Author Georgia Durante was invited to be a member of Joint Civilian
Orientation Conference 70 and toured military bases around the world.
Here Staff Sgt.
Chaplin shows Durante the workings of a tank.
Author Durante reveals her dark side
Former model and Mafia getaway driver Georgia Durante spoke at UO Tuesday to promote her book and revile domestic abuse
By Nicholas Wilbur
November 10, 2005
Georgia Durante was befriended by uptown New York mobsters when she was only 13.
She was pursuing a modeling career, striving to overcome the poverty in which her mother was raised, when, sitting in a café booth with a friend, she was unintentionally befriended by “the Godfather of Uptown New York.”
“I’ve seen the mob turn the lights on for people that couldn’t see,” she said.
The innocent looks of a pretty young girl appealed to her new friends and soon-to-be quasi-guardians, and before long she was regularly driving getaway cars for them. The police never viewed her as a possible suspect when delivering packages, she said.
She outran the police in shoot-outs, made “pickups” all over town and, in one instance, dumped a bloodied body at the hospital steps.
She discovered later that millions of dollars were in those packages, she said.
“They wanted to use me all the time, and it’s very hard to say ‘no,’” she said.
Like all organized crime, there was a dark side, and it took her years to realize it, she said.
That’s why Durante, now the owner of a professional stunt-driving company, was asked to speak at the University on Tuesday night.
“Her white and black is like yin and yang,” religious studies professor Mark Unno said. Unno, the Wulf Professorship recipient, asked Durante to speak about her book, “The Company She Keeps: One Woman’s Journey Through the Dark Side.”
“Before people can see the white, they first have to seek the black,” Unno said after the presentation. The yin-yang philosophy is one theory Unno teaches in his class, the Dark Self.
“You have to see what you’re avoiding,” Unno said.
In this sense, Durante’s story was ideal for touching students who are struggling with the darker aspects of life, Unno said. She lived the dark side, and to the extreme. And she admittedly was unable to realize the true darkness of her life in the Mafia until she stepped out of it.
In her book, Durante reveals that she was raped when she was 17 by her brother-in-law. She was a virgin, she said, and upon realizing what he had done, “Dick” decided that he had to kill her. Naked and cold, she was forced to dig her own grave in the backyard of her sister’s house.
She escaped that night by using persuasion and quick thinking, demanding she call her boss to tell him she would not be into work the next day. It is then that Durante found a new persona deep within herself.
To deal with “all the trash,” including rape, murders and domestic abuse, Durante created a new identity, she said in a DVD played before the audience of about 300 people.
“Georgia Black was born the night of the rape,” she said, “and she became stronger and stronger until she eventually took over.”
“Georgia Black was the other side of my personality I couldn’t handle,” she said.
Durante was forced to run out the door of her house on numerous occasions to escape her mobster husband’s physical abuse and later sexual abuse of her daughter. Her attempts to escape, all but one, were unsuccessful.
By Nicholas Wilbur
November 10, 2005
She finally began a new life in Hollywood, she said. At first, she slept in her car with her daughter and stole food from local convenience stores, unable to persuade directors to let her do stunt driving. She persisted.
After getting a job driving, Durante eventually started her own stunt-driving company called Performance Two that makes mostly car commercials. It allowed her to keep a low profile while making ends meet for her daughter. And after her book was published, she became a celebrity.
Georgia Durante works
as a stunt-car driver for
an Oldsmobile commercial.
Durante is able to broadcast her story now, she said, because the mobsters who repeatedly threatened her life eventually killed each other.
Chris DeBello, host of Issues & Ideas, a radio show in New Jersey, wrote in an e-mail that Durante’s story of abuse has changed women’s lives. DeBello works with Durante on a project to combat domestic abuse.
“I know firsthand that when women read or hear about it, it saves (lives),” he said.
About 15 books sold at the event Tuesday night, three of the buyers were freshmen women. “It kind of felt like she was telling me a movie,” Megan Kreitzer said after the presentation, “but it really happened.
“People can find the will to make it through,” she said.
“It makes me really look at the bright side,” another freshman, Christin Everson, said.
Copies of Durante’s book are available at the University Bookstore.