Sliwa’s stories are so wild that they almost sound like fiction
Curtis Sliwa is the underdog Republican candidate in the race against Democrat Eric Adams to be the next mayor of New York City - and he’s about as colourful as a politician can get.
The red-beret-wearing, cat-loving activist, radio host-turned-politician has embarked on a series of escapades over the years and certainly doesn’t shy away from media attention.
As his longtime radio co-host Ron Kuby put it, the 67-year-old is “primarily motivated by the number of ears listening to him and the number of eyeballs watching him.”
“If you think of his mayoral run as a talk show, you’re a lot better off,” Kuby added.
From giving out press tours of his 750-square-foot studio apartment complete with 16 cats to racking up millions of views on his official TikTok, nothing quite compares to his wild and unbelievable past.
He was once kidnapped and shot multiple times in a mob hit
Back in 1992, a stolen taxi picked up Sliwa near where he lived in East Village.
Little did he know, it was a targeted attack.
A gunman hiding in the passenger seat jumped out and shot the New York Republican nominee in the groin and legs. Sliwa managed to escape through the front window of the moving cab but had to undergo surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds.
The son of John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family, was later charged with attempted murder when federal prosecutors claimed that Gotti Jr was furious about remarks Sliwa had made about his father.
Years later, in 2019, they both found themselves in an awkward encounter attending the same Staten Island wedding.
“I would look in [Gotti Jr.’s] direction … You couldn’t miss John and his sister [Victoria Gotti],” Sliwa told Page Six.
“To use street terminology, I was mad-dogging him,” he said, meaning that he was staring daggers at the man who attempted to murder him.
“People were reminding me this was my friend’s wedding — don’t make a scene; don’t get into a dust-up.”
He then faked being kidnapped – and admitted to a series of other lies
Just weeks after his near-death experience with the mob, Sliwa confessed to a string of lies in a 1992 interview with the New York Post.
After feuding with then-mayor Ed Koch, Sliwa fabricated a story that three off-duty transit police officers had kidnapped him in October 1980 near his home in the Bronx.
He then set up a fake rescue of a Bronx mugging victim for media attention, before claiming that he had fought off a group of six potential rapists on a subway train.
Sliwa also admitted to a made-up tale about returning a lost wallet with $300 inside to an elderly lady.
“I apologized for all of them. I didn’t justify them,” he said, explaining that he was in a “public relations war” after enemies were portraying the Guardian Angels as a problematic gang.
“I said, in order for this concept to survive, I gotta buy some time,” he said. “Then I just utilized some of these lies to give us cover.… And it was wrong.”
He founded the non-profit crime-prevention group, Guardian Angels – while working as a manager at McDonald’s
Sliwa’s Guardian Angels journey kickstarted while he was working a McDonald’s branch in the Bronx. Going by the nickname of “Rock”, he encouraged his employees to form a litter-picking group called the Rock Brigade.
The volunteers swept the streets for 60 hours across New Years Eve and New Years Day, travelling from Staten Island and ending at Rockefeller Center.
This later grew into a crime-fighting group known as the Magnificent 13 before evolving into the Guardian Angels.
Sliwa and his Angels soon became regulars in tabloids across New York.
Curtis Sliwa owns a lot of cats – all 16 of them - and they live with him in a 750-square-foot studio apartment
While it sounds incredibly overcrowded, Sliwa explained that his cats actually destress him – especially after his battle with chronic Crohn’s disease. When his blood pressure would spike, his felines would lay on his chest and “bring [his] blood pressure down normally, naturally. That’s what cats could do.”
“The patriarch is Apollo, the matriarch is Athena, and my very best friend is Ajax,” he reeled off to NY Mag.
“Then there’s Drop Foot, Little Big One, Hope, Wolverine, Tuna, Tiny. The newest, four weeks old, that’s Gizmo. Whiskers, Crooked Head because he’s got a crooked head. Let’s see — who’s left? Tiger, Love, Momma, and Homer. I don’t think I left anyone out.”
Sliwa sleeps in his red Guardian Angels beret
Sliwa has been donning his sartorial statement since 1979 when he founded Guardian Angels.
“I even sleep with the beret on. I fall asleep with the beret right on my head and wake up with it right on my head, which drives my wife, Nancy, crazy,” he told NY Post.