'Sopranos' + Hate Crime + Pool Cue = Marketing Opportunity
August 13, 2007 6:36 PM
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has issued a statement condemning an apparent “Sopranos” product tie-in: A pool cue endorsed by former cast member Joseph Gannascoli. During the sixth season, Gannascoli’s character Vito Spatafore was beaten to death, and then sodomized, with a pool cue after his mob crew discovered he was gay.
The gay and lesbian community embraced the “Sopranos” storyline because “Gay Vito” was a sympathetic character and his death brutally demonstrated intolerance. The pool cue is marketed by a company called Rockwell Billiards, which, in an epic moment of poor-taste decision-making, branded the product with the phrase “A Cue to Die For” (guess they couldn’t fit “The Perfect Weapon to Beat a Gay Man to Death With” on the cue).
“GLAAD is calling on Rockwell Billiards and Gannascoli to remove the name, ‘A Cue to Die For,’ from this product immediately and apologize for using such a vulgar symbol of violence and anti-gay bigotry to make a profit,” read the GLADD statement.
The "to Die For" slogan has been used for other, less sensational Gannascoli-endorsed products. His mobster novel is called "A Meal to Die For" and he will soon have a cigar lined branded with "A Cigar to Die For," according to his Web site.
An HBO spokesperson said they had no involvement with the endorsement deal.
UPDATE August 15, 5:28 pm:
Gannascoli gave an interview to the Miami Herald apologizing for the cue, but stopped shy of committing to pulling his endorsement.
"I had no idea it would create this sort of uproar," Gannascoli said. "This cue has been out for more than a year. I'm considering pulling all the pool cues. I'm a great supporter of the gay community." Gannascoli noted his other "to Die For" products, and added, 'It's a coincidence that I died from a pool stick and it's 'A Cue to Die For.' "