Gay Talese • Writer
“Cigars lead you to all kinds of people,” says writer Gay Talese. “It’s amazing the people you come in contact with sharing the smoke of a fine cigar.”
Talese, 90, the best-selling author of nonfiction books such as 1971’s Honor Thy Father, found his favorite cigar—the Cuban Cohiba Esplendido—while researching that book, spending seven years reporting on and living with members of the Bonanno crime family.
“I got into the Cohibas in 1968 through the Mafia,” Talese says. “One of Bill Bonanno’s bodyguards, a fellow named Carl Simari, got some in Cuba and gave them to me. It’s a nice, medium cigar. Smoking one is a luxury to linger over; it can take two hours. I always have at least one unopened box awaiting my needs.”
Talese also spent a couple of years in the early 1980s shadowing auto executive Lee Iacocca for a book he ultimately never wrote: “Iacocca was a constant cigar smoker,” Talese says. “His pockets were always stuffed with cigars.”
These days, Talese will smoke a cigar while strolling the streets of Manhattan: “I dream of those glory days when I could smoke a cigar after dinner at Elaine’s Restaurant,” he says.