Vinny Paz, uncensored

Small state, big screen
By PHILIP EIL  |  August 28, 2013

LET IT 'BLEED' Vinny meets the press. [Photo courtesy of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office]

The trouble with publishing an alt-weekly newspaper is that, sometimes, events take place in the hours before our deadline that we can’t tell you about until the following week. The upside of publishing an alt-weekly newspaper, on the other hand, is that when such events occur, and none of the other local news outlets tell you what really happened, we’re happy to fill you in.

Let’s set the scene. It’s Wednesday, August 21, just before 10:30 am, in the lobby of the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence. We’re minutes away from the beginning of a press conference, hosted by the Rhode Island Film & TV Office, to announce local location scouting for the Hollywood feature film, Bleed For This, based on the “true-life story of world champion Rhode Island boxer Vinny Pazienza as he recovers from a near fatal car accident and goes on to win three additional world boxing titles.”

A cluster of folding chairs and cameras has been arranged to face a small stage upon which Vinny Paz (that’s his legal name now) soon appears, wearing black sweatpants, a black T-shirt, large sunglasses, and, as always, the bold “5X” tattoo on the back of his right hand signifying his number of world championships. After a few minutes, a woman wearing an American flag-pattern scarf makes her way through the crowd in front of the stage to deliver to him a steaming cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Is it product placement? Paz’s usual morning routine? We don’t know.

What we do know — with absolute, unshakable certainty, once the conference begins — is that Martin Scorsese will be an executive producer on this film. The Goodfellas and Casino director’s name is mentioned no less than 21 times during the press conference, an average of about once per minute. (We’re are also told that various people associated with Bleed For This have worked with Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Ben Affleck, and Vin Diesel and that Paz’s story is “one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.”)

But the biggest name at The Dunk this morning is the Pazmanian Devil, himself. And, before long, the champ steps up to the mic to deliver a monologue that — since the film’s script is already finished, and, according to one of the film’s producers, it’s “one of the best scripts written, ever”— will unfortunately never make it to the big screen.

In a raspy voice, Paz begins by explaining how, at home, in his basement gym — “which I’m in every day” — there is a poster of Scorsese’s Raging Bull. He then proceeds to share his love for Rhode Island (“I fought here, lived here my whole life.”), but also his occasional frustration with the place (“Of course I had problems here, because they’re magnified by a thousand times, because it’s me”). From there, it’s a brief detour to explain some of the tax problems he ran into relating to a house he purchased in Florida during his fast-earning, fast-spending days (“That’s how that went down — the lawyer’s a douche”), which triggers some reminiscing about the height of PazMania (“I’ve got people who put tattoos of me on their body. . . There was a time, [when]I was on TV so much here, I would get sick of seeing myself!”).

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