Gabbing with a Goodfella

Don’t mob him — excuse the expression.

Should a sizable crowd show up tonight at the Clark County Library, give Henry Hill some room. The ex-Lucchese crime associate-turned-FBI informant — whose story anchored Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” — is 66 now.

The one-time wiseguy and sometime “Howard Stern Show” guest is a Topanga, Calif., resident, long past life in witness protection, but not past some scrapes with the law. Last month, a drunken Hill was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a hotel near St. Louis.

But it’s a sober Hill audiences expect for the library’s “An Evening with Goodfellas: Las Vegas and the Mob,” in which he’ll join authors Dennis Griffin and Vito Colucci, plus mob movie technician Tim Redsull to discuss the Mafia life he left behind.

During a quick phone interview, Hill fielded a few questions:

Question: What’s it like for you when you return to Vegas?

Answer: It brings back memories. The first time I went to Vegas was ’67. I used to be a high roller. I knew everybody back in the day. I didn’t go for four or five years, and when I went back I couldn’t even recognize the (expletive) town. Now I try to stay away from the Strip.

Q: Where do you go?

A: I like Sam’s Town. In fact, I might be opening a new restaurant there.

Q: Do you ever regret the events that were recounted in “Goodfellas”?

A: It was the best thing I ever did, you know what I mean? I was going to be whacked. They whacked all my other partners. I was the only one left.

Q: Do you still get death threats?

A: Not really.

Q: But some?

A: Hey, you can’t satisfy all of the people all of the time, ya know?

Q: What’s life been like outside of witness protection?

A: I was ready to move on. I still hear from an agent if something comes out, or they hear something on a wiretap or an informant, they let me know immediately. It’s a case agent, one man, and we’ve become good friends over the years.

Q: You grew up admiring gangsters. How do you react to people now who think that life is desirable?

A: What’s that saying? You don’t want to walk in my moccasins one day. Believe me, I had a lot of fun, did a lot of things. But I don’t agree with those people who think that’s fantastic. It was a way of life. They didn’t glamorize gangsters in “Goodfellas.” That was the truth. I am so detached from that life today. When people ask me about it, it’s like, shut the (expletive) up. Let’s talk about the Jets or the Mets, ya know? And I don’t go to places where there are wiseguys hanging out — or they think they’re wiseguys. They’re wannabes.

Q: The movie made you a celebrity. What’s that like for you?

A: I don’t consider myself a celebrity. I try not to. It’s a game. To me, it’s a living. I’m working on a couple of scripts out there for movies. I’m working on another book. Mainly, I have my artwork. That’s what keeps a roof over my head. I sell quite a few. It keeps my head away from where it shouldn’t be.

Q: Aren’t you still struggling with alcoholism?

A: I battle with the bottle every (expletive) day. Ya know, today I don’t feel like drinking. But there are certain days, if I’ve got a bug up my ass, I’m going to go at it. I don’t do drugs anymore. I gave those up nearly eight years. I don’t even smoke marijuana.

Q: Do you warn kids away from the kind of life you led?

A: Yeah, I enjoy talking to kids, especially the knuckleheads — ’cause I was a knucklehead, no doubt about it.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

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