you're on the phone, but nobody actually called me the little guy.
[00:46:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So Vinny the Chin — what was it? Vinny "The Chin" Gigante.
[00:46:43] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Gigante.
[00:46:43] Jordan Harbinger: Gigante, yeah. People can Google that. We'll link that up in the show notes as well.
[00:46:48] This is an interesting little take here that nobody's talked to you about so far from what I can see. You said one day you saw David Koresh, the Waco cult in Texas or the Branch Davidian. And you said, "How can people get so brainwashed that they joined this cult?" And then you said you looked in the mirror and you realize maybe that you had also been a little bit brainwashed yourself. What do you mean by that?
[00:47:11] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Well, I think it's self-explanatory, but I'll explain it this way. When I was in the military and I was training to go to Vietnam and fight, I was being trained to kill. And the government told me, "They're communists. They'll come into this country, they're going to rape your mother, your sisters. They're going to take over." Isn't that brainwashing by my government? And I bought it, lock, stock, and barrel. And if I would have went to Vietnam, I probably would have killed people. And through the years I look back or think back and say, "Now, I never met a bad Vietnamese person, man or a woman. The woman, they do nails, cut your toenails, your fingernails. They all seem very sociable, sweet, nice. What the f*ck happened, told them communists and Vietnamese people were going to come and do all those things? I don't think it ever happened, but we fought that f*cking war for a long, long time, did a lot of f*cked up things. We were brainwashed. The same thing with David Koresh, the people were brainwashed. The mafia has a way of — when you look at it and look up to it, you can call it brainwashing as well.
[00:48:25] Jordan Harbinger: How did your parents get to the United States? Do you know?
[00:48:28] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: My father was an illegal alien. He jumped ship in Canada and crossed the border. And I think he was in the country 30 some-odd years before he became a citizen. And my mother came as — she was born there, but she came as an infant. So, I'm not sure if she came in a suitcase. So she came with somebody and then automatically you a citizen, but she spoke perfect English. She was, you know, most of her life, she was here, almost all of it.
[00:48:55] Jordan Harbinger: What do you think of these like gangster-want-to-be kids who think that the mafia is so cool? It's romantic. It's so badass. For me, it's a little weird that adults and kids are obsessed with this stuff. I get that there's history, but I feel like there's a lot of weird guys that romanticize the whole thing and have kind of an immature and naive view of what that life was.
[00:49:13] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I don't know. I think it depends on what area you come out of. You get people that come out of ghettos. I mean, they've lived in a rough neighborhood. They grow up a certain way, seeing certain things, a drug dealer, a pimp, or this or that, the other thing. And it has effects on people. Why do you go to Montana? Why does every f*cking kid in Montana goes to college? Because they all go to college. So when they go to the mall or wherever the f*ck they go, they go along with their environment.
[00:49:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay, I see.
[00:49:47] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So the same thing, if you take somebody in a undeveloped neighborhood or a ghetto or a tough neighborhood, mafia had went out of ghetto, but bodies all over the place, like you said before, you might as well call it a ghetto. And you, growing up with that, that has an impact on your life. Nobody grows up believing mommy and daddy's the best, they know every f*cking thing. Everybody thinks their mothers and fathers are wrong. And sometimes they are, sometimes they tell the daughter, don't do this, this, this, and this. They could be a hundred percent right. Or it could be a hundred percent wrong. You can't be mad at them because their intention is to help you.
[00:50:28] That's society today and that's what's going on, but that's why in Montana, they all grow up. Go into a mall. All kids are going to college. If you don't go to college, you're like a misfit. In Brooklyn, New York, where I grew up, if you went to college, you were a misfit. Why don't you stay in the street? The girls love us. They love bad boys, bro. Even now I'm a bad boy, I get a lot of girls or women sending me messages. They love bad boys.
[00:50:57] Jordan Harbinger: Like women, your age, like young women online.
[00:51:01] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Listen, I'm not prejudice, both, I take them all, bro.
[00:51:04] Jordan Harbinger: I know.
[00:51:04] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You already know that.
[00:51:05] Jordan Harbinger: We need to hold you back from the waitress every time we go out.
[00:51:09] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I'm flirting with the waitress. I do that all the time.
[00:51:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:11] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: So I tell some of them, the young ones, "Take it easy," Bro, I'm f*cking 96 years old. "If the mafia couldn't kill me, one night with you, I think I'll be dead. Take it easy." So that's about it.
