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from "House of Mirrors"
...Arlyne's imagination was further piqued by the highly publicized exploits of Virginia Hill, the flamboyant red-headed girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel. During her heyday, Virginia refined and elevated the status of a gangster moll to that of national celebrity. One newspaper called her "the most successful woman in America." It is small wonder that young Arlyne Weiss could imagine no calling more exalted than that of mob girl.
The job description was vague. A mob girl had to be good-looking, since a lot of her time was spent serving as a "showpiece" on a gangster arms. She had to be trustworthy, since she was often called upon to run errands and deliver messages. This was particularly important during an era when federal investigators were aggressively developing expertise at wiretaps and the phones were becoming unsafe. She served as lover and confidante, a mistress cum geisha, whose tough-minded company provided relief from the demands of a hoodlum's often staunchly traditional home life. In exchange for these services, she received gifts, status and - as far as young Arlyne Weiss could discern from the exploits of her grandmother and the gossip column accounts of her idol, Virginia Hill - respect.
From the time she was about fourteen, Arlyne was an active seductress of the underworld and by the time she was twenty, she had slept with upward of fifty hoods from the Lower East Side. Some of these were Jewish racketeers from her tribal circle. During most of her adult life, however, she showed a marked preference for Italian men, who were technically off-limits, hence infinitely more desirable. Forever status conscious, she amassed a slate of conquests that included the notorious Bonnano hit man Tony Mirra and, briefly, Joe Colombo. But as Arlyne would learn in her more than thirty years in the underworld, living the mob girl ideal was a considerably tawdrier proposition than imagining it.
Far from the romanticized characters of story and film, wiseguys - as revealed through the eyes of Arlyne Brickman - are callous, shallow, vain, often homicidal narcissists who would rather spent time with one another than with a woman. On several occasions, Arlyne vowed to give up her promiscuous ways. In 1957, at the age of twenty-three, she married a furrier named Brickman. That union, however, was done in by his philandering and ultimate conviction for grand larceny. Left with a baby daughter and a restless spirit, Arlyne resumed her destructive pursuit of glamour and influence only to be raped and beaten by wiseguys she thought were her friends...
Copyright (c) 1997 by Teresa Carpenter