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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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"It was a real moneymaker. I got a piece of the action of every blowjob that my friends got," Galeota says. "I couldn't take all the people who wanted to come."
He was soon promoted from DJing weddings to robbing delivery trucks for the Paccione clan (which federal court records tie to the infamous Gambino crime family). The charismatic teenager sold the stolen suits or electronics at strip clubs or used-car lots.
Galeota already lived according to a gangster's code. He was a loan shark: generously offering money but punishing those who didn't pay back. When his younger brother was molested, he beat the suspected perpetrator to a pulp. And when his mother was distraught over a broken washing machine, he filled the house with new appliances.
"My family didn't care; they took it," Galeota says of the stolen goods. When his dad lost his job, Tony paid the bills. "I was always looking for their approval," he says, "but I never got that."
Instead, he found another, tighter-knit family: the mob. They taught him the rules, the most important of which Galeota took to heart: "You can have your girlfriends on the side," he remembers hearing, "but never leave your wife."
The lessons in crime didn't come fast enough for Galeota to stay out of trouble. By the time he was 18, he had been arrested seven times for armed robbery and assault, he says. (A New York Police Department spokesman says records from that far back aren't available.) Because of his age, he escaped with six months' probation.
The young mobster needed to lay low, so the Pacciones sent him south to a strip club called the Porthole Pub in Pompano Beach. It was 1990, and Galeota transformed the place by wiring in subwoofers and bringing in New York dancers. Nobody was impressed more than Kristy Sharpe, an 18-year-old waitress from Orlando with blond hair, blue eyes, and lightly freckled skin.
"He had that guido effect on me," she says. "He was a smooth-talker. He could convince you that the sky was green." Kristy was a self-described "firecracker" who had also escaped from an abusive home and wanted attention.
"We just meshed," she says. "Like me, he was a black sheep who could do nothing right."
He and Kristy struck up an unlikely romance. It continued at another local strip club, called Quarterbacks Playmates Lounge. But their courtship was cut short. On a Sunday night in July of 1991, a 29-year-old electrician named Phillip John Shea came into Quarterbacks shortly after Tony and Kristy left. When the bartender told Shea it was last call, he became enraged. He left, but returned with a gun.
Shea fatally blasted bouncer Richard Jimenez in the face and then opened fire on the dancers, shooting one in the chest and another in the head. The bartender hid in the bathroom and dialed 911. As Shea tried to pull the panties off one of the dancers, he heard police sirens in the distance and bolted. He turned himself in a few days later, but the lounge's owner decided to close the cursed club. Tony and Kristy were shocked — and out of a job.
Again, Tony's friends in New York told him where to go. "They knew some Russian guy named Tarzan who had just opened up a club in Miami called Porky's. He needed some help," he recalls.
As the couple drove south on I-95, they thought they were leaving the worst behind them. Indeed, Tony would turn Porky's into a moneymaking machine.
But bloodshed would follow them to Miami.
It was a weeknight, and Porky's was washed in pale-pink neon light. A deep bass line rattled customers' chests as they downed overpriced drinks. When a dancer clapped her ass cheeks like a maraca, a customer's hands instinctively rose to touch them.
"Keep your fucking hands off the girl!" Galeota yelled. But the man's paws were soon on her crotch again. In an instant, Galeota's meaty hand was around the customer's neck, shoving him outside.
Half an hour later, Galeota was guarding the door when a car rolled up with the window down. Gunshots flashed like fireworks in the darkness. When Galeota stood up, he checked his T-shirt for bullet holes, but found none.
"Another night at Porky's, another shooting," he remembers now from his prison cell in Panama.
For 18 years, Galeota ran Porky's with the same punishing justice he learned from the mob and transformed it into Miami's most notorious whorehouse, where Russian gangsters and Cuban criminals spent millions on sex and drugs. There was a spate of murders, several police raids, and a federal drug-trafficking trial. Like a real-life godfather, Galeota weathered it all.
"It was a very violent atmosphere," he says. "Running a club in that neighborhood, win or lose, you've got to fight."
When Galeota arrived in Miami in the summer of 1991, the city was awash in coke, crack, and drug cash. But Porky's was just a Hialeah dive bar on the corner of SE 14th Street and Ninth Avenue, surrounded by cheap motels and buzzed by flights taking off from Miami International Airport. Ludwig Fainberg — a Russian-speaking Ukrainian nicknamed "Tarzan" for his flowing locks — had opened it a few months earlier but ran it like a private club for Eastern Europeans. Galeota saw an opportunity.
@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo Ooooooh! I really could spend all day reading about glamorous gangster dodginess.
What does "Manhattan's infamous West End" refer to? Is it the West End bar that used to be near Columbia University? Or West End Ave.? Anyway , it can hardly be "infamous" if I can't seem to find anything about it.
Ha ha, you get what you deal out, I'm glad you're going through this. You people talking about the place are just as disgusting as this fat pig and belong there with him. Selling human flesh and drugs, we all know what kind of a filthy life that is. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Tony G.is my friend.I used to bring my guitar down to Porkys and play and sing "Ruby Baby" for the dancers in the back room.They had a cute midget (little person) working there I used to like.Great ass!!
Porkay's was our Cheers...it wasn't a stripclub, it wad a hangout. A place where everyone knew each other n just hung out. Tony n Jimmy where staples there...such as big Carl, Santi n Carlos. Those where the good ol'days!
Thank you to New Times and to exceptional writer, Mike Miller. What a story. To help Tony and his family, check the IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign. http://www.indiegogo.com/helptonygaleota
Meanwhile...FBI agents from Los Angeles...in a different strip club across the Pacific...
@NotRollergirl @pleasedonteatjo Grot-glamour. It's the proximity to shoddiness and crap taste that I love. The Kim Dotcom aesthetic.
@pleasedonteatjo They have just both rolled up my Instapaper icon and are attempting to snort Shazam.
@unclelukereal1 check out the @miaminewtimes article. Its crazy. Could use ur help in spreading the word on this innocent American in jail.
@unclelukereal1 it is a strip club in Hialeah..right near the airport...google it...google ludwig Fainberg and tony galeota
@DavidOvalle305 Centro was quite notorious..however they came & went very quickly. That can't be denied. #Porkys thrived for a long time.
@DavidOvalle305 You have a point, but only Porky's had a Russian-Colombian cocaine submarine plot. What a place! More to come tomorrow, too.
@AndrewMaleMojo It's that amazing idea that everyone will take you at your own estimation for a bit, no matter how demented your lies are.
@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo YES! Have you seen Damsels In Distress with the chick who pretends to be British?
@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo HAR. It took me a little while, but I was Sambola-ing in my seat at the end.