Between trying to cope with the longstanding guilt associated with her father’s sentencing to making sure Dave wasn’t keeping her from her daughter, Karen Gravano didn’t have time to worry about what “these girls” were up to on Mob Wives Season Three. (Well, maybe just a little bit of time.)
After battling for two seasons, this time around Karen was ready to focus on her family. And that meant heading West. Number one on her to-do list was ensuring that daughter Karina was in the best care possible, followed by her work to clear Sammy The Bull’s name and giving “cousin” Ramona the best advice possible. It wasn’t easy, but all fighting was done in the name of love. VH1 got the scoop from Karen on an emotional season as well status updates on Dave, Storm, Ramona, Becky Butana, and a girl group we may want to remember a year or two from now. Read on for her thoughts.
This season was more family focused…
So I take it you were pleased the show moved in that direction?
That’s why I chose to get involved in this show: I really wanted to show the struggles that the women go through, [and that] no matter what we go through with our families, we’re still united. I was glad that they were able to focus more on that as opposed to drama amongst the women. I mean, there’s always going to be drama, that’s just how we are. I think for me, I felt good to sit it out and watch everyone else fight.
Instead of fighting with the other women, we saw you dealing with issues in your immediate family. Did you have any reservations about featuring Karina and Dave?
It’s always difficult because I try to protect my family, and Dave is Karina’s father and I don’t want her to watch the show and be embarrassed that her mother and father are out there like War of the Roses. It’s just my everyday life; the way I choose to deal with him is the way I choose to deal with him because I have a child with him. At the end of the day, I think that he has the same respect and love for me and Karina and for our relationship and I think that we both said the truth. I think what you saw was real; we do have our differences but we care enough about each other to move forward.
At the end of your Arizona trip you two looked like the perfect example of successful co-parents.
Right, but you never know what’s gonna come out on TV. Sometimes you say something and you’re getting an hour of the conversation as opposed to what went on for the past three weeks, too, so I didn’t want it to come across like we just had this fight and then there was no resolution. I think this season did a really good job of being able to portray that everybody has their ups and downs, but at the end of the day you can still move on.
Was it enjoyable to see the way Ramona talked to Dave’s girlfriend (Rebecca)?
I did not know how she was talking [to her]. I know how Ramona can be–she’s very protective over me–but I know Ramona was setting the record straight. Because if God forbid something did happen to Karina, as a mother you need to know the other mother. I can’t blame the girl because maybe Dave told her something, and how did she know I didn’t just up and leave? We needed to let her know that Karina does have family and I love her more than anything; that’s my daughter. If you think I go crazy over other things, you can only imagine what I would do for Karina. So not knowing a woman that has my child and Dave making a decision that she can take her to the doctor and I don’t even know her? No, it just didn’t sit well with me, Ramona, or with anyone.
Is Karina moving to New York?
Yes, Karina is going to come to New York. That’s been a struggle with me because she was going to come this year but she wanted to graduate with all her friends. She is so grounded in school, she is such a good student, she has so much going on out there that I didn’t want to rock the boat. But she does have opportunities out here, you know, with the girl group that we’re developing. Since people have seen it on TV I’ve had multiple people–Grammy Award-winning songwriters–that want to work with them and really get involved with them from the get-go.
Has it been hard being so far away from her?
I had to really work on being able to develop our relationship through conversations and I think that’s really helped us. I got to know her outside of being my child, as an individual, and I see that, you know? She does have so much potential in life but she’s definitely my main priority to protect. A lot of people didn’t understand me leaving her there, but for me to just rip her away from my mother was another thing, because my mother has been like the mother and I’ve been like the father for all these years.
Are you working with any other artists right now?
We have an amazing rapper that we’re developing. There are a lot of big things coming, but for me, my main focus is the girls and I want this for Karina. It’s not about exploiting her, it’s about making her grow, so I’m going to take it every step of the way and if it’s something she doesn’t want to do then we don’t have to do it. But if it’s something she wants to do, I’m going to make sure it’s done perfectly with the right people around her. I’m not just getting people that want to be around her because her mom’s on Mob Wives, or they want to use this as a platform. I’m all over this every step of the way and I’m just taking my time with it. Karina is shy so this is a good opportunity for her to grow and come out of her shell.
What’s your status with Storm, outside of the studio?
Me and Storm are in a great place. We definitely take it day by day because we’re still business partners, and then bringing it to reality TV, so many people have their opinions. We’re in a really great place and we’re growing as business partners.
Were you expecting to meet someone when you first walked into the studio?
I was definitely attracted to him the second I walked into the studio, but my main focus when I walked into that studio was thinking about my daughter, it wasn’t thinking about getting laid. After a couple times with him maybe my opinion changed [laughs]. I think he’s a great guy and I think that he has my back especially with me being here without my family and stuff, he is just my partner all the way around. He’s a great guy, and, listen, at the end of the day, if some s–t pops off I know I have an army behind me. You know how we roll. We always have to go to war, so he’s a good warrior.
I love when he came to the club. It’s true, if he can hang with the girls…
Yes, yes. Especially with these b–ches.
Does Karina like him?
Karina loves him. Storm’s funny, I think that she sees that he makes me laugh and that’s what’s important. She likes Rebecca, she likes Storm, and she’s in a good place she’s comfortable with her parents and that’s definitely important.
You’re so close with Ramona, but when it came time for her to reveal her engagement, there was some tension. Is it hard to disagree with someone that you’re so close with?
I know that we’re too close that [disagreements] will never hurt our relationship. I can’t be me, I can’t just smile in someone’s face especially when I know that there can be issues. I know the situation that she’s getting herself involved in and I know Ramona more than anybody. When she’s not 100 percent sure about something, she puts her attention in other areas—a ring, a dress, planning. I personally don’t think that she’s accepted the fact that the man she’s in love with is going to go to prison for a very long time. So being so close to her and knowing that, I would only be real and be a friend to tell her the truth. I just hope that this is what she wants; I stand behind her decision 100 percent, whatever it is, but I had to tell her the reality of the situation. It’s not really about planning a wedding, it’s about planning a life and if you’re going to be able to do the time with someone that can go away for 10, 15, 20 years.
Where do you two stand now?
We talk about it. I’ve been through every step of her life with her and she’s been through it with me. We’ve always had each other’s back with every decision—that’s never going to change and I want her to know that I want to be part of it, 100 percent. I’m not a Negative Nelly where I’m going to get up every morning and be negative about it. I said what I said, I spoke my piece, and I’m ready to stand behind her whatever she wants to do.
This season we also saw you revisit your dad’s case in hopes of shortening his sentence. Was going back to that place difficult to film?
Yes, it was very difficult revisiting my dad’s case because I still feel a lot of guilt for that. I didn’t really understand his decision to cooperate [with authorities], and when he did, I held on to that lifestyle which it wasn’t mine to hold on to. Because of the way people viewed him, I thought I had to act out and be bad and act a certain way to gain respect, and ultimately made my own poor choices that got people in trouble. As a family we were able to move past it, but my father got 20 years in prison so you can’t get back time.
Any updates on when he’ll be getting out of prison?
The good thing is we are definitely working on getting him out and it’s looking very positive. End of the day, he’s got four more years. He’s already done 15 years in prison so four more years in prison is a very short period of time for these men who sit there. Hopefully we can get him out sooner. He’s great; he’s healthy. He sees me on TV and he comes home and has all these ideas and is ready to work and get back involved in my life. Hopefully if Mob Wives is still going everybody will see the real gangster and what it is.
[Photo: Bryan Bedder]