In “Bigger is Better,” reality TV star Angela “Big Ang” Raiola shares her rules for living life to its fullest extent and avoiding the drama. Here's an excerpt.
Introduction: How to Live Big
Nine years ago, I was under house arrest for a drug conviction. Two years ago, I was $100,000 in debt. And now, I’m about to move into a mansion, I’m on TV, and people from Saudi Arabia come to my bar to meet me. It’s hard not to look at life’s changing circumstances and realize you control only two things:
1. Your style
2. How you treat other people
I don’t want to look back on my life and think, “Man, was I a toxic bitch.” I want to think, “Everyone loved me. My style was fabulous. I had a big heart.” I want to live large.
Living Large means surrounding yourself with family and friends, cooking with bold flavors, dressing loud and proud, making a million crazy mistakes and then
. It’s about staying young—in how you look and how you feel—and laughing, hard and often. I’m known for my laugh, which some fans have compared to Herman Munster’s. When I think something is funny, you’ll know it: my jaw drops, my mouth opens, and a big gust bursts out that makes my whole body shake. When I throw a party, it’s a blowout. Diamonds? Of course, bigger is better! When I go on vacation, it’s first-class all the way. If I’m having one person over for dinner, I cook for ten. You never know if more people are going to drop by. When they do, they’ll be hungry.
Small is not how I do things. The only small thing in my life is my Pomeranian, Little Louie. Even though he’s just two pounds, he still makes a big statement. To me, the small life is staying home every night alone. It’s wearing all-black clothes that go up the neck. It’s eating a turkey sandwich on dry toast for lunch every day. It’s being afraid to take risks, and thinking that the best days of your life are behind you.
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Because of my large life, people react to me in a big way. I’ve heard it again and again: “Everyone loves Big Ang.” I’d deny it, but that’d be false modesty, and I don’t do false (except for implants and eyelash extensions). Everyone does love me. Put a baby in my lap, he stops crying and starts drooling. Put an old man in my lap, same thing. Even before I got famous, I’d walk into a club and people would flock to my side. My house is the most popular on the block. People come to my bar, the Drunken Monkey, and they just don’t want to leave.
As for why people love me, it’s not so hard to understand. They know I’ll try to make them laugh. I’m not going to throw a punch. A hot dish and a cold drink will appear before them within minutes. I treat people with respect, and I don’t do drama. I just want everyone to have a good time and be happy.
Maybe I try to inspire happiness because I know how it feels to be seriously miserable. I’ve had my share of hard times—including an early divorce and rocky second marriage, health problems, both my parents dying too young, raising kids alone, going broke, getting arrested, watching loved ones sent to prison and fall to cancer. Those low points have made me realize the only things that matter are family, friends, and health. Plus a diamond bracelet, a fur coat, a good haircut, a glass of cabernet, and a plate of steak pizzaiola. Just give me those, along with my self-respect, and I can get through anything.
This book isn’t to say “Do what I do” or “It’s my way or the Staten Island Expressway.” For the scores of rules in this book, there’s one that rules them all: “Rules are meant to be broken.” I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my life (although I regret nothing). But who am I to give advice? I don’t judge anyone or tell other people how to live. That’s not my style. What you’ll find here are just things I’ve done, how I’ve got through bad times and good, what makes me smile (e.g., puppies and diamonds), and what makes me roll my eyes (e.g., bargain basement plastic surgeons and cheating rat bastards).
One thing to know about me right away: my door is always open. Usually half a dozen or more people are around my kitchen table, having a bite to eat, telling their stories and neighborhood news. It’s loud and crazy, and that’s how I like it. So before you go any further, open a bottle, pour a nice drink, and then turn the page. Salute!
Reprinted from “Bigger is Better” by Big Ang by arrangement with Gallery Books, a divisino of Simon & Schuster Inc., Copyright © 2012 by JustJenn Productions, Inc.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive