Organized Crime Queens: The Secret World of Female Gangsters
From the bizarre world of female Japanese motorcycle gangs to the historic rise and fall of London’s Forty Elephants, the history of female organized crime is both fascinating and strange. These are the stories, both true and legendary of the female crime bosses that broke the mould of feminine gentility. This is The Secret World of Female Gangsters.
Most of society thinks of women as the gentler sex, the sex with more compassion and empathy, not prone to violence. The truth is history, and current events, are littered with stories of violent women who do whatever it takes to get what they want; women who either revel in, or accept as needed, whatever acts of torture, murder and depravity that are required to achieve their goals. We’re not talking about mundane psychopaths that kill their children and their husbands; or homicidal maniacs that kill randomly without purpose, other than for some sexual or psychological gratification. We’re talking about female organized crime bosses, leaders of highly structured, often successful criminal organizations.
Most everyone knows about the high profile male mobsters; people like Lucky Luciano, Myer Lansky, Bugsy Segal, Arnold Rothstein, and Al Capone: men who became legends, rightly or wrongly, due to the public’s insatiable appetite for literature, movies, and television stories based on their lives. But what about their female counterparts, they definitely existed and still exist. Their stories are both fascinating and cautionary. Their histories provide an alternative perspective on the equality of the sexes; everything has a price. We are talking about smart, capable, talented, ruthless women who under other circumstances might have become leaders in either business or politics; women who demanded respect, loyalty and a big payday; or else.
The Female Gang That Terrorized London
The idea of a gang of highly intelligent, dangerous, wild living, independent criminal women led by an extraordinary individual who thought she was the reincarnation of some Amazon Queen is unusual, if not unique. In today’s society Alice Diamond might have become the CEO of a major multinational corporation, or perhaps the Prime Minister of England, but in the early twentieth century, ruthless women of ambition, strength, and intellect were not given access to the educational and leadership avenues available to men.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from the tale of the Forty Elephants it’s that denying access to opportunity based on bias, prejudice, or preconception will ultimately bite society in the ass, extracting a larger price than if opportunity was provided to all. On the other hand, there are individuals and groups of males and females who refuse to work within the confines of society to create change and prefer a self-indulgent, nihilistic pursuit of self-gratification and interest.
The Forty Elephants, also known as the Forty Thieves, were an all-female gang of criminals that operated in London from the 1700s up until the 1950s. They reached their heyday in the years between WWI and WWII under the leadership of twenty-year old Alice Diamond, also known as Diamond Annie, due to her penchant for wearing diamond rings that she often used as a weapon. More than one assailant lost an eye or suffered severe physical injury from one of her namesake fashion statements.
What’s Your Poison? How Cocktails Got Their Names
Why do we call mixed alcohol drinks “cocktails”? How do they get their exotic names: names like the Singapore Sling, Screw Driver, the Alamagoozlum, the Angel’s Kiss, the Hanky Panky, the Harvey Wallbanger, Sex On The Beach, the Monkey Gland, the Brass Monkey, the Margarita, the Japalac, the Lion’s Tail, and many, many more? Who makes up these names, where are they invented, why, and how do you make them? These questions will be answered in “What’s Your Poison?” by exploring the incidents, people, and places that prompted the creation of these exotic concoctions.
The Jack Rose
A Bald Gambler, A Corrupt Police Detective, A Murdered Casino Owner, And A Dash of Applejack
New York City, July 16, 1912, it’s a hot steamy afternoon. Four men wait under the awning of the Hotel Metropole located at 147 West 43rd Street. The hotel is a five story brick building on the corner close to Times Square. A sign above and to the side of the canopy over the entrance tells visitors they’ve arrived at the famous Metropole, the first hotel in New York City with running water in every room, home to gambler Nicky Arnstein, Fanny Brice’s lover and ultimate second husband, Bat Masterson, ex-western lawman, now New York City sports’ writer, and Herman Rosenthal, bookmaker and illegal casino owner.
The four men milling about outside the hotel are not out of place on the busy street. They’re wearing summer weight suits suitable for the weather. Jacob, Whitey Lewis, Seidenschner wears his usual cloth flat-cap, while Francisco Cirofici, aka Dago Frank, Harry Horowitz, aka Gyp the Blood, and Lefty Louie Rosenberg, all wear straw boater’s, a popular male fashion statement of the time.
These men are all members of the Lennox Avenue Gang led by Harry Horowitz and controlled by Zelig Harry Lefkowitz, aka Jack Zelig, head of the Eastman Gang. The Lennox Avenue group could be considered the prototype of the more famous criminal gang known as Murder Incorporated.
As Herman Rosenthal exits the front door of the Metropole the four men surround him, draw their guns and fire. Gambler Herman Rosenthal is shot dead in broad daylight on a crowded New York street. As Rosenthal lies bleeding on the pavement the four men scramble to the waiting car provided by Baldy Jack Rose, the man who hired them to murder Rosenthal on orders from crooked NYPD Lieutenant Charles Becker.
Baldy Jack Rose was born Jacob Rosenzweig in Poland in 1876. His family immigrated to America and at the age of four Rosenzweig was stricken with typhoid leaving him with alopecia universalis, a condition causing all his hair to fall out. Cruel classmates teased Jacob giving him the nickname Baldy, an apparent prerequisite for a life of crime as all the gangsters in this tale seem to have colourful monikers, and Baldy Jack Rose seemed appropriately fitting for a hairless young criminal.
