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Vice Fashion - The Best Dick In Italy

Bill Garganzola (not his real name) runs a private investigation firm in Milan, the cheating-on-your-spouse capital of the world (most likely). The way we see it, being an Italian PI is basically like being a chocolate inspector in the land of...
1.11.08

Bill Garganzola (not his real name) runs a private investigation firm in Milan, the cheating-on-your-spouse capital of the world (most likely). The way we see it, being an Italian PI is basically like being a chocolate inspector in the land of chocolate, or a coffin inspector in the land of Zimbabwe--equal parts overwhelming and very interesting to talk about at parties.

And since gumshoes use a bunch of sneaky photos to paint a picture of their subject's behavior in the same way that artist use a bunch of tiny brushstrokes to paint a picture of their picture, we thought interviewing Bill about his work would be a perfect complement to this morning's No Photos piece. Just kidding, we were just looking for an excuse to take pictures of girls through their windows.

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Vice: Is there some kind of formal education that prepares you for an incredibly cool career in professional snooping around?

Bill:

There isn't an insitutional, educational path, but there is an operative one. Most of the people who work in this field have a past career in law enforcement. But police work, and especially investigative police work, is subtly and yet radically different from what we do. Often, ex-cops find it very hard to work in PI. We have to work with far more limited resources than theirs, or, at least, our legal resources are far more limited than theirs. This means you have to be much more creative with what you have.

For example?

Well, what we call data-mining is very different from the way a police investigation gains information. We actually have to extract data as if we we're in a dark mine, without tipping off any of the people we're investigating. It's a very difficult job, you have to be able to make your way through open-source databases and the people who know how to do it are few and sought-after.

What’s the most ridiculous case you were ever asked to take?

One time, there was a guy who wanted to know if a stewardess on a flight he took five years before had noticed him. How are you supposed to figure that out? We get a lot of crazy people, mostly of the paranoid type. There are also the visionaries who come in and say things like: “There's weird stuff happening at home. I wake up in the morning and my furniture has moved”. And obviously they live alone and nobody has the key. I remember one guy in particular who had a Russian wife who had gone back to Russia to visit her family. He claimed to have seen her in Milan, implying that she was cheating on him.He was very precise and convincing in his descriptions, so we get started on the case. First thing we do is find a way to discreetly call his wife in Russia and she picks up the phone. But the husband wasn’t satisfied and decided that she had some how transferred the calls to Russia.

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What's the investigative process for adultery cases?

First we assess whether the investigation is feasible from a practical standpoint. If it is, and if it's legal, we begin by studying the suspect’s habits and whereabouts. We try to determine the instances when we aren’t sure what he or she may be doing. For example, if this person works all day and never goes out, maybe he or she is having an office affair. There are favored locations for this type of thing. For example, in hospitals everybody is sleeping with everyone else because of the night shifts, the long hours with nothing to do, the dark rooms with beds in them, and the vicinity to death. Another very promiscuous location is the supermarket.

Do you get more infedility cases from male or female clients?

We definitely have more female clients. Infidelity is very widespread. I would say it affects the majority of couples. Let me explain: People don't not cheat because they're virtuous or moral. Usually, it's because they don't have the right opportunity. I hope I'm not being too cynical, but that's how I see it.

Do you ever have to go undercover with a fake moustache or a wig?

Yes, particularly in cases involving the surveillance of minors and drugs. Clearly you wouldn’t send a 50-year-old suit into a club to score some MDMA. You go with the 25-year-old with ripped jeans. That's why we have such a large age range in our staff. We have 30 detectives who go from 25 to 60 years old.

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Are there a lot of women in this field?

Woman are a minority. I think it's because investigations are like fishing—it takes an infinite amount of patience. Last time I checked women don’t go fishing.

What exactly do you mean by patience?

There isn't even a remote semblance of normal working hours, or weekends. More often than not you find yourself stuck in a car for the entire day without a spare moment to go take a leak. You have to survey a certain location and sometimes the most important thing can happen in the span of ten minutes. You risk throwing away the whole day by simple distraction.

Your job kind of has a sociological aspect to it. Have you noticed anything new in modern man's troubles?

Recently we’ve been dealing with a lot of gambling, particularly with minors. It’s a real addiction. Kids are throwing away loads of money in online poker, horse races, and stuff like that. Also, figuring out whether or not kids are on drugs has grown increasingly complicated. We used to have traditional drug addicts, who'd shoot up and go steal a car radio, and you could tell they were hopped up on something from a mile away. Now, with synthetic drugs being so cheap and easy to find, it’s much more difficult. In the past, drugs were available only in certain areas, and that made the investigation much easier.

Gotcha. Has new technology had an impact on your line of work?

It really hasn’t changed too much. Basically, the same people who were dishonest in the past still are, only more effectively so. But I can say that digital photography was a real revolution in our industry. In the past, you would be out in the field all night with a huge expensive camera. You also had to wait and spend money on developing the film and making prints. We've long since switched to compact digicams that are easy to hide, and are perfect for shooting at night.

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Your job has the power to change someone’s life in a really radical way. Does that weigh on you, or do you even think about it?

No it's true. There's a woman who calls me on my birthday every year, to thank me and wish me well. Her husband was a jewelry dealer who was always away on business. Nothing wrong with that. However, this man hadn’t spent Christmas at home for a couple of years, and his wife became suspicious. We started the investigation and found out that this guy had another home, with another family, and even a kid. And this other family wasn’t on the opposite side of the world. It was about 20 miles away from where his wife lived.

Jeez. What a cad.