[00:51:25] Jordan Harbinger: I know you got documentaries coming out. You got the podcast. We're going to link to a bunch of that stuff in the show notes, but how can people get ahold of you? The website and everything will be linked in the show notes. What are you working on right now that you're excited about?
[00:51:35] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: I have a website that we've just designed. It took us five or six weeks. Usually it takes months to put together what we put together. There's a few niches in it that we're working on every day. They're straightening it out. It's sammythebull.com and we're working on everything. There's different platforms within it. One platform is my podcast. One platform is my videos. One platform is going to be the Bullpen.
[00:52:05] Let me explain the Bullpen a little bit. It's going to be the way the mafia and myself look at everything, society, all the things we've just been talking about. We're going to have a sports channel in it, eventually — I'm working, it's not out yet, but we're working on that. I'm even working one — it almost compares with like Netflix type of thing. It's not that big, but the idea here is that we're going to have different things where you could see videos, stuff like that. We're trying to set up this platform. We're not trying. We have it about 90 percent. It's open already, but there's the little kink here and there.
[00:52:46] We have a place shop where you can go to see the things that we sell, cups, artwork, all kinds of different things. As you know already, I got about 412,000 subscribers. We have 54 million views—
[00:53:03] Jordan Harbinger: On YouTube, yeah.
[00:53:04] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: —On YouTube and we're on a few channels. So, that's what I'm working on. Plus I'm working with some heavyweight people in Hollywood now. They want to do my life story. It's a story of my life from start to finish. Something like the Sopranos, but more truthful. Not that they lie. You know, Sopranos was based on 10 or 15 percent truth. There was a family in Jersey, 85 percent was Hollywood. I call it bullsh*t. I want mine reversed 80, 85 percent truth and you can't stop 10, 15 percent Hollywood that they make a movie. So I'm working on that. So I'm working on a bunch of things.
[00:53:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, it's been fun, man. It's been really interesting. I know you've told fragments of these stories at dinners and stuff like that, but it's good to be able to sit down and get a lot more of it out.
[00:53:55] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Right. And we met, this is the second time.
[00:53:57] Jordan Harbinger: This is I think the third time, maybe.
[00:53:59] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Maybe the third time.
[00:54:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I don't know. It's hard to remember.
[00:54:01] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: You're a good guy. And you're a good interviewer. I was just telling them when you went to take a piss, that he's a good interview. You are—
[00:54:07] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you, man.
[00:54:07] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: —a good interviewer. It was my pleasure. And you know the big bodyguard. I asked him before, "Do you have a gun that you're watching him all the time?"
[00:54:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:54:14] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: He said, "No." I said, "But Zaza has got a gun." "Sure, you're the Bull."
[00:54:18] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. Yeah, I brought my friend Caleb Bacon in the studio. I know better than to show up to a meeting alone. I think you may have taught me that. Never show up alone.
[00:54:27] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: Always be with someone.
[00:54:29] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you very much.
[00:54:30] Sammy "The Bull" Gravano: All right, bro. Take care.
[00:54:33] Jordan Harbinger: If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, here's a trailer for another episode that I think you might enjoy. Anthony Luciano Raimondi was born into the world of organized crime, spent much of his life as a mob enforcer, and played a part in heists and assassinations, allegedly. Here's a preview of my conversation with a former Italian mob enforcer.
[00:54:55] Anthony Raimondi: So I'm in the club and I put many envelopes together. This guy walks in. So I get up, I say, "Excuse me. Can I help you?" "Yeah, I want to talk to you." He pulled out his gun. I still got the first scar right over here. This guy beat me so bad, I don't even know how I made it back downtown. I was crawling out of the place. Literally, I was crawling out of the place. And I remember him saying, "You just come back here. Your mother is going to have a closed coffin for you. I'm going to blow your f*cking head off. I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that."
[00:55:20] PS, my cousin takes you out from the hospital about five, six days later. They told me who this guy was. I went to see Joey D. We went to the basement, all weapons. His family was gun runners. I mean, if you want a B-52 bomb, hit them. They're there for you in three days. They'll have it at your doorstep. I mean, they have bazooka, they have hand grenades. I mean, they have stuff like you'd never saw. He goes, "Pick out something."
[00:55:41] I take off with my cousin's car and I drive to Third Avenue. And I parked right in front of the place, there's parking space. I got the gun on my waistband. I got to go in and Dukie the bartender sees me. He goes, "What are you doing here?" I say, "Don't worry about this. I want to talk to him." I figured out he would really talk to me. When I walked through and I turned around, I see him. He had his back to me and he was talking to this girl Karen. I'll never forget Karen.
