DailyDispatchOnline

Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Can you believe Netflix is promoting a porn star known for depicting violent acts towards women as a feminist icon?
Culture TV and Radio

Can you believe Netflix is promoting a porn star known for depicting violent acts towards women as a feminist icon?

T

One day following his mother’s passing, 31-year-old Rocco Tano made a spontaneous decision to undergo a circumcision. In Netflix’s new show Supersex, the main character reflects on his reasoning, stating that he wanted to experience the pain his mother went through. As he prepares for the procedure and the surgeon approaches, Rocco expresses his desire for the pain to serve as a reminder of his mother’s life.

Grief can lead individuals to act irrationally. However, in Tano’s situation, the decision to get his foreskin snipped wasn’t just a extreme way of marking the memory of his deceased loved one on his body. For Rocco Siffredi, also known as “the Italian stallion”, it could potentially put an end to his career. As he was a well-known adult film actor, his producer was devastated when he found out about the procedure, stating in the biopic that Siffredi’s member was a valuable asset. It was described as “the most magnificent and remarkable penis in existence”.

Siffredi, it’s said, has done to pornography what Mike Tyson did to boxing or Mick Jagger did to rock’n’roll: redefined the rules of his trade. With more than 1,700 films under his frequently unbuckled belt – from 1986’s timidly titled Belle d’Amour to 2022’s more descriptive Rocco’s Perverted Secretaries 3 – he is the most prolific male performer of porn that Europe has ever seen.

The impressive size of Siffredi’s tool undoubtedly played a role in his success, with him claiming it to be between 23cm and 26cm (9in to 10.2in) in interviews. However, with Rocco, size was not the only factor. Unlike other renowned porn stars like John Holmes and Ron Jeremy, Siffredi also had good looks, even when fully dressed. His sharp eyes and stylish, sun-kissed hair set him apart from his colleagues in an industry that sought male stars who viewers could relate to without feeling intimidated.

Siffredi possessed a level of emotional intelligence that allowed him to portray a variety of roles. Throughout his four-decade long career, he has performed in a range of genres, from opulent Italian period films shot on 35mm, to more crude American “gonzo” videos, and even self-parodying comedies like the popular 2012 French film, Porn in the Hood. In the early 2000s, he was featured in two critically acclaimed arthouse films by director Catherine Breillat, including 1999’s Romance and 2004’s Anatomy of Hell.

Siffredi in Catherine Breillat’s Anatomy of Hell.View image in fullscreen

Supersex takes things to the next level. Writer Francesca Manieri, known for her work on films such as L’Immensità starring Penélope Cruz and Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are, poses the question of whether Siffredi is not just a “crostini” for the intellectual woman, but also a feminist figure in his own way.

This is a thesis that heavily relies on the fact that Siffredi is Italian (unfortunately, his interesting time in Margate in the late 80s is not mentioned). The series, which Siffredi claims is 98% accurate to his real biography, takes its time to tell the story of his upbringing in Ortona, a coastal town in Abruzzo famous for its intense battles between allied and axis forces in World War II. To young Rocco (portrayed by Saul Nanni) and adult Rocco (portrayed by Alessandro Borghi), Mamma is everything and Papa is just a small role. However, he rejects her desire for him to become a priest and instead finds his origin story in the pages of an erotic photo novel called Supersex.

Rocco rebels against his traditional Italian upbringing and joins his rebel older half-brother Tomasso in Paris. While there, he explores the world of sex clubs and even gets involved in creating adult films. Adriano Giannini, who portrays Tomasso, gained recognition internationally for his role as Madonna’s love interest in the poorly-received film Swept Away directed by Guy Ritchie. This casting decision is fitting, as Tomasso personifies the “Madonna-whore complex” and struggles to maintain a relationship with his sex worker girlfriend Lucia (Jasmine Trinca) after she becomes pregnant with his child.

Rocco, unlike the older sibling he initially aspires to emulate, is shown to overcome that traditional and toxic mindset, which is why the circumcision scene is the show’s pivotal moment. When his idolised mother vanishes from his life, he does not take his revenge on other women, but on himself. “When women look at me, they see that I don’t judge them,” he says at one point. “I don’t punish them.”

Alessandro Borghi as Siffredi in Supersex.View image in fullscreen

However, there is a drawback to portraying Rocco Siffredi as the individual responsible for making mainstream porn more feminine, and it has caused controversy online. To claim that “rough” sex is a defining feature of Siffredi’s films would be an understatement: spitting, slapping, and choking are all common occurrences. The film Supersex hints at, but does not fully depict, a notorious video in which Siffredi has sex with a woman from behind while forcing her head into a toilet bowl.

During last month’s Berlin film festival, Siffredi discussed his reputation as a dominant performer who engages in rough sexual acts. However, he explains that this has never been an issue for him because he always works in collaboration with his partners. They discuss and decide together whether or not to incorporate certain types of scenes. According to the film Supersex, Siffredi’s behavior aligns with this account. He only began incorporating rough sex into his performances as a result of what he learned from his female partners, and the first time he engaged in such acts was at the request of his partner.

Paulita Pappel, a pornographic film-maker and intimacy coordinator from Spain who currently resides in Berlin, acknowledges that there exists a significant group of women who enjoy rough sexual encounters, a preference that she also shares. While this recognition is important, Pappel also acknowledges the issue of violence against women historically present in pornography and emphasizes that it cannot be dismissed. Despite this, she expresses doubt about whether Siffredi should be considered a pioneer for women in the porn industry due to the heavily sensational and trendy nature of his films, which she does not view as feminist.

Unfortunately, due to the age restriction enforced by Netflix, Supersex does not fully delve into the intricacies of Siffredi’s character as much as his illicit work or independent films do. The only up-close glimpse of Rocco’s intimate organ is when it’s wrapped in bandages post-surgery. While Manieri includes a backstory and a traumatic plot to explain his complexities, it seems that the true captivating elements lie within the sexual aspects.

The religious symbolism of the circumcision scene pales in comparison to the ending of Rocco, a 2016 documentary by French film-makers Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, in which Siffredi directs his own farewell-to-porn film and chooses to carry a giant wooden cross on his back through the hallways of the studio.

The famed Italian actor, who previously retired in 2004, 2015, and most recently in 2022, will turn 60 this May. He is currently married to Rosa Caracciolo, a Hungarian-born actor whom he previously co-starred with in adult film parodies of The Bodyguard and Tarzan. Together, they have two adult sons. During an interview in Berlin, he mentioned, “My sex life is still very active, but it is no longer uncontrollable.” To celebrate his birthday, his wife has planned a special trip to the Congo to see his favorite animal, gorillas, in person. “My wife is aware of my love for gorillas.” In Siffredi’s case, reality is truly more bizarre than fiction.

Source: theguardian.com