“It Was So Fascinating! Here They Were, in My Little House in the Suburbs, Trying to Plan a Murder!”

Mob wife Brenda Colletti, still yakking after all these years

"And I always think of Philip, too," she says. "No matter what’s happened, I wish I could call him, but I can’t because he hates me now and probably puts the mal’occhio on me every day." She grins at the thought and wipes at the corner of her eye. "But I wish I could get all that back."

Now she’s composed.

"People who say I should pay for my crimes and my sins," she says, "they should know that I do. Every day."

AS FAR AS food’s concerned, down here, everything’s fried," she says, scanning the Hard Rock Cafe dining crowd as we depart. "Those little round balls of mush — hush puppies? That’s what they eat. And fried chicken. And fried fish. They even fry their pies. And pickled eggs? Did you ever see them? In this, like, pink fluid? And okra! It’s these slimy green pods. Disgusting! I tried it once — I said, ‘Yo, this shit is slime!‘"

Now we’re trolling Broadway, looking for a bar, but there are more gift shops than honky-tonks. "We’re thinking of getting a couple of hot dog carts and bringing Sabrett’s down here," she says. "You’d have to make money. There’s no carts here! There’s no nothing! They don’t know shit!" She pauses to catch her breath. "I can’t even begin to describe how much I hate it here. I hate it so much, I don’t know what I hate."

We finally settle on a place. In the back of the room, on a stage, a woman croons "Blue Moon of Kentucky." We stop at the bar. Brenda orders a berry wine cooler.

"Back when you were still with Philip and living in Jersey," I say, "when you looked into the future, what did you see?"

"Oh, I envisioned Philip being a made guy and walking around in a suit," she says. "We’d have a lot of money, a beautiful house. A wonderful life. And everyone would know that we were a team."

"Would you actually be involved?"

"Yep. And if I didn’t like the looks of something or how somebody seemed, they’d know I’d tell Philip right away, and that would be it."

"No more involved than that?"

"Well, I could never be anything powerful in the mob. I’m female. I’m not Italian. But I could see myself being up there, yes."