The character of Vito Spatafore was groundbreaking – a gay gangster in the world of the ultra-violent Sopranos television drama.

Of course, his was not a Queer as Folk story arc of self-discovery and slow acceptance.

After successfully hiding his sexuality for over 40 episodes, the mob finally clicked that Vito was gay.

He went on the run, came back and was eventually beaten to death with pool cues, then sodomised.

Now the actor who played Vito, Joseph R Gannascoli, is under fire from a gay media monitoring group in the US for his part in an advertising campaign for pool cues.

“The Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has condemned a grotesque, violent new product marketed by actor Joseph R. Gannascoli and Rockwell Billiards,” GLAAD said in a release.

The Sopranos has authorised his name to be used on a pool stick branded with the phrase “A Cue to Die For.”

“The new product plays on the fact that Vito was beaten to death on The Sopranos with pool cues and then sodomised with one.”

Rockwell Billiards, an Oregon-based company, proudly announced the new line of pool cues in a recent press release stating:

“The cue is named A Cue to Die For following on from Mr Gannascoli’s theme from his cookbook novel, A Meal to Die For.”

“It’s highly inappropriate that what served as a very real example of the hateful violence the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community faces is now being used as a gimmick to sell a product,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano.

“The insensitive inclusion of the pool cue in the To Die For marketing theme betrays the legacy of The Sopranos character and is unacceptable.”