WMN role models: Cicciolina

Sex, free love, flowers in her air and a seat in the Italian parliament: the many faces of Ilona Staller

By Alessandra Nava

Cicciolina’s life was so incredible that she herself wrote an autobiography titled “Per amore e per forza” (Mondadori). She appears on the cover as a new, way more provocative, Venus of Botticelli, emerging from a dark smoothed background in all her splendor. The book was born to tell a story which was not only about porn and a frivolous life, but about a woman whose troubled and yet surprising life could be an example to learn, and maybe to follow. Here’s a short recap of who was Cicciolina, and why she’s a role model.
Ilona Staller was born in Budapest in 1951, from a middle class family. When she was just a teenager she started working as a model and won several beauty pageants, and at that time she revealed she was secretly recruited by the Hungarian intelligence to become a spy. Still very young, she got married with an Italian client who used to stay in the picturesque hotel on the Danube where Ilona worked.
She moved to Italy in the early 70s and eventually met the man that would change her life, Riccardo Schicchi, better known as King of Porn. The many-talented scout hired her as the narrating voice of a radio program maliciously titled “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”. It aired from midnight and the audience used to call to tell their erotic fantasies, which somehow became partially real through Ilona’s voice, who addressed her fans as “cicciolinis”. A star was born.
Her career went on with cinema and TV. She played some never seen before audacious roles, such as a lesbian girl, and became a must-have guest in some popular TV programs.
During the wild 80s she got her porn career started. She played beside many other pornostars such as the super sexy Moana Pozzi, a young woman from the South of Italy, discovered by Diva Futura, the agency founded by Cicciolina and Schicchi.
Long blonde hair, matte red lips, defined eyebrows, pink cheeks, flowery crowns and chaste white outfits, she embodied free love and sex, also promoted by the hippy culture. Under her discrete long skirt she hid some very sexy stockings and pubic hair shaped as a heart. She was beautifully wild and inviting, being the innocent ying to Moana’s sexier yang.
In the meantime she entered the political world with the Italian Radical Party beside Marco Pannella. She fought for some very liberal propositions, such as weed legalization, the emancipation of the LGBT community and the rights of animals. She was then elected as a deputy, and of course she made headlines. Italians loved her or hated her, but she was the proof that a woman could be as many things as she wants. Her fight soon continued with her own party, founded with Schicchi once again, called “Partito dell’Amore”.
In 1993 she retired from porn and started a brand new chapter of her life. She met Jeff Koons, a subversive and already iconic contemporary artist, and she became his muse, his wife, and the mother of their baby Ludwig. The two of them gave life to a series of photographs titled “Made in Heaven”. They portrayed themselves as baroque Greek gods devoted to sex and pleasure. These exaggerated and yet amazing pictures are worth millions of dollars.
Her life is a continuous flow of ups and downs. She was the one who sued R.E.M., who were alleged to copy one of her songs, and she was the one who sold to Walt Disney the rights of her image to recreate Jessica Rabbit’s sinuous body. Today, she took a lien out on her house and she sells her used panties to a few nostalgic admirers. She’s the ambassador of 2.0 meet&greets: the lucky ones pay for a pizza or a chess game (she’s known to be insanely good) with her. In the meantime, she sued Sotheby’s for using her image and gain money through the “Made in Heaven” series.
Cicciolina will always be the wild beautiful young girl who escaped a strict world to become a profane goddess of love and sex, a one of a kind character who gave inspiration to many women (think about Myss Keta).