Magic City: Ben the Butcher in Black
Danny Huston as Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, sadistic and volatile Miami gangster
Miami Beach, spring 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Castles Made of Sand” (Episode 1.03, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired April 20, 2012)
– “Time and Tide” (Episode 1.08, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired June 1, 2012)
– “Crossroads” (Episode 2.04, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired July 12, 2013)
– “World in Changes” (Episode 2.05, dir: Simon Cellan Jones, aired July 19, 2013)
– “…And Your Enemies Closer” (Episode 2.07, dir: Simon Cellan Jones, aired August 2, 2013)
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
In these waning weeks of spring, some folks may be anxious to get an early start to summer fun, so light up a Habanas Partagas cigar and head for a warm weekend retreat – or at least a Sunday in the sun – in the spirit of Magic City‘s baddest antagonist.
What’d He Wear?
Ben the Butcher’s bright pastels often disguised his villainy and blended him in among the neon sights and scenes of atomic age Miami Beach, but he would also let his dark side show with shirts like this black “pocketless guayabera”.
Black isn’t the best color for a sunny afternoon in the tropics, but the lightweight linen material and its roomy size ensures the dark fabric’s greater breathability under the hot sun.
One of the defining aspects of a guayabera is the presence of alforzas, the pleated vertical strips on the front and back of the shirt. Ben’s shirt has two alforzas down the front of the shirt and a single alforza down the back, all beginning at a button-accented pointed top yoke.
Ben’s shirt isn’t a true guayabera, which supposedly gained its name for the four pockets stitched onto the front by a Cuban seamstress for her husband to carry guayabas in the field. But, like a true guayabera, Ben’s black shirt has a straight hem across the bottom, split by a widely-spaced three-button vent on each side, and is correctly worn untucked.
When this outfit was auctioned, it was confirmed that this black shirt is indeed a size XL, made by Renato. Renato was one of several manufacturers, including Anto Beverly Hills and Ramon Puig, that made Ben the Butcher’s on-screen pocketless guayabera shirts.
The shirt is styled similarly to Ben’s previously featured baby blue shirt – also made by Renato – with its unbuttoned spread collar, fly front, and squared double (French) cuffs that add a touch of luxury to his leisure garb.
At least three different sets of cuff links are seen with this shirt through the show’s two-season run. Apropos his name, they all feature diamonds. For the shirt’s first appearance during a cabana poker game in “Castles Made of Sand” (1.03), Ben wears a set of large silver squared-framed cuff links with a large diamond suspended in the center.
By the next season, in “Crossroads” (2.04), he is wearing a set of gold rectangles accented with a field of small diamonds, seen above as he holds his cigar. For the rest of the second season, Ben again wears a set of gold rectangle cuff links but with only a single diamond in the center.
Light-colored linen trousers are a must for any beach-dweller, and Ben’s bottom half is frequently swaddled in cream Brooks Brothers trousers made from 100% Irish linen. The trousers have a zip fly, straight side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with the inner cuffing visible after his impulsive dip into the pool with Lily.
The trousers worn in “Castles Made of Sand” (1.08) that were included in the aforementioned auction had a size 35 waist and 30 inseam. He wears them with a slim black leather belt that coordinates with his shoes.
Ben’s leisurely approach to life comes across in his choice of footwear, a pair of black leather bicycle-toe loafers always worn without socks. The shoes have a strap across the vamp with a silver squared buckle, though it’s not the traditional monk strap shoe.
Magic City aficionado and expert Eric J. Tidd, curator of the digital Miramar Playa, owns a pair of Danny Huston’s screen-worn size 44 shoes and has shared a photo confirming that they are the now-discontinued ALDO M-19261 model… still available on Amazon in a variety of sizes for less than $40.
Ben’s choice of jewelry is predictable; many associate gold pinky rings like his with classic gangsterdom, and his has a large diamond setting, again calling out his name.
The wristwatch he wears in the first season has a round gold-colored case on a black leather strap with gold non-numeric markers and hands on a black dial.
Ben wears a different gold watch in the second season, a Hamilton Electric on a dark brown alligator strap. The major cosmetic difference is the Hamilton’s light silver dial and gold numeric markers.
This is primarily an “indoor” outfit for Ben Diamond, but he does venture outside in “World in Changes” (2.05) to briefly intimidate his wife Lily during a massage. He shields his eyes from the sun – and adds a more menacing, less human element – by wearing his black plastic-framed Victory Suntimer “Palm Beach” wayfarer-style sunglasses with dark gray lenses.
This same model of sunglasses, VCS 752, is still available from the Victory Optical Collection site for $210.
How to Get the Look
If you’re going to wear black at the beach, do it like Ben Diamond: choose a summer-weight fabric like linen or lightweight cotton and pair it with contrasting cream trousers and a meanacing smirk.
- Black lightweight linen/cotton “pocketless guayabera” shirt with spread collar, covered front fly placket, 3-button side vents, double/French cuffs, and quadruple-pleat alforza strips down each front panel with decorative buttons
- Cream linen flat front trousers with belt loops, zip fly, straight/on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Slim black leather belt
- Black leather bicycle-toe loafers with silver-toned buckle straps
- Gold rectangular diamond-studded cuff links
- Gold pinky ring with set-in diamond
- Gold wristwatch with a dark leather strap
- Victory Optical Collection Suntimer “Palm Beach” VCS 752 black-framed wayfarer-style sunglasses with dark gray lenses
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series.
One more word and I’ll be wearing your blue fucking eyes as cuff links.
Thanks so much for all the great information. I’m really enjoying the Magic City posts and hope to see a few more. I decided I wanted to recreate Ben Diamond’s look for an upcoming event. I found what I believe is the exact shirt, black pocketless long-sleeve french cuff guayabera at http://www.guayaberasetc.com/Playa-Guayabera-Collection-121-Playa-Guayabera.htm. I ordered on Friday and it arrived Monday. Pleasantly surprised to find it is made in USA and even had the Renato Collezoine label inside. The website also offers custom colors so I plan to order a few more when budget allows. Just wanted to share in case anyone else is looking for these pocketless longsleeve guayaberas. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for sharing. Wow – it looks like you definitely found the Ben Diamond shirt! I’m glad to hear that you had such success and please feel free to share photos, if you’d like.