"Growing Up Gotti" -- the sometimes-controversial, but frequently amusing reality show chronicling the family life of Old Westbury's Victoria Gotti (daughter of convicted mob boss John Gotti) and her three youngest boys -- Carmine, John and Frank Agnello -- debuted a little more than a decade ago (Aug. 2, 2004). Monday night, to mark that anniversary, A&E airs "Growing Up Gotti: 10 Years Later" (at 9). I spoke with Victoria last week to learn what's up with her family since the show ended.
Why are you doing this now, after all these years?
I was telling everyone else, I was shocked -- wow, it has been 10 years, and initially we weren't going to do it. When we ended the show [after three seasons] everyone ended on amicable terms -- I think the wording we used at the time was, you always want to go out on top. It was a great experience, no hard feelings.
So it did end well?
I always looked at it this way -- when can you as a single mother get to work with your kids? I was just a neurotic mom always worrying about how to care for my brood, and how I could do it if I was not there But when they are there with you, it works. My real career was always writing -- writing my novels or stories, and while I'd be able to do that at home mostly, in my free time. I'd also do the show. So it really worked.
So I understand the boys -- now men -- are still at home: How are they all doing?
Yes, they are living at home, and John -- who is getting married -- actually lives next door; he has a guesthouse. And while Carmine and Frankie live at home, they live separately, in their own apartments. They all have their own responsibilities and we all share the common area. We love it.
I understand Frank is not part of the reunion show, correct?
John, who is engaged, and his new in-laws, took us to a surprise lunch right before production began. Everyone got a bad dose of food poisoning, and all of us were down for the better part of a week. They put the shoot off for a week until we were all ready to go, but Frank didn't get as well as we did. He wasn't up to it.
What are your sons doing professionally?
They're all partners in a recycling business and they just opened another plant. They were in Queens for a while, and just broke ground in Island Park -- been working on it about two months but with the unpredictable Long Island weather, there were delays -- it's near the water and the whole place was literally flooded.
Periodically, you put the house in Old Westbury -- which was as much a star of the show as the family -- up for sale. Still planning on selling?
The house is too much of a house, too much everything for one woman and they have their own lives. I think, well, if it's sold and the kids are gone, then ideally I want to downsize. It's just too much house for me. We'll see -- I don't know what the future holds.
How's your mother [also named Victoria] who I understand had some health problems recently?
She's good. She had a really bad stroke, but she's a remarkably strong woman -- she's kind of almost back and had some trouble with her speech and walking, but she's pretty much back.
And your brother, John Jr. [who lives in Oyster Bay and who now, his lawyer says, manages real estate properties]: You both still close and keep in touch?
Yes, we're very close. He's doing great -- living a very quiet, unassuming life. One of his kids is a soccer star and he goes with them on the travel team. One of the oldest sons is into physical fitness and does -- I don't know what you call it -- MMA [mixed martial arts].
Any more TV shows in your future?
I have no clue what tomorrow brings. I go with it every day. Who knows? . . . I leave every door open."
Ten years ago, certainly a great deal of heat and controversy continued to swirl around the Gotti name -- much, much less now. Does your life have some semblance of peace right now?
I don't think it'll ever be peaceful or without some sort of drama. But you have to realize, that's not what's important to me anymore. I could care less what people think.It's what's happening in my world and to those who love me and those I love. That's what I worry about. I make choices in my life, sometimes not the right choices, but I'm my own worst critic. If it's something I've chosen to do that was wrong, then I take the blame. I just live my own life, and right now, it's nice and quiet.