[00:56:04] The music was down and I hear would tell him, she says, "Anthony's behind you." For whatever the reason before she'd say I had this gun in my hand. This guy gets up. "Why did I tell you? You dirty mother f*cker. Your mother is going to have a closed coffin. I'm going to blow your f*cking head." He opened his jacket and I seen the gun in his waistband. He puts his hand on it. I just picked up my hand like this and emptied the whole clip into him.
[00:56:23] Joe Colombo goes, "Give him a drink." He gives me a 7 and 7. He goes, "Look at this kid. He just kills somebody and he's sitting there calm as a cucumber.
[00:56:31] Jordan Harbinger: For more with former Italian mob enforcer, Anthony Raimondi including the many creative ways mobsters have gotten rid of bodies over the years, check out episode 425on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:56:44] So this was quite the marathon. Sammy got a little tired at the end. He and I go back a few years. So I've really thank him for being way more open on this than he was with literally anyone else. There's a lot of stuff he talked about with me, both on the show and outside the show that he just doesn't share a lot. So this is kind of a treat, an interesting inside look and some of the mafia beefs, I got to say, the stuff you heard on the show and some of the stuff you didn't, it just sounds like high school. It's like these guys use ice picks instead of spitballs. But a lot of it is, you know, "This guy disrespected me," but it's like, you know, he was drunk at the time. It was just silly. It just shows you how cheap life is in that culture.
[00:57:17] And he got a great deal from the judge, from the prosecutor, the justice department, five years for a man who confessed to 19 murders. Now you might say, "What the hell is wrong with our justice system?" That shows you that his testimony was so valuable that they realized that this was a deal that they could and should give him. Unbelievable.
[00:57:37] After the show we went to dinner and I asked him if he kept any of the money That he had made from his past life. And he told me that almost nobody does. They never really keep anything. They never really save anything anyway. It's about being showy and blowing a lot of the money. And a lot of the rackets that they run, they're profitable, but it's not like then you launder the money and you turn it into a nice retirement savings that you just blow it on stuff. And since a lot of it is dark money, you can't do much with it anyway. And if you go get locked up, sometimes it'll get stolen by people that you know. It's not a great living after you get locked up. You're not coming out to a nice cushy retirement plan.
[00:58:12] He also said that he never bribed cops and judges. He always paid his end of the deal, even if he could get away with shafting somebody. And I asked him why, and he said that reputation was important and it paid to be known as a so-called honest crook. You want people to be able to do jobs with you, go into business with you and not worry that you're going to stab them in the back. He also admitted that he did threaten and bribe jurors in cases, but he never actually bribed cops or judges. When he got out of prison, Sammy said he didn't even know how to interact with the world because of technology. And he made a kind of a funny observation. He said, "When I went in, if you talked to the TV, people thought you were crazy. Now you have to talk to the TV to get Alexa or to search Netflix," which, I mean, touché, pretty accurate. I would say even me as a tech savvy, 41-year-old, I'm like, I just use the remote. I don't talk to the TV. I'm sure that my kids are — or even in a few years, everyone else will be doing that. It is weird to talk to an appliance. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with it.
[00:59:14] Sammy also said that he looks at the government as almost different crime families. Now I'm not so sure this is a developed outlook on things, but the system in his opinion is unfair. And he said, "If it's a fair system, maybe it wouldn't make people like me." Now, every system has its imperfections. And I think we heard a lot about that here on the show today. But all we can do is strive to be the best that we can. And I would say that most of y'all listening probably agree that we as a society, as a country, or just as a global society, we certainly have a long way to go.
[00:59:42] For those of you wondering, "What happened in the mafia code?" Adam Corolla, he had an interview with Sammy and he said something — very Adam Carolla, but also sums it up quite nicely. He says, "The mafia code used to be like how people dressed up nicely to go on airlines. And now it's just flip-flops and sweatpants. That's what happened to the mafia code." And Sammy pretty much agreed with that sentiment, I think. You know, it used to be this thing where you would die if you said anything and people got popped for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person or to anyone. Now, it's, write a book about it. Sammy, of course, had already flipped on John Gotti, gotten in and out of witness protection. There's no code left and there's no reason to be quiet about it. In fact, this is the only way, probably, that he can make a living.
