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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 6)

"Which pocket?" the trader responds.

"I gotta go right pocket," Howe says, but points to the left one. "No, no. Left pocket."

The trader grins broadly and pulls out a money clip jammed full of bills. Howe grabs it and counts. "Two hundred fifty-one dollars. What do you want to buy?" he asks, apathetic to the answer. "I'm selling you a box of Davidoff No. 2s." The trader smiles and likens the episode to an assault. Laughter erupts when the trader reveals that in his right pocket, the one not picked, is a much larger wad of money.

Howe and Pantoliano like to do shtick together. Howe thinks Pantoliano likes being in Chicago because he is recognized there. "He's Guido the Killer Pimp here," Howe says, as he shows an invitation announcing Pantoliano as the guest of honor at a $100 cigar dinner. "Everybody in Chicago knows him. They like him. I think one of the things about Joey is he brings a lot of fun." There's a twinkle in Howe's Irish eyes as he takes a turn. "Now, I can't say how cheap he is. Jerry," he says to one of the traders, "you're going to have to say that for me."

"You mean, a cheap [vulgar word for someone who performs oral sex on men]? A cheap [the same unprintable word modified by an ethnic slur against Italians]," Jerry, who's having a bad day in T-bills, jokes.

"He's thrifty," Howe says.

"He cracks me up," Pantoliano says, enjoying his friend.

Here, in our movie, the camera would pull back one last time from Pantoliano to show everyone in the tobacco shop sharing a laugh. Life is just right. Pantoliano is smiling and puffing his morning cigar while sipping cappuccino from down the street, having brought enough coffee and biscotti for everyone. The script would say that the last shot would be full of meaning, showing that Pantoliano has never forgotten his history and the ambition it provided, but that he understands he is far from the welfare rolls and turmoil of growing up in Hoboken. Joey Pants has worked hard to create this world, full of riches, full of fantasy, full of more good things to come.

Time of your life, huh kid?

Alejandro Benes is a journalist in Washington, D.C.

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