Alex Svenson: Hey, Shorty! How are things? What have you been up to?
Shorty Rossi: Things are going great! I’ve been really busy this year with the tour (book, expos, cigars), filming another online series with Animal Planet called, What Would Shorty Do?, opening up a security company in Mexico, filming two different pilots, and starting a tour in Latin America. This year we are traveling to over 40 cities.
AS: Wow, you’re keeping pretty busy! So now that your show has wound down, what’s your focus this year?
SR: I am really focusing on my cigars this year, trying to expand my brand and platform. I have been going to Nicaragua for the past 3-4 years now, learning everything there is to know about the cigar industry. I love this industry. Sitting down with fellow enthusiasts at events who enjoy my cigars is amazing.
AS: About that new show you mentioned earlier, are there any details you can share?
SR: The show we are working on is called, Shorty Unleashed, which is a combination travel and pet show with an Anthony Bourdain twist. At the end of each episode, we always finish up in a cigar lounge. I like to push the limits of the networks, and in this case that means smoking a cigar on TV.
AS: That is one of the things I admire most about you, the fact that you love cigars and are not afraid to show it. So besides just at the end of the episode, I assume we will be seeing you with an iconic cigar in hand all throughout the new series?
SR: Of course you will see me with one of my cigars in the new series, even more than you did on Animal Planet’s Pit Boss. It was always a project to smoke a cigar on Animal Planet. We had plenty of tricks on how to get the cigar on TV, and each new season was a struggle, but I usually won.
AS: So just how many cigars do you smoke a day? Any favorites or any sort of rotation among your blends?
SR: On a normal day, I can smoke anywhere from three to four cigars. When I’m doing a cigar event or when I’m in Nicaragua, that number can go up to ten a day. I like either smoking a San Bajito or Diesel Shorty Hair of Dog in the morning with coffee. After lunch, I usually go for Diesel Shorty Grind, ACID Shorty, or Natural Shorty. After dinner, I always smoke a Diesel Shorty Original with a glass or two of red wine. The Punisher Shorty is one that I smoke with a fine steak or at a BBQ. I am very proud of my San Bajito since it is the only cigar I blended completely on my own at Nestor Plasencia’s factory.
SR: Great, thanks! Partnering up with Drew Estate offers my fans a wider variety to choose from. I started out with AJ Fernandez and the Diesel brand and then went to Nestor Plasencia to expand my own brand. Now I’m working with Drew Estate, one of the industry’s top cigar makers, to take things to the next level.
AS: So now your list of partners includes Drew Estate, AJ Fernandez, and Nestor Plasencia. How is it working with such a consortium of talent?
SR: All three of my partners are great to work with, and I love all three of them. They have all done some amazing things with cigars. I admire AJ Fernandez for his blending, Nestor for so many choices of great tobacco, and Drew Estate for their innovative marketing and their damn good quality product.
AS: Throughout this whole interview, I have yet to ask about your dog rescue. I’m sure our readers would love to know how it is going.
SR: We now focus more on breed awareness, supporting spay and neuter projects, and fight BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). We still do rescue, but we find it more effective to travel the world and help fight these laws that are destroying our breed.
AS: So where will Shorty be in five years? Do you plan on remaining in the cigar and entertainment industries or are there any new ventures that may mature by then?
SR: If you had asked me this question when I was on parole from Folsom State Prison in October 1998, I never could have imagined the thought of being a cigar rights activist, cigar blender, author, producer, world traveler, bully rights activist, and philanthropist. But I do see myself in the cigar world until the day I die because I truly love being a part of the industry. I think entertainment will always be a part of my life as well because I love making people laugh and pissing them off at the same time. Maybe in five years I will have my own cigar factory in Nicaragua!
AS: Anything else to add before we wrap up?
SR: Just a huge thanks to all my fans and your folks at Cigar.com. I couldn’t do this without all of you. Also, I want to let everyone know they can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@shortyrossi). Also, take a look at my new website, “My Life in Cigars” (www.shortycigar.com). This is where I talk about how I got into this industry, the process of cigar making, and my line of cigars.