[01:00:25] Speaking of witness protection, I asked them how they pick where they put you. And he's not a hundred percent sure, and of course, the FBI probably doesn't go and tell you what criteria they're using, but they look for a place that doesn't have a lot of mafia running around, at least not the same organized crime groups that you used to be a part of. They don't want you to get spotted. They don't want anybody to get suspicious of anything. They do have you lay low, but Sammy sticks out, you might say. Now, he's out of WITSEC now. You know he left the program, but he sticks out. We go out to eat and older people, they know something is up and he's such a character that pretty much everybody knows something is up, but they can't quite decide what it is. But older folks will come up and say, "You know who you look like?" or they'll look over and they'll do a double-take and then they'll do a triple take. And then they'll get kind of uncomfortable sometimes, especially if they're from the east coast where they probably know Sammy and they go, "That guy looks — oh gosh, that's the guy." We have that a lot when we go out to eat, it's like they know who we are or they have a clue anyway. And he's very friendly and outgoing and gregarious now. But I think when you know who he is, it makes you a little uncomfortable if you're sitting there with your wife and kids, which I totally understand.
[01:01:33] The mafia of course is less violent — the Italian mafia anyway is less violent now. Sammy thinks this is smart. I asked him why. He says, "Because the FBI isn't chasing them as hard. There's less heat on them and they can get into more legitimate businesses without as much distraction." So this conversational thread came out of the idea that — I asked him. I said, there's a lot of these young guys who think the mafia is so cool and it's easy money. And we poked a lot of holes in that, in the show and the episodes that you just heard. But the idea that some of the top mafia guys would say, "Hey, it's smart to get into legitimate business." It tells you everything you need to know about illegitimate business in the mafia, right? If they're thinking the highest level is to have a legitimate business so that there's not heat on you and you don't have to murder your best friend or get murdered by your best friend, the idea here is to go into a freaking legitimate business.
[01:02:21] Now, when the mafia started, a lot of times, Italians couldn't get hired for much, and it became a corrupt influence on the whole society. We're better off without this type of organized crime and Sammy agrees. And some of you have asked me in the past, "Does the mafia stay away from drugs?" I actually had that same question. I saw that in The Godfather, in an interview in the nineties, I think with Diane Sawyer, she said, "I heard the mob stays away from drugs." Sammy said, "It's BS." He said, "Guys, we'll do just about anything to make money, no matter who it hurts." This is one reason why Sammy would never recommend anyone make a life out of organized crime.
[01:02:53] Last but not least, I asked him about celebrity prisoners in ADX because he was in that supermax prison with Robert Hanson, the FBI agent who gave secrets to the Russians for so many years that guy's never getting out. The Unabomber is in there, I think. And he said, "It's so lonely in there." We talk about prison a lot at our dinners and it's a common theme for him. He spent over a quarter of his life behind bars. He said that it gets so lonely in there that he would start talking to the guards. And they're not really supposed to socialize with you, but they feel bad and sometimes they're bored too. And he said, one time a female guard reached through the bars to give him something and he grabbed her so hard. And he was like, "Don't go, don't go." And she said, "Sammy, you got to let me go. You're going to get in trouble. I don't want to have to write this up." And he just sort of — I won't say broke down, but you know, had a long pause and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." And she said, "I know, I know." That gives you an idea of how lonely it is in prison when these ice cold killers just will grab any human contact that they can. You never see anyone. He always tells us that when we're out for dinner, he goes, "You never see anyone in there. You see a guard occasionally. You never talk to the other prisoners. You never see anyone. You never talked to anyone." It's the worst thing he can imagine. It's the worst thing he's ever been through. It's the worst thing in the world. So if that's not incentive enough to stay away from the mafia, I don't know what is.
[01:04:09] Be sure to check out Sammy's podcast. It's called the Our Thing podcast. We'll link to it in the show notes. Please use our website links if you buy anything from guests. Those do help support the show books, especially. Worksheets for the episodes are in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:04:33] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, the course is free. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you'll find it. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests you hear on the show, subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:04:52] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into the mafia stuff, definitely share this episode with them. I hope you find something great in every episode of the show. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show — okay, maybe not the hitman stuff, maybe not the bribing, the jury stuff, but a lot of the other stuff you can apply safely — so you can live what you listen and we'll see you next time.
[01:05:30] By the way, you can also listen to The Jordan Harbinger Show on the Stitcher app. This app will make the old way of downloading podcast episodes seem so clumsy and inconvenient. Stitcher is one of the OG podcast apps. They've been working on it a bunch. You know, they work with SiriusXM radio now. And if you know my history, you know I worked there for a long time back in the day like 10-plus years ago now. Unbelievable. Anyway, Stitcher app is a cleaner and more organized way to listen to podcasts. And you'll find it to be a powerful app packed with features. You can download Stitcher in the App Store on your phone or at stitcherapp.com/jordan.
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