My next guest brings her team, a team that have come together to reveal a terrible story, a powerful biography that involves one of their members being, repeatedly… physically abused and raped. It is an incredible story in which a white woman refuses to be a victim, eventually becoming something of a moral leader to the Crips, an organised gang of coloured youths operating crime syndicates around the sunset strip. It is a story that many readers may consider too far fetched to be a credible work of fiction, which is ok because…
Simons 10 Q Interviews is proud to present…
Bella Capo and Team Bella…
The vivid detail in this biography is taken from Bella’s words and journals. It is a story that ultimately led Bella to flee into hiding, away from the death threats she endured on a daily basis. The threats, the abuse, the beatings and rape left Bella with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which has drawn global attention from others who have suffered at the brutal hands of domestic abuse and violence.
La Bella Mafia will strike a chord in each and every person who knows of anybody or who themselves have been a victim of abuse. Bella’s Novel receives the ongoing support of her lifelong friend, actress and model, Ali MacGraw who wrote the foreword for the La Bella Mafia…
SD Q1: La Bella Mafia is not simply a biography but a collaboration of minds consisting of; Bella Capo, Morgan St James, Dennis N Griffin and indeed Ali MacGraw who writes the foreword. When, where and how did this partnership get started?
Team Bella A1: The “partnership” began when Tony “Nap” Napoli, a former Genovese crime family member and friend of Dennis N. Griffin, approached Dennis relative to writing a biography for Bella Capo. Griffin agreed and soon brought Morgan St. James into the project as a co-author. The thought that a white woman held a position of power in the Crips, a largely black gang, and the rest of her history drew both of them in.
They found Bella to be a courageous survivor and person to be admired. During the writing of the book St. James and Griffin were able to locate Bella’s long lost unofficial godmother, Ali MacGraw resulting in a wonderful reunion of the two. Through circumstances beyond their control, they had lost contact with each other several years before. Ali, a respected award-winning actress and activist, validated so much of what Bella said about her early years and agreed to write the Foreword.
SD Q2: The book is based around true events occurring within the Crips following the end of your marriage. Who were you married to, why/how did that marriage end and what is the link between your marriage and eventual involvement with the Crips?
Team Bella A2: I was married to a rat if you want me to be blunt. Not just a mob rat but a governmental one. My husband had close associates with the Boston mob and wrote a book for one consisting of secret government operations. Although it never made publication due to the Feds shutting it down, he did make the front page of the Boston Times News. My husband married me I believe to hide behind me. We got married and he bought me a nice house dead straight in the middle of the Hood. He got messed up with drugs and the music business after ten years of marriage and vanished. During this time, my children and myself became targets of the Crips and the best way of protection for my family was to join them.
SD Q3: For the benefit of Non US readers, who and what are CRIPS, what is their relationship to the MAFIA and where are they placed within the community?
Team Bella A3: The Crips is one of the largest gangs in the United States. Founded in Los Angeles during the late 1960s, the Crips gang developed and rose in strength due to the breakdown in the community leadership of the African American community following the LA riots. As the gang began to profit from the sale of narcotics, crack cocaine, more sets were developed and moved different cities. Currently there is an estimated 800+ Crips sets in the United States with the gang’s membership being between 30,000 and 35,000 members.
Crips stand for blue, bloods stand for red. As stated above, it started in Los Angeles to mark territories. I have known many members that have worked for various mafias. Mostly the Puerto Rican, Cuban and Mexican mafia as very few Italians roam LA and if they do they come through San Pedro, California.
The American Mafia is comprised of members of Italian descent, and associates of various ethnic backgrounds. It has its own structure and protocols, and is entirely separate from the Crips. The word Mafia has come to mean organized crime as depicted in many movies and books. However some sources say the word goes back centuries and referred to a Sicilian brothership of protectors. Bella’s father and husband were both thought to belong to the American Mafia although there is no confirmation that they did.
SD Q4: If Team Bella were exiled to a desert island and each had to take on one role to contribute to the wellbeing and survival of the team, who would be; the Cook, the Farmer, the Hunter, the Engineer….and why?
Team Bella A4:
Denny says: Morgan. She’d plan, organize and execute.
Bella says: Denny. For he is so good with coordination.
Denny says: Me. I don’t particularly like to kill things, but I do like to eat. I think I could handle it.
Bella says: Me. I’ve been known to find someone with nothing to start with.
Denny says: Bella Capo. She has provided for her family under very difficult circumstances.
Bella says: Mama B (Morgan). For her extreme patience.
Denny says: Ali. I think she’d be able to take the contributions from the farmer and hunter and turn them into something wonderful.
