Before porn became boring, there were adult film directors who made the genre look good, if not acceptable. They were mostly Italians, like Giovanni “Tinto” Brass (Caligula), Aristide Massaccesi (aka Joe D’Amato of Porno Holocaust and Black Emanuelle fame), Franco Lo Cascio (aka Luca Damiano of Snow White & 7 Dwarfs fame), and also Gerardo Rocco “Gerard” Damiano (Deep Throat).
And there were others like Andy Warhol (Blue Movie), Radley Metzger, who also used the Italian pseudonym, Erich Farina (The Opening of Misty Beethoven), French-Hungarian producer Marcel Herskovitz, aka Marc Dorcel, and Japan’s Nagisa Oshima, whose film, The Realm of the Senses, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976.
The “golden era of porn” is considered to be the period between 1969 and 1984, when it was called “adult cinema,” and films were reviewed by well-known critics and openly discussed on TV talk shows. Some of the movies were even shot in 35mm and released theatrically.
In 1972, porn entered the political discourse, first with the Watergate affair when Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used the title of the porn movie Deep Throat to refer to their secret informant about President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the scandal that would eventually lead to his resignation.
Later, in 1987, Hungarian-born porn star Ilona Staller (aka Cicciolina), who was then 36 years old, became a member of Italian Parliament.
Today, porn has re-entered the political arena with the revelation that President Donald Trump was, in 2006, involved with porn actor Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels). This less-than-shocking disclosure is creating a real storm for the Trump administration, and has brought up other issues, such as a possibly illegal financial contribution to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign when Trump’s lawyer paid Clifford to keep the affair a private matter.
In the early years, the business aspect of the porn industry was controlled by Italian criminal organizations in the U.S. An Italian-American (and an Al Capone soldier) was also the first porn star, Vincenzo D’Ambrosio (aka Vincent Drucci), who filmed Bob’s Hot Story in 1923.
Today, the only things that remain of that era are Wikipedia references, a shelf of books, and about a dozen mainstream movies, with stars such as Richard Dreyfuss, Seth Rogen and George C. Scott. In 1997, Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore starred in Boogie Nights, loosely based on the life (and death) of American porn star John Holmes (1944-1988). The film received three Oscar nominations. Another mainstream movie about the porn industry is Lovelace, headlined by Sharon Stone, and based on the life of American porn actor Linda Boreman (aka Linda Lovelace, 1949-2002), who starred in Deep Throat.
Then there is the one remaining internationally known porn star: the 54-year-old Rocco Antonio Tano, aka Rocco Siffredi, who moved to Budapest in 1993 since the city has been considered the capital of porn film production since 1991 due to the abundance of available female talent (males were typically flown in from other countries).
Male talent has always been a weak spot in the porn business, and to remedy the problem Siffredi started an Academy in Budapest, where he teaches aspiring directors, writers, and actors how to become porn professionals.
Of this most fascinating of schools (which later became the topic of Siffredi Hard Academy, a TV series for Italy’s Mediaset), the porn star explained that, while “young men are attracted to the work because of the beautiful women, many fail in front of a camera.”
During one of the many recent porn awards ceremonies in Las Vegas, it was publicly acknowledged that these days, the only porn star recognized internationally and known only by his first name is Rocco Siffredi.
Siffredi, who entered the industry at the tail-end of that “golden era,” in 1987, was also a fashion model, a singer (he performed at the popular Sanremo Song Festival), a mainstream movie actor (Catherine Breillat’s Romance and Anatomie de L’enfer), and a TV docu-reality series host (Casa Siffredi for Italy’s Mediaset). In 2016, a French documentary about him, simply entitled Rocco, premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
At NATPE Budapest 2016, VideoAge met with Siffredi during a lunch meeting and, later, at a press conference, both organized by Mediaset, which was promoting Siffredi as the star of one of the company’s TV series presented at the market.
Prior to this year’s NATPE Budapest, VideoAge had a telephone “talk” with Siffredi while he visited Rome, Italy.
VideoAge: Why has porn become so boring today?
Rocco Siffredi: A dear friend of mine told me that I am the last of the romantics. Today, porn has lost its romanticism. It has become ‘mechanical.’ There is no passion. There is nothing more beautiful than reality and porn is today beyond reality, with performances that cannot be replicated [in everyday life]. It is not credible anymore, and therefore, it has lost its eroticism and has become boring.
VA: What killed the theatrical release of porn movies?
RS: Porn has always been a mirror of society. Porn produces what the public wants to buy, and the public in today’s society wants speed. It’s like going to an eatery for a ‘piatto unico’ [a TV dinner] that can be eaten fast.
VA: Why doesn’t the industry have directors like Tinto Brass, Joe D’Amato, and Gerard Damiano anymore?
RS: Because they were good at doing things that today’s public are not interested in watching.
VA: Today, with President Trump’s alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels in the news, porn is once again entering the political discourse (see Deep Throat and the Watergate affair). What is the relationship between porn and politics?
RS: Power is the greatest form of perversion. The most perverted people are politicians. Their affinity with and for sex is obvious.
VA: What is the future of porn?
RS: The future is to start all over again. First, to use all the senses nature gave us, and second to re-appreciate women. Once again: Nothing is better than reality. I envision something between the old and the new.
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