EAST HAVEN, CT — For five years, former World Wrestling Federation wrestler Leonard Inzitari, known in the 1980s and 90s as Mario Mancini, and his partners including another former wrestler, former mayoral candidate “Big” Steve Tracey, have run Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling at 662 Coe Ave., in East Haven.
Unbeknownst to them, Inzitari said, their business is in a commercial zone that prohibits adult entertainment. But even if it was known to them, Inzitari asked Patch rhetorically, how is adult entertainment synonymous with wrestling?
In East Haven zoning regulations written decades ago, wrestling was included as being an adult venue. And that is what informed a Zoning Board of Appeal cease and desist order to Paradise Alley saying that the commercial zone where the business has lived for years does not allow a number of adult “personal services,” which, the zoning rules read, includes modeling, theatrical performances and “wrestling studios.”
A furor erupted when Inzitari shared online that his business was being shuttered and “categorized as pornography, adult entertainment, fetish wrestling,” a now since removed Change.org petition about the cease and desist order read.
“I was shocked when my daughter texted me,” to say a letter had arrived shutting down the wrestling studio. “They threw me in with porn? We’ve been here five years. My product is rated G. There’s no vulgarity, no gestures. I was thinking, ‘You’ve just served a cease and desist order on Barnum & Bailey.’ We’re rated G. We had one wrestler call a kid ‘fat,’ and we let him go …for a year. That’s how we operate.”
Inzitari’s wrestling business he runs with form wrestler Paul Roma, Paul Perez, and Tracey, has participated in myriad fundraisers that have benefited the community, he said. The business raised $10,000 for a scoreboard at East Haven High School, and funds and donations for a school glee club, the East Haven Food Pantry, Mission 22, and Juvenile diabetes.
“This is our town. We love East Haven. We’re committed to helping people. And we do that through our wrestling shows. How is that not G-rated?”
Tomorrow night please tune into this world wide broadcast as my brother, partner, talent coordinator for PAPW Paul Roma talks about the current status of PAPW and the town of East Haven Connecticut.
Inzitari initially said that he felt the cease and desist order was “politically motivated.” He claimed there was “political dislike for my brother Big Steve.”
A little more than a week after the Aug. 28 cease and desist letter, both Inzitari and Tracey would call Mayor Joseph A. Carfora and thank him for what happened next, Town Attorney Michael Luzzi told Patch.
In a late night conference call with Luzzi and other town officials, at Carfora’s urging “to fix this; this is wrong,” it was decided that the “obsolete” zoning regulations need to be re-written.
Carfora had been contacted by Town Assessor Michael Milici who suggested that the situation was one that could and should be straightened out.
“Clearly, wrestling and some other uses mentioned, do not belong in those zoning regs, which were written more than 20 years ago,” Luzzi told Patch.
Luzzi said that theatrical performances and wrestling shouldn’t be lumped in with adult entertainment uses like adult videos, books or other adult “personal uses.”
“The regs are obsolete and that shouldn’t be in there,” Luzzi said.
A recommendation was made to the Planning & Zoning Commission last week to stay the cease and desist order, which means Inzitari can operate.
Now, the planning and zoning commission must set about to re-write the regulations to remove “wrestling studios” and some other uses from the commercial zoning rules that do not fit the definition of adult entertainment.
Following that approval from planning, Inzitari posted a video to Facebook where he thanked Carfora for intervening and for “doing the right thing.”
Inzitari said in the video that he was grateful to Milici who acted as a “go-between,” the town’s zoning lawyer Jennifer N. Coppola, and he thanked Carfora.
“The mayor rectified the situation expeditiously,” Inzitari said, but noted that while, “We are very grateful, remember we have done a lot for the town of East Haven.”