Bella says: Tony “Nap” Napoli (her mentor and part of Team Bella). He can cook!
SD Q5: Clearly there have been some frightening moments recounted from Bella’s life within La Bella Mafia and this has sparked interest globally from people who have suffered at the hands of abuse. Do any proceeds from the book go to charities associated with abuse and how do you contribute by way of time or money to help victims of abuse?
Team Bella A5: When we start getting money coming in through the sale of my biography, it is to our best interest to help as many shelters as we can. Most of these women start with nothing but a bag of fear and broken dreams and need somewhere to start. Without help, these places would sink. My heart did this book solely to help others whether it be financial, emotional or spiritual. They need all the help they can get.
A few events are planned in Las Vegas in January that will benefit a shelter.
Bella Capo, fearing for her life, fled into hiding for a number of years before deciding to come back and tell the story of her life. What tipped the balance triggering that to happen; how was it financed, where did you go, how did you remain anonymous and how were you persuaded to return from hiding?
Team Bella A6: I have been in hiding for 6 years. The initial “war” started eight years ago when my ex-husband walked out the door and disappeared. By the grace of God I was able to sell my house which kept me and my children afloat for the first few years. Also, the state of California Victims Assistance Witness program was able to help me with some bills for the first few years which helped me to get counselling, medical help etc.
SD Q7:? If you could start over, qualifications and experience aside, what would you choose as a career and why?
Team Bella A7:
Denny: Police detective or private investigator. I like to get answers to the “who, what, why and how” questions.
Morgan: I love to put the pieces together and argue my point. I might have chosen to be an attorney, which was something that interested me when I was in school, but at that time I was too shy to be a litigator (no longer true). However, I believe I would still wind up writing books because it is something I love.
Bella: I’ve always had it in me to help. I volunteered at a women’s abuse shelter home when I was 16, I spoke at Chino male’s prison at 14 and at 13 I was giving safe sex classes and drug awareness to the local juvenile hall. If I could choose all over again I would choose the same path minus the abuse I had to endure to get there.
SD Q8: Going back to the Desert Island and following on from question 4; with individual roles distributed for each of the four team members a leader must be appointed. Between the four of you who would each of you vote to be the leader (you can’t vote for yourself) and what would influence your vote?
Team Bella A8:
Ali Votes for:
Dennis Votes for:
Morgan as she has excellent organizational skills, drive and determination.
Morgan Votes for:
A hard choice between Denny and Bella; Denny is very analytical and cuts right to the heart of the matter, then helps to direct the others to accomplish the end result. However Bella has established and organized La Bella Mafia, an organization that has helped so many under her leadership.
Bella Votes for:
It’s a hard choice between Morgan and Denny. I’m going to go for Denny knowing he’s a good director and can do some fast fancy footwork and keep things in line… but then again so can Morgan. Such a hard question!
SD Q9: If you could offer any advice or comfort to victims of abuse who may be reading this article, what would it be and how would you suggest they follow through with your advice?
Team Bella A9: My biggest advice was some advice that was given to me at an early age that never left my head, which is, you’re never stuck! Although it may seem there is no way out and the sun will never shine again, I promise it will. Keep yourself safe and when leaving a situation, lie—do whatever you have to do to keep the other person calm while you’re making your escape route. Many people want to help you. Know that you’re worth the help!
SD Q10: What does the future hold for Bella Capo in terms of work, leisure and family life?
Team Bella A10: I am learning to enjoy my children and my grandchildren. They make my life so full. I don’t know if I will ever get married again but I can definitely say I am not against it. Everyone isn’t bad. I still love the same things as I did before, which are the beach, friends and road trips to give you an idea. I don’t think I’ll ever stop dancing, even if it is only in my living room 😉
SD Comment:. Well, I would like to say thank you to Bella and the entire team for giving such full and honest answers and entering into the spirit of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews and I wish you all the best in what is more of a project than a biography in isolation. Of course it’s not quite goodbye from me and the team as we will be interviewing with Morgan and Dennis about their other writings in separate interviews soon.
Bella Capo’s journey is mapped out within La Bella Mafia, which is available on amazon and can be purchased on kindle using the following links;
The Team Bella interview took place on 11 December 2013.
Simon Duringer © 2013.
Simon Duringer is both a Goodreads author and Independent Interviewer. If you have enjoyed reading this interview, why not download a copy of The Word: The Best of Simon’s 10Q Interviews, featuring 28 equally interesting and exciting interviews, available on Kindle, Prime (#Free) and Paperback. Links to Simon’s Amazon Author Page are as follows;
UK Link – Simon Duringer Author Page
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