Before an endless trove of nude photos and a countless porn websites like TubeVSex were available in a matter of seconds with a simple click of a computer mouse, the world of pornography was controlled by the mafia. From the 1960s into the 1990s and the advent of the internet, every mob family in the country had its “porn guys,” the men who turned smut and the sex trade into millions of dollars for them and their bosses.

In Detroit, the sex rackets were first run by mobster Frank (Frankie Rah Rah) Randazzo. Then, Joseph (Joe Hooks) Mirabile, a future underboss in the Zerilli-Tocco crime family, took them over. The infamous Giacalone brothers and Ruggirello brothers had a piece of the action, too.

Randazzo had all of the Detroit mafia’s porn and prostitution rackets until he was killed in July 1976 in a gangland hit gone awry. His mob interests included a string of peep shows, porno shops and seedy motels where he sold flesh. He was connected to Midwest porn king Reuben Sturman out of Cleveland, the biggest wholesalers of pornography in America prior to his passing in a federal correctional facility 1997 (he was convicted of tax evasion, bribery and extortion eight years earlier).

After Randazzo’s death and up until his incarceration, Sturman still kept a presence in the Michigan porn racket though through Frankie Rah Rah’s little brother and fellow Detroit mafia button man, Anthony (Tony Rah Rah) Randazzo. According to FBI records, in 1978 Tony Randazzo helped the Los Angeles mob extort a $250,000 tribute from Sturman for doing business in California. The younger Randazzo died of natural causes in 1989, the same year Sturman was put behind bars.

Upon the elder Randazzo being gunned down by a hit-target of his in his own basement the week following the Bicentennial, Joe Hooks Mirabile was named the Detroit mob’s porn boss. Closely aligned with longtime Michigan don, Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, the slippery and savvy Mirabile expanded the racket to taxing the growing number of strip clubs on Detroit’s 8 Mile Road border and stocking a series of mob-run after-hours joints with sex workers.

While Randazzo used Sturman as his wholesaler, Mirabile used mob contacts in New York to obtain his product. Joe Hooks was supplied by Gambino crime family captain Robert (DB) DiBernardo and his Star Distributors outfit in Brooklyn. DiBernardo was slain in 1986, but the business was maintained by his partner, Teddy Rothstein. FBI agents tracked Mirabile underlings to New York and Las Vegas where they met with both DB and Rothstein to discuss dollars and cents.

One retired FBI agent sums up the Detroit mafia-porn racket link as being simple math.

“In that world, it’s follow the money,” he said. “We’d follow Joe Hooks’ guys to New York and back, then follow them to see Hooks himself.  Then follow Hooks to where he’d meet with Jack Tocco and deliver an envelope. There were a lot of envelopes passed between Hooks and Jack. That’s what gets you into the good graces of the bosses. And from when Joe Hooks took over from Randazzo, he got into stellar standing because of the palms he was greasing. He knew where his bread was buttered. I don’t know how well liked he was before all this. In fact, we heard he had some enemies. After he had the porn racket and the cash started flowing, those enemies went away real fast.”

Tocco led the Detroit mob from the late 1970s until he died of heart failure in July 2014. Mirabile, currently 85 and semi-retired from his underworld affairs, was Tocco’s underboss in the latter years of his reign. Per Michigan State Police documents, Mirabile and Tocco often dined together at Luciano’s in Macomb County, which has been a hangout for Motor City wiseguys for decades and the spot Mirabile would hand over his tribute. Mirabile’s sons would pick up the cash from Mirabile’s soldiers at a nearby diner, according to the MSP reports, and shuttle it to their father at Luciano’s where he would give it to Tocco.

The most prolific pornographer in Michigan at the time of the mob-porn “golden age” was Harry Mohney, who was raised on the west side of the state, but based his sex-trade empire out of the Flint area. Flint, Michigan is a smoggy, economically-hamstrung factory town about 75 miles north of Detroit. Mohney paid protection to the Detroit mob’s Flint captain, Luigi (Louie the Bulldog) Ruggirello and his three brothers. He also did business in Detroit proper, owning adult book shops within city limits in partnership with Sam (Sammy the Mustache) Norber, a Zerilli-Tocco crime family drug lieutenant and former Jewish mob “Purple Ganger.” I know that gangsta play is a big thing on watchmygirlfriend if you’re interested in that kind of porn it would be worth giving that website a look, but I disgress.

FBI surveillance reports from the 1970s list Mohney meeting with then-syndicate Godfather Joe Zerilli and Norber’s direct superiors in the crime family hierarchy, Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone, the equally fearsome tandem of gangster siblings and the Detroit mob’s street bosses for a half-century. Informants told the FBI, these sit downs were held to negotiate the amount of street tax Mohney had to fork over for operating in Motown. Mohney also had ties to east coast crime families in New York (the Gambinos and Colombos) and New Jersey (the DeCalvacantes).

The 75-year old Mohney did three years in prison in the 1990s for tax-related offenses. Today, Mohney owns and operates the enormous Déjà Vu strip club chain. He opened his first Déjà Vu in the Seattle area in 1985 and now has over 130 of them in 41 different states and foreign locales around the world. You can still see the influence these guys had on the porn industry to this day on websites like nu-bay.com Milf.

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