So much for family secrets. Several women related to men serving time for mob-related crimes are now reality-TV stars.
"I think we're brave," said Karen Gravano, one of the stars of the new VH1 series "Mob Wives." "I think there's so much out there about the mob and it's so glorified. I just thought it was time to bring people behind closed doors and see what the families go through."
Gravano is daughter of legendary, organized-crime informant Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who is serving 19 years in prison. The series follows the daily lives of her and three others; Renee Graziano, D'rita D'Avanzo and Carla Facciolo, all single mothers -- with either husbands or fathers in jail for mob-related crimes -- who appeared this morning on "Good Morning America."
D'Avanzo is a mother of two and wife of Lee D'Avanzo, who's serving time for bank robbery for the second time. Facciolo is also a mother of two. Her husband, Joey Ferragamo, is serving 88 months for stock fraud. "When you're a single mom trying to do everything, it's hard," Facciolo said.
D'Avanzo said her friends in Staten Island, N.Y., are not happy about the show. "It seems to me they feel like we're representing somehow. That's insane. I don't get that," she said, added that there were single mothers watching who could relate to their situation.
A mother of one, Graziano is the daughter of the former consigliore of the Bonanno crime family, Anthony Graziano. Her father is serving 11 years in prison. "Bringing cameras into my home was probably the biggest step I took ... to see what it feels like to have your life taken apart," Graziano said.
She wanted people to see them as wonderful women with hardships, she said, while not looking for sympathy. "We're regular people, and I wanted people to know it," she said.
But true to the reality-TV form, the show is not without tense moments. One scene showed Gravano confronting Graziano outside a restaurant of the former's father. Gravano's father was an informant for the FBI and turned state's evidence.
Gravano said they needed to address "family issues" so she confronted Graziano directly.
"You have a problem because of who my father is … because you're just a weak-minded individual?" Gravano said to Graziano.
When asked on "Good Morning America" if she approved of what Gravano's father did, Graziano said, "I will say that I do not agree with anyone, whether it be my son or someone in school or a grown-up, telling on another person."
Pressed on whether she approved of turning evidence is certain situations, Graziano jokingly "pleaded the Fifth."
Gravano said, "At the end of the day, these are our fathers. I'm going to ride with my father till the grave because that's my father."
The stars agreed, though, that they shared a bond and, although they fight, they can work through it. "We can fight with each other," Facciolo said, "but if somebody else comes in our circle, that's not good."