WEDDED TO CRIME by Sandy Sadowsky


My Life in the Jewish Mafia
Email this review


 A good-time memoir of life on the fringes of the New York mob, by the widow of a crony of Meyer Lansky's. Sadowsky was a teenager from Brooklyn when, in 1959, she was introduced to Bernie Barton, the live-wire owner of a nightclub called The Velvet Room. Despite a 20-year age difference and rumors of Barton's past jail sentences and gangster connections, soon Sadowsky was seeing Barton every night. Their life together reads like a travelogue: a jaunt up to Harlem, where Barton ran a numbers joint; an appointment with his parole officer, who had to approve their wedding; a consultation with Barton's Spanish Harlem-based Santeria priest, who snorted cocaine, decapitated chickens, and gave business advice. Sadowsky and Barton delivered a suitcase of bearer bonds to Vatican bankers and spent a winter in Miami hanging out with the revered Lansky. They started a storefront ministry in Harlem, complete with a charismatic ``preacher,'' and made good money until the preacher got unruly. They went to the Ivory Coast, trying to set up a trade deal, but ended up getting thrown out of the country. Shortly after their son was born, Barton died of heart disease. After a period of mourning, Sadowsky got involved in several of his businesses, then endured a disastrous marriage to Chalky Lefkowitz, Barton's childhood best friend. Little Goodfellas-like ugliness mars Sadowsky's gangland spin, told with the help of novelist Gilmour (So Long, Daddy, 1983). Drug use, murder, jail sentences, money worries, and infidelity are glossed over in favor of clothes, parties, and criminal buddies with cute names like ``Hot Dog.'' A lively and engaging string of benign adventures, then, with none of the harsh bite of violent reality.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1992
ISBN: 0-399-13614-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992