With Big Ang, what you see is what you get. She is what she is.
Born Angela Raiola in Brooklyn, N.Y., the 53-year-old is an admitted fan of plastic surgery. She's had more than a few procedures, and admits to every single one of them. She's quite a striking figure, with her Botoxed lips and surgically enhanced breasts. Some have wondered if she's a drag queen, but Ang is every inch a lady.
Big Ang is the breakout star of Mob Wives, the hit VH1 reality series which follows the somewhat soap-operaish day to day lives of a group of gun molls on Staten Island, N.Y. Ang's appearance, along with her deep voice and frog like laugh, quickly made her the show's most popular "character." And while some of ridiculed her over-the-top appearance, many have embraced her.
A lot of people see something undeniably lovable about Ang. Underneath all the Botox and the brightly colored make-up lies a good heart. Ang likes to have a good time, and she wants those around her to join in on the fun. She has a foul mouth, and says what's on her mind. However, she treats people well.
Ang deservedly got a lot of the credit for Mob Wives' growing popularity, and so, VH1 spun her off into her own series. The July 2012 premiere of the appropriately titled Big Ang drew in impressive numbers. The 10 episodes followed Ang as she managed The Drunken Monkey, her popular Staten Island watering hole. Viewers also joined Ang on shopping sprees for her colorful wardrobe, and even got a glimpse into her private life.
In the second episode of Big Ang, which aired July 15, 2012, Ang attempts to give up smoking after a heart-attack scare. In episode six, ( Aug. 12, 2012 ) Ang's son AJ moves back in with her after his release from prison.
And in the ninth episode ( Aug. 26, 2012 ) Ang attends New York City's Pride celebration.
"I love the gay community," she says on camera. "I love them and they love me. We have a special relationship, we both have an obsession with clothes and shoes."
At Pride, Ang expresses her adoration for drag queens and their colorful outfits. She dances and laughs, surrounded by girls in wigs and glitter. The joyous celebration inspires her to launch Tuesgays, an official gay night at The Drunken Monkey. Ang gets a drag makeover, and the first night of Tuesgays is a smashing success!
"Gays like to party and so do I, that's for sure," Ang said in a phone interview with WCT. "Where can you have more fun than with the gays?"
Staten Island has always been known for it's conservative values, and has never been a safe place to be openly gay. Yet Ang reports that there was no trouble when dozens up drag queens converged on the Drunken Monkey. "The bar is on a main street, so there are no houses nearby," she said. "We get a lot of gay people and everybody loves me!"
Naturally, Ang is asked if she was a supporter of gay marriage. "I'm a big supporter," she said. "Have your wedding parties at my bar!"
She said that she's a little taken aback by her sudden fame. "I'm in shock!" she said. "I can't believe it, but I'm getting used to it and I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting people, and my family loves it. It's a lot of work but it's exciting! But I can't go shopping anymore, I get mobbed!"
Hollywood has taken notice. Ang had a cameo in the recent film Scary Movie 5, which she admits she has yet to see because of her hectic schedule. She's also accepted a small role in the upcoming independent film Staten Island Summer, in which she plays the girlfriend of Fred Armisen ( Saturday Night Live, Portlandia ). On top of the movie work and running her bar, Ang is now pulling double duty on VH1, filming the fourth season of Mob Wives, as well as episodes of Miami Monkey, her second reality series as the top-billed star.
"Miami Monkey is a great series about me and my daughter going to South Beach to open another bar," she said. "I like South Beach, it's young, I like the young crowd."
Ang is now flying back and forth between New York and Miami in order to appear on both shows and work at both her bars. "It's a lot of work, but I get it done," she said. "I want to take this as far as I can, I just keep doing it and doing it."
The first episode of Miami Monkey aired on VH1 Sept. 8, pulling in 630,000 viewers. Subsequent episodes will air Sunday evenings. All episodes of Miami Monkey, and of Big Ang, will remain available for viewing at VH1.com .