By Amy Ryan
Updated May 01, 2006 at 02:00 PM EDT
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Joe Gannascoli (pictured) has given an number of interviews lately in which he congratulates himself for his enlightened attitude, as if the straight actor had done something personally or professionally brave by playing Vito Spatafore, the outed gay Mafioso on The Sopranos.

His arms must be tired from all that patting himself on the back, but Gannascoli does deserve credit for coming up with the idea himself to make Vito gay. Not only did that idea give the actor more face time on the show than if he’d remained just another hitman sitting around in the shadowy corners of Tony’s office, but it also added a genuinely new twist to the Mafia mythology.

I know some viewers have grumbled that his storyline, including his exile in a quaint New England town, is a distraction from the main action in New Jersey, but I’ve been fascinated by Vito’s story, as ladled out in the ”Live Free or Die” episode two weeks ago and in last night’s ”Johnny Cakes” episode.

You can read more about Vito, including some mild spoilers about what’s in store for his family, in this extensive interview with Gannascoli at AfterElton.com. Again, a little too much self-congratulation, but I loved his Soprano-esque line about his newfound fame: ”Listen, I would have [performed a particular sexual act] a long time ago if I knew this was going to happen.”

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