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Cover Stars

Cigar Aficionado’s 112 covers have won high praise, and eight of our cigar-smoking celebrities tell us why.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

(continued from page 3)

CA: Was the cigar boom of the 1990s a good thing or a bad thing?
BELUSHI: I think it created chaos, but out of chaos came higher standards. It was like a crashing wave and then the waves settled down. I think cigars have gotten better since then. In the 1990s, there were a lot of good cigars but a lot of bad ones, too. Now it’s harder to find a bad one. The standard of cigar-making has gone up.

 

Joe Mantegna

(July/Aug 2011)

Actor Joe Mantegna joined the series “Criminal Minds” in 2007. The veteran Chicago actor was playwright David Mamet’s favorite actor early on, winning a Tony Award for the original production of Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. These days, when he’s not starring in “Criminal Minds” (or voicing Fat Tony on “The Simpsons”), Mantegna produces TV series and films of his own—and still enjoys a good cigar.

Cigar Aficionado: How long have you been reading Cigar Aficionado?
JOE MANTEGNA: I remember reading blurbs in the early 1990s about a magazine that was coming out that was going to be for cigar smokers. And I thought, “Maybe this thing will finally come out from underground.” Because, back then, you were afraid to let people know about this thing that I did. At that point, the whole cigar thing—people were starting to get into it but it was still not out of the closet. Cigar smoking was for Winston Churchill and old guys; it had that connotation. And then the magazine came out and it was like, “Wow! This is like Vogue.’ ” And I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning.

CA: What did being on the cover of Cigar Aficionado mean to you?
MANTEGNA: It’s hard to put into words. After reading the magazine for all these years, to pass by the newsstand and see my mug on the cover —Wow! It took me full circle to high school, when we would smoke White Owls and Muriel Tiparillos and Hav-a-Tampa Jewels. We’d have a card game every week and the other guys were smoking cigarettes, but we were cool because we were smoking cigars. So, to be on the cover of the magazine was very satisfying, right up there with getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
   
CA: Did you hear from anyone unexpected after being on the cover?
MANTEGNA: In terms of the fan mail, I started getting copies of the magazine sent to me with self-addressed stamped envelopes, asking me to sign them. People will go to memorabilia stores and buy pictures to send you or they’ll send you the covers of DVDs to sign. But with this issue, I heard from the cigar world. I kept getting all these large, heavy envelopes. These were cigar guys.

CA: What’s your go-to cigar these days?
MANTEGNA: I’m still a sucker for anything Fuente. And I really like the God of Fire. That’s a really good cigar. It’s not too heavy. God of Fire made a line with my name on it. I wouldn’t let them do that if it was just any cigar company that came to me.
   
CA: What is your favorite cigar memory?
MANTEGNA: It’s about a place called Gus’ Smoke Shop in Sherman Oaks, that’s now gone. It was, at that point, the oldest continuing business in the San Fernando Valley, run by a guy who has since passed away.

On Saturdays, a bunch of us used to hang out at the store. It was me and Dennis Franz, Joe Pantoliano, Dan Lauria and a few others. We’d all sit around in the back of the store—and we’d smoke cigars and sit on the floor and talk, because there weren’t any chairs. And finally, the guy who ran the place, his name was Jim Hurwitz, he said, “I can’t have you sitting on the floor.” So he rented the storefront next door and we used it as a cigar lounge. It didn’t last long but it was great. It predated the Grand Havana Room.

Which reminds me of taking a picture at the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills before it officially opened. It was Andy Garcia and Dennis and Joe Pantoliano—and Milton Berle. We were the charter members. It was still under construction. So Milton walks in late and Joe says, “How do you like my joint?” And Milton, who had a reputation for having the biggest dick in Hollywood, grabs his crotch and says, “How do you like my joint?”

Joe brought in his humidor full of cigars so we’d each have one for the photo. So Joe opens the humidor for Milton—and Milton grabs a handful and sticks them in his pocket. This was Joey’s personal stash, but what are you going to say? It’s Milton Berle.


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