Baldy spent his early years in Connecticut where he grew up to be a gambler, boxing promoter, and founder of a minor league baseball team, The Rosebuds, not the toughest sounding name for a sports team owned by the man that became embroiled in one of America’s most infamous murders. If not for being overshadowed by Lucky Luciano’s bloody rise to power, the Rosenthal murder might be regarded as New York City’s most infamous gangland murder.
After moving to New York City, Rose opened an illegal casino called The Rosebud. It wasn’t long before it became an underworld hangout, especially favored by the Eastman Gang headed by Selig Harry Lefkowitz, and its offshoot the Lennox Avenue Gang led by Harry, Gyp The Blood, Horowitz.
Beating the System
It’s been said that gambling is a tax on the dumb; that may be overly harsh, but the fact is, most gambling venues are designed to guarantee you lose. It doesn’t matter if it’s horseracing, lotteries, casinos, or the annual state fair. As soon as you plunk down your dollar you’re a loser. Those milk bottles at the bottom of the pyramid you’re trying to knock down are filled with lead, and that basketball net that looks so close you can’t miss, is actually oval not round, and barely big enough for a ball to pass through.
Most people like to take a chance every once in a while; maybe they’ll get lucky. It’s a kick, a lark: an afternoon’s entertainment. They know when to walk away… others don’t… some can’t. For them it’s a drug, a search for an unattainable high. Deep down they don’t even want to win. It’s sad. It’s pathetic is what it is.
You see these sorry souls at the track, at the casinos, or anywhere there’s a game of chance. They’ll bet on horses, dogs, camels’… even killer roosters. It’s nuts I know, but their addicts, they’ll bet on people, and that’s the worst bet of all. Gambling is for suckers; that’s why gamblers don’t gamble, they fix the game, and even then, it doesn’t always work.
Horse racing is advertised as the sport of kings. Sure, if that’s what you want to believe. I was a jockey, it was my job, but I made my living as a fixer. You want to know what really goes on behind the scenes. You want to know what horse racing is really all about. Then come a little closer, cause I got a story for you.
Be Careful Who You Screw
Joey Pines kneels on the bathroom floor of the Juanita Bar on the outskirts of Detroit. Pee is trickling down Pines’ soiled jeans pooling on the floor around his knees. Blood runs down his face from where Ronny introduced his nose to the Mexican’s Smith and Wesson. The guy is scared, scared to death, scared because in the next few seconds a decision had to be made. Does Joey Pines end his days on the bathroom floor of Juanita’s third-rate bar, or does he live another day so he can screw somebody else? Whatever happens, he’s never going to screw Ronny again.
It all started three days earlier when Ronny fixed the fifth race at Motor City Downs. Fellow jockey, Angel Morales, came to him with a deal. Juan Carlos Perez, a local drug dealer wanted to expand his operation. He was already supplying jockeys with various illegal pharmaceuticals for weight loss and entertainment purposes, so why not expand into the gambling business. Perez supplied the money, and Morales supplied Ronny. It was an arrangement made in hell.
The fifth race at Motor City Downs seemed like the perfect initial foray for Perez. All the jockeys in the race were paid their five hundred bucks and given the order of finish for the first three horses. Other than the first three places, jockeys could do what they wanted but those first three horses had to finish in the correct order for Morales, Perez, and Ronny to collect on the trifecta. This wasn’t rocket science.
Everyone was on board but Ronny had his doubts about Pines, who was a known shithead and drug addict. Someone had seen Pines slip the valet what looked like cash, probably for a bet. If Pines was betting on the race, was he betting the trifecta, or was he betting on himself? Nobody knew for sure. Before the race Ronny warns him.
“You understand what you have to do? Your number can’t be on the board. You fuck us over and finish in the top three… you’ll be in the ground before the sun comes up.”
“Don’t worry, I got it.”
As the horses were being loaded into the starting gate Ronny turns to Pines one more time. “We good?”
Pines nods, “I got this.”
The starter rings the bell and the gates fly open. Coming around the first turn Ronny is on the outside of Pines, they’re in sixth and seventh places respectively. Ronny looks over at Pines and sees him pull up his sleeve. The prick has a machine. Before Ronny can do anything about it he hears the buzz, and Pine’s horse takes off leaving Ronny and everyone else in the dust. They get to the finish line and Pines finishes second. The horses that needed to finish one, two, three, finish first, third, and fourth. The bet is busted. The son-of-a-bitch screws Ronny and friends. He doesn’t even collect on his own bet because he came in second instead of first. Pines is laughing and making fun of the other jockeys who all had bets on the race, figuring it was a sure thing.
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About the Author:
Jerry Bader is author, publisher, and Senior Partner in MRPwebmedia.com. He has written twelve hybrid graphic novels (including “The Method,” “The Comeuppance,” “The Coffin Corner,” and “Grist For The Mill”), thirteen children’s books (including “Two Dragons Named Shoe,” “The Town That Didn’t Speak,” “The Bad Puppeteer,” “The Criminal McBride,” and “Mr. Bumbershoot, The Umbrella Man”), three marketing books, and several novels and biographies including “The Fixer” and “Organized Crime Queens.”
The graphic novels are unique in that they are designed as screenplays with accompanying storyboard panels to give the reader an enhanced experience akin to reading like a movie producer. Watch for new releases as they come available!