Getting mobbed by `Sopranos' addicts

March 01, 2001|By Kevin Cowherd

LET'S SAY you're into - and I mean really, really into - "The Sopranos," the stylish HBO series about the Jersey wiseguy life.

Let's say you love everything about the show: the snitches getting whacked, the long-suffering mob wives pulling wads of cash and automatic weapons from the heater vents, the coked-out mistresses, the moral relativism of it all, the treachery and deceit and black humor. You love it so much, it's like an IV drip of espresso - it keeps you up for hours after each episode, because you want to testify about the brilliant characters, the crackling dialogue, the wonderful story arcs.

You're so nuts about this show that when you do sleep, you dream of fooling around - "bada-binging" you call it - with Tony Soprano. Tony's a mob boss, sure, but with that gut and a hairline that's now receding to Mississippi, he's not exactly Jimmy Smits in the looks department.

Anyway, what's a girl to do when she has a "Sopranos" jones like that?

Right. She forms a support group.

This, it turns out, is why I'm here at the Pazza Luna restaurant in Locust Point on a windswept Tuesday night, talking to a woman named Kim Acton, who happens to own the joint and who started the support group.

Rob behind the bar is mixing Hurricanes - it's also Fat Tuesday, although celebrating Mardi Gras in Baltimore is a little jarring, like celebrating the Pecan Festival in Manhattan, it seems to me.

But I'm here for the Sopranos Support Group kickoff party. The hit series begins its third season this Sunday at 9 p.m. with two new episodes. And right now, surrounded by "Sopranos" posters and memorabilia, with the show's opening theme blaring from the CD player and Acton talking excitedly about the coming season premiere, I feel like going out and whacking some rat myself.

Acton, 41, who calls herself a "lunatic with no life," actually seems to have more life in her than any 10 other people. Right now, she's so fired up about "The Sopranos" it's scary.

"My heart bursts when I think about this show!" she says. "I started watching it, and it got to the point where I couldn't wait till next week. I'd be watching an episode ... like when Richie was going to marry Janice and he got annoyed one day and popped her, and she puts the clip in the gun and goes BOOM! and blows him away!

"And I'd be thinking: Can you believe this? And there'd be nobody to talk to about it!"

Clearly, this was a woman who needed to talk about it. This is a woman so blown away by this show that, in between talking with me, she goes on eBay and bids $250 for a "Sopranos" umbrella, hockey jersey and T-shirt.

This is a woman who quotes whole passages of "Sopranos" dialogue the way others quote "Hamlet," including this classic exchange between Tony Soprano's wife, Carmela, and his sister, Janice, who is to marry Richie Aprile:

Carmela: "Do you let him hold a gun to your head during sex?"

Janice: "If that's what gets him off. Is that so different from garter belts or nurses uniforms?"

Carmela: "It's a gun, Janice! I thought you were a feminist."

Janice: "Usually, he takes the clip out."

Anyway, last year, Kim Acton needed to talk to somebody about the show. So she took an ad out in The Sun.

The ad said, in part: "Paulie Walnuts is getting spiritual. Dr. Melfi is drinking too much Belvedere. Carmela wants to have an affair with Vic. Tony stopped his affair with the Bada-Bing girl. And Janice whacks Richie! It all gives me AGITA! Join the Sopranos Support Group and get mobbed up at Pazza Luna."

The response was incredible.

"Oh, had to be 20 calls the first day. And the calls just kept coming," Acton says.

Anyway, Acton was so overwhelmed by the calls that this is what she did: nothing. For a whole year, she did nothing.

Originally, she had envisioned the group sitting around her bar the night after the show, discussing the latest episode. But after so many called, she felt the meeting had to be grander in concept, and she struggled with that concept.

Now, after a few more ads, the Sopranos Support Group has 70 members. And now Acton is prepared to have them meet in style.

Each Monday evening, half the group will gather at Pazza Luna - which is closed that day - and Acton will cook them a "mob-style" dinner for about $35 per person. This Monday, for the inaugural meeting, the menu will include ziti ("Tony loves ziti"), insalata di polpo, which is octopus salad, and carafes of Chianti.

There will probably be a cannoli or two thrown in, too, as well as "Sopranos" glasses, posters and "any other mob [stuff] I can get my hands on."

"Maybe," laughs Acton, "I'll even get bumper stickers that say: `Meet me at Pazza Luna's Monday night - I'm a loser.' "

As we speak, the bar is starting to fill up. Three or four couples are bopping their heads to the "Sopranos" CD; another is engaged in a lively discussion of how much the show will miss Tony's mom, the manipulative Livia Soprano, played by the wonderful Nancy Marchand, who died recently.

That reminds me of my favorite "Sopranos" line - well, at least my favorite line that can be repeated in a family newspaper.

For it was Livia, her face dissolving into an anguished muddle, who once cried: "Kill me now! Go into the ham and get the carving knife and stab me. Please. That would hurt less than what you just said!"

If that isn't modern-day Shakespeare, nothing is.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.