F/M/K: James Gandolfini, Steve Buscemi, Michael Imperioli

by Julie Klausner and Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Julie: Okay, NVC, first of all I’m glad you’ve chosen this HOLY TRINITY with which to kick off our Sophie’s Choice: F.M.L. — I mean F.M.K. column, because I thought about it recently while I was watching Boardwalk Empire and I nearly had to slash my own face — CHICAGO PROSTITUTE STYLE — out of decision-related angst.

Readers, correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression that I’m the only woman on Planet Steve with a huge-emi Buscemi crush. I’ve wanted to hit it since Parting Glances, and after Reservoir Dogs I’d let him part my Mr. Pink Heyyyyy. I cringe whenever people describe him as creepy, bug-eyed, snaggle-toothed, and hunched over — because that’s what I think makes him handsome? I also think he’s magneto in that I can’t turn away from him on screen — ever — and I also just think he’s beautiful and sexy. OKAY? My boyf doesn’t like me to out my Buscexuality, because he thinks it makes people think he’s ugly, but I don’t care. I would marry Buscemi.

I would do it! I’d be his second redheaded bride and we’d drink red wine late into the night while jazz played, and I’d ask him about being a fireman, and then I’d pretend to be Enid Coleslaw — a.k.a. just me at 15 — when we were intimate on Sunday mornings. We’d go see theater at St. Ann’s on weekends. I’d learn to cook and I’d make him a leg of lamb, and while it was stewing and the bone stuck out at a perpendicular angle in the, um, stew pot?, we’d make jokes about the wood chipper in Fargo.


Gandolfini is who people are thinking about when they talk shit about Buscemi as a leading man. Because Tony Soprano casts an immense shadow, on TV and beyond. That character gifted equal parts dad stuff and Big Sex Bastard stuff to any woman who grew up under his influence, and he’s also, without a doubt, with a single role, the pre-Moreau Brando of our generation, and I love him. I love him so much. He and Frances McDormand, speaking of Fargo again, are my favorite actors of the current moment (oh, and Phylicia Rashad). And because we live in an age where our stars are 25 and Willow Smith, I think they’re our defacto “America’s Parents,” whereas back in the day they’d just be called, like, Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson. Just great actors who have faces God gave them because they look great scared or scary, and they are just wonderful. I’d fuck Gandolfini. I’d fuck him like a Russian with one leg, like a post-Hand That Rocks the Cradle Annabella Sciorra, and then I’d fuck him like Carm, when her hair was still big and ear lobe-length. I’d wear a ton of dripping chintz jewelry, and I’d be on top. But you can’t marry Tony! You can’t even marry Jimmy Gandolfini. You’d see him in God of Carnage and you’d remember the carnage — fondly, even — though you wanted to kick yourself and kill him at the time. But you’d smile and remember how small he made you feel that time, with his pot roast hands on the small of your baby lamb chop back. There is a lot of lamb imagery going on right now. And that brings us to beautiful Christo-fuh.

Kill: Michael Imperioli. Sigh. This hurts me more than it hurts you, Imperial beauty. Sacrificial lamb to the slaughter. But I have to kill Imperioli. I DON’T WANT TO. I just have less baggage with him. Ugh. This is making me sick. He was the only reason I got through The Lovely Bones. Okay, well — Stanley Tucci’s “Chester the Molestor” character was also pretty hilarious. Like, SKETCH COMEDY funny. Anyway — I have a giant crush on Michael Imperioli. I saw him on the subway gabbing with pals, seeming wonderful, and I remember feeling distinctly embarrassed that I had fresh-from-acupuncture makeup-less looks and Big Curly Hair. Not that that’s not a look, I just wasn’t confident. But if I had my gloss poppin’ and my hair did, what would I have done? Nothing! I would have just melted and maybe sat near him in his car. But Saint Michael I have to sacrifice. For Adrianna. Poor Ade. I could write about Ade until I die. And with that, my dear Christoper/Michael/Michael from Godfather/Jimmy from Boardwalk Empire — Mr. Imperioli — I pinch your nostrils and hope you pass into the night, if not painlessly, at least Comfortably Numb.

* * * *

Natasha: Julie, Julez, light of my life, fire of my loins, JU–HU–LIE. I say this to you in my most Mariah Carey-cum-mustachioed-social worker-In-Precious voice, “I hear what you’re saying.” But like the Emancipation of MiMi taught us, I need to be REAL 2 MYSELF. This choice, as it often does comes down to one thing: Freud. I would marry Gandolf. James Gandolfini is a beast of a man: a guy who encapsulates the breadth of Brando’s sexual appeal throughout the years. Watching him is like seeing Duchamp’s nude descend the stairs: in Gandolf’s multitudes we see Brando’s brutish Kowalski, the age-ravaged yet sentimental Paul in Last Tango, and even some sweaty forehead glimpses of the eccentric in Island of Dr. Moreau. He is the ultimate Alpha. That man flips so many primordial triggers in me that I just can’t deny. But if the great Austrian Jew of Ye Cigars and Cocaine taught us/our analysts anything it’s that there are some taboos so firmly in place that they must be respected (see: Family Romances), so rather than ball the Great Gandolf like a depressed Mercedes Benz saleswoman ensnaring a father figure in some sexual psychodrama that has all the levity of a community theater’s rendition of Equus, I will instead marry him. I know! But I’m marrying the *~*~pErFoRmEr*~*; the guy who does Mamet and Williams and David Chase justice, who was born in Jersey and will take care of meeee! Have you seen him in a robe? I mean come on, I just wanna sit on his lap forever, no one can ever hurt me there.

Now the man’s lap who I would bounce on forever, until my hips shattered from the 7.9 Richter scale fuckquake we would have is Imperioli. GOOD GAWD! Have you seen him go from guido to East Village gypsy with his wily mustache, Serpico leather jacket, and slender hips? He’s like a Voltron of fuck parts. And with Christofahh I feel like he’s crazy without being socio, like Tony. Imperioli, with the chest hair and the gonzo schonz, just drives me wild. Michael and I would have great theater people sex. All performative and smelly. Also, oh man, I hate to be Shallow Hal starring Jack Black here but there’s something womanly about fat dudes like Gandolf. Like when we’re grinding, I can’t deal with chesticle flapping or swaying, that’s what puts Imperioli on top for me because his nipples don’t fall far from his swarthy chest. ARE YOU READING THIS MICHAEL IMPERIOLI, I WILL MAKE YOU SEE STARS THROUGH MY MIDDLE PARTS!!

Which brings me to the sacrifice, Bushemz. I know, I know this is the kind of scene in every Cameron Crowe movie where The Good Guy, The Nice Guy, The Character Actor, gets thrown into the woodchipper because he’s strange, or tepid, or directs his own independent films or whatever, but there’s a quality to Buscemi that I fear. Something about his smartness makes me feel the neurosis would be on full tilt between us. I don’t find him sexually charismatic (even though he is not ugly at all, in fact it’s his intelligence and talent that makes him super attractive), but I do find him a little too mateable, which is a combination I’ve done before and it only makes me angsty and claustrophobic. I feel as though we’re too similar, that we’d congeal around each other in a glob of safety and warmth but with no sparks. I already know this is a fatal mistake, confusing drama with depth, and I’m certain that Buscemi would make a fine mate, but I’m just not ready to abandon a flickering belief that the man I spend my life with needs to set me on fire — physically and spiritually and perhaps literally.

Julie Klausner wrote a BOOK and Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote a BOOK, and both of them are experts in concurrently frightening and arousing weak men with discourse and panache. Sophie’s F.M.K. will be a regular column for The Hairpin!