7 Days: The Making of a ‘Real-Life’ Godfather

In 1989, 7 Days covered the rise of John Gotti in a very graphic fashion


When Adam Moss stepped down as editor of New York magazine last month, it marked the end of an era. Since taking the helm of the august title in 2004, Moss had helped set the industry standard for magazine journalism, documenting the life of the city in all its highbrow, lowbrow, brilliant, and despicable glory. 

Of course, as dedicated media-watchers know, much of the New York‘s DNA was apparent three decades ago, when Moss emerged from Manhattan’s media landscape as the 30-year-old wunderkind behind the much-loved, short-lived 7 Days magazine. Published by then-Voice owner Leonard Stern for two years bridging the ’80s and ’90s, 7 Days was a glorious failure, bleeding money, but minting the reputations for a generation of fledgling journalists

Flipping through the 7 Days archives today is an exercise in delightful discovery. There’s Jeffrey Toobin writing about the Yankees, long before he became the lead legal analyst for the New Yorker; future best-selling author Meg Wolitzer (The Wife) writing the weekly crossword puzzle; a regular magazine-watching column from fellow future best-selling author Walter Kirn (Up in the Air); Peter Schjeldahl covering the arts scene; Joan Acocella on dance. 

Over the next week, we here at the Voice archives will be sharing some of these treasures from the vault. Welcome to seven days of 7 Days.

John Gotti’s Story Thus Far

October 4, 1989

By Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci, with illustrations by Brad Hamman

Nearly four years ago, at the age of 45, John Gotti rose to the top of the Gambino Family, the largest of New York’s five Mafia families and the largest-and most powerful of the 24 crime families around the country. Despite the fact that Gotti’s job of record is as a salesman for Arc Plumbing, in Ozone Park, Queens, he travels to meetings in a chauffeured car, dresses in elegant suits, and dines in expensive restaurants.

Gotti’s status is threatened, however, by his trial that starts in October on assault charges in connection with the shooting of carpenters’ union official John O’Connor, since a prolonged prison stay would disrupt his ability to do business. But if this trial is anything like his two others, Gotti will be back in action, in little or no time. Though much of John Gotti’s rise to power is shrouded in secrecy, this much is known: