By Frank Lovece Special to Newsday Updated May 22, 2018, 8:24 AM
Jim Coniglione’s a real character. Literally: Owner of the Scoopy Doo dog-waste disposal service in Locust Valley, he appears as an extra in the Netflix film “The Week of” (“Fat Italian Wedding Guest”) and Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “The Irishman” (“Teamster”), according to the businessman’s IMDb page. A self-described “entre-manure,” he also dabbles in screenwriting, YouTube videos, and reality-TV series, including Discovery’s new “Sticker Shock,” in which folks get their vintage cars appraised — an antique roadster show, if you will. Coniglione and his 1970 VW Dune Buggy appear on the episode airing Wednesday at 10 p.m.
“I love him — how could you not?” asks appraiser Randy Carlson, who judges whether Coniglione’s vehicle is a coveted Meyers Manx, the first dune buggies with fiberglass bodies. “Such energy — he’s so positive. A real super-fun guy,” Carlson says of the Glen Cove born-and-raised 52-year-old, who owned a tire store before cornering the dog-dung market. “Fun both on and off the set. He’s awesome.”
Take Coniglione’s story about how he got the Dune Buggy. “My doctor, Charlie Gambino, said, ‘You’re too fat!’ So I start walkin’ around” for exercise near his business. Four doors down he saw a Dune Buggy in a home’s garage. “And I go crazy because I love dune buggies! And it’s orange — and I love orange! I put a sticky note on [the owner’s] front door.” You carry sticky notes when you go for walks? “It was close to the office, so I went back to get sticky. It turned out it was my old mailman from my tire shop! It was sitting outside for, like, seven years. It was in bad shape.”
He bought it for $1,500 and spent a few thousand fixing it up. And while Carlson cautions that dune buggies are “probably one of the least-safe vehicles on the planet, a piece of plastic on a tin [Volkswagen] chassis. In an accident, you are the crumple zone,” Coniglione isn’t deterred from driving it.
“I go everywhere with this thing!” he enthuses. “I’m all over. I drove it up to Bear Mountain, to the Volkswagen festival out there. It passed New York State inspection. They’re a little scared out there in California,” where the appraiser lives, Coniglione jokingly suggests. “This is New York!”
Indeed: His family has lived in Glen Cove for four generations, having emigrated from Saturno, Italy, in the Campania region, and Licodia Eubea, Sicily. One great-grandfather worked for the railroad, one grandfather for Grumman, Coniglione says. “My dad was in the electronics field, a production manager, and my mom worked in the Glen Cove school system,” where Coniglione graduated from high school before going on to a business degree from SUNY Delhi.
His wife, Kathy, and their 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, might soon be able to say Coniglione worked not just in business but in reality TV. “We filmed a pilot [about Scoopy Doo] for Animal Planet four years ago, then they got cold feet because the new CEO thought maybe somebody will be turned off by poo,” he believes. “So we were approached by a new production company out of L.A., and we’re in the process now of developing a new reality show.”
One can only hope that, ahem, it gets picked up.