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Pants On Fire

Acting is Joey "Pants" Pantoliano's first love, but as the VP of L.A.'s Grand Havana Room, cigars run a close second.
Alejandro Benes
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 3)

He justifies his character's apparel, saying that he's a "sharpie, he's just starting to make money." Before the camera rolls, however, he stuffs as much of the scarf as he can under the trenchcoat.

At work, Pantoliano is focused, quiet, at times almost brooding. He becomes a bit edgier in talking to people if he is distracted before he is about to do a scene, as if he is collecting the right amount of tension needed for the shoot.

"Action!" yells director Paul Haggis, and actor Jason Gedrick, whose character has made it out of the Irish gang, is sitting on the front stoop of a house. He gets up, walks to the street and starts to cross when he is intercepted by a black Lincoln Town Car. Pantoliano is the driver.

The camera cranes down as Pantoliano begins the process of luring Gedrick back into the fold. "Feel like breakfast?" he asks. Gedrick gets in and they drive off while the camera zooms back to a street sign that should read "Elm Street," but has been altered by graffiti to read "EZ Street." It's the show's closing shot.

"Cut! Print! Perfect!" yells Haggis. Seemingly oblivious to what he just said, the director shouts, "One more." The scene takes all of 90 seconds, and six takes later Joey Pants steps out of the car and self-mockingly shouts, "Makeup!" to no one in particular. It's like letting out a big breath. In a matter of minutes he is back in the makeup trailer, then in the van to the hotel. Pantoliano asks the driver if he smokes cigars.

"Yeah, I'm starting to get into them," the driver says, as he negotiates the turn into the hotel.

"Here," Pantoliano says, reaching into his shoulder bag and pulling out a Fuente "Havana Blend" cigar. "This was made especially for my club. Only 500 boxes were made. It costs $12."

Pantoliano's appreciation and knowledge of cigars, and his use of them as props in his films, has helped him create a wonderful world. He is not only a recognized celebrity among cigar people; he is also the vice president and a partner of the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills, one of L.A.'s hottest private cigar clubs. A friend of his in the restaurant business, who had just sold his place to L.A.-based United Restaurants, told Pantoliano that the company was opening a new restaurant in Beverly Hills and was considering reserving an upstairs banquet room for cigar smoking. Pantoliano hooked up with Harry Shuster and his son, Stan, owners of a Los Angeles restaurant company.

 

"Now, selfishly, all I wanted was a place where I could go and smoke a cigar," Pantoliano recalls, noting that most of Los Angeles is a strict no-smoking zone. As the business talks moved along in July 1994, Pantoliano became more taken with the notion of a cigar club. "Everything would be honoring the cigar. Great cigars. The best cigars that money can buy, legally," he says, while taking a puff on an Arturo Fuente Opus X. "And alcohol that complements that and food that complements that and atmosphere that complements that."


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