Rome. Thirty-three degrees. Temperature rising.

Cicciolina is surprised to find another visitor waiting for her, but after a moment”s resistance, she”s more than accommodating. In fact she rolls her top down to reveal tanned breasts and hard nipples. She lowers her eyes, smiles, then lowers her head and kneels. Cicciolina, I can tell you, had a very big mouth and a considerable appetite. She uses both hands, a lot of lipstick, and leaves her lace gloves and white high heels on. I can”t believe it’s happening. But it’s happening.

Isn”t this how it was always going to be, a meeting with Cicciolina ? Don’t you think ? You never can tell with Cicciolina. Virtually anything is possible.

So what do you think ? Who”s the biggest cockteaser, me or Cicciolina ? Me actually.

The above scene is a detail (a very minor detail) from probably her most notorious movie, Cicciolina Number One directed by her manager Riccardo Schicchi.

Given the very British fuss over the likes of Cynthia Payne, Fiona Wright and The Singing Detective, it is perhaps not surprising that, despite the vast coverage her election to the Italian Parliament received, the British really have no idea just what Cicciolina is, or what she does. At best, they have a very quaint, tame idea of what she does. In fact, what she does is… everything.

Number One is hardcore porn. Cicciolina is shaved and very sore, and that”s just the start of the film. She goes on to fuck her visitor in numerous ways – from behind, from the front, crouching over him, sitting on him, legs round the ears, legs round the waist, head arched back touching the ground and more. Licking her lips, rubbing herself, she does it on one leg, two legs, takes three at once. Her snake finishes the job. She uses dolls, and a stuffed dog, and displays her much vaunted ability to piss far and long.

And yet as her cute, giggling commentary (“I love you lots and lots and lots”) confirms, in Number One Cicciolina plays the innocent. She and her friends take a trip to the country, put frankfurters, champagne bottles and ping-pong balls to imaginative use, whilst Cicciolina”s colleague “Banda” gives fresh, raw significance to the terms “going down on the farm” and “horse-rearing.”

Ask anyone who has seen it what Number One is like and the response will almost certainly be a disbelieving “Horses !”

“Banda,” Cicciolina explains with a giggle, “is a very strange girl. Very, very individual.”
Well, you can”t help thinking, she can talk…

“Inside the Chamber, I”ll behave like a nun,” said Ilona “Cicciolina” Staller, Italian Member of Parliament upon election a year ago.

Such has been the case, and still is when, after a dozen cancellations, I arrive for my appointment at the Chamber of Deputies, Rome.

There are half a dozen hacks in the lobby which she seems to be using as her office. All are from different countries, all are given ten minutes each. A Yugoslavian journalist and I agree to share our interview and insist on half an hour. Between sex and politics, I got for sex every time.

Not so the Yugoslavian, who speaks better Italian and, anyway, Cicciolina is not really in the frame of mind for the sort of funny flirting she uses to sweet-talk interviews at her studio-home in Via Cassia, where she talks of fucking her fluffy toys, and reveals her not-very-hidden talents, even showing one journalist a mole she has discovered.

“Oh, you heard about that. It’s just inside the left lip,” she giggles. “Open your ears !” she snaps at me at one point, slapping me on the wrist when I misinterpret her Italian. “That’s your punishment, you naughty boy,” she chides me, later patting me on both cheeks, when I flirt back with her.

Her mood changes in moments, but for the most part she seems respectful of the setting and her status as Onorevole. Her flat giggling sometimes suggests that after a year in office she’s tiring of her image as the silly, sniggering nymph, expected to be provocative or shocking in response to questions about her extensive sexual activities that she’s already answered a thousand times before. (I just wanted to ask her what the snake feels like.)

She’s an expert at diverting questions with replies like, “Aren’t you interested in the fact I founded one of the world’s earliest Green Parties in 1979 ?”

Cicciolina has just returned from Japan and her silver metal briefcase is packed full of photographs from fans and letters some of them with as much as £200 in cash, one of them signed, “With the admiration of all the men in the world, love, a fan.”

She’s dressed in the pink, tight, elasticised dress that she’s made her trademark, with pink high heels and stockings and, as ever, a pearl butterfly headband squaring off her face. Her eyebrows are squared off by rust-coloured eyebrow pencil and even her lips are painted into a square slash. Her eyes are hard. It’s these that give her a masculine look in photographs when she’s not smiling.

Otherwise, the sweet Italian accent, petulant mischievousness and minesweepers going to the Gulf, and against sexual censorship; she has toured many barracks of teenagers doing their military service, and she insists that her attendance record is better than that of many of her colleagues.

“Cicciolina is committed,” she squeals in protest. “When the Radicals have a march about Third World poverty, I’ll be there. When I’m not there, I’m often continuing my arguments on sexual freedom around the world, signing up members to the Party. Panella has been terrific but other Radicals undervalue the potential I have. I just want to be used.”
I have a job not to splutter.

“For instance, in Japan, I only sang one song, and not naked – probably you could see a bit of my nipple and just by chance, because when I raised my arms, it came out – but the Gala raised over £ 350,000 some of it for the prevention of AIDS, which I presented to the Japanese Minister myself, and the rest for a refugee camp for Cambodians and Vietnamese. I didn’t go there for my own business, as some Radicals and the Italian papers have claimed. I’m very proud of making my speeches and asking parliamentary questions, preaching sexual freedom around the world and in front of millions of tape recorders like yours.”

As she says this, her salary arrives. “Nine million, seven hundred and forty-eight thousand lire (approximately £48,000). Yes, a lot. But… there’s a “but”. I have to give sixty percent to the Party, so why doesn’t the party love me ? I’m not able to do my shows anymore, because of the pornography clampdown – though I’d like to – so our business is no better than it was before…” There’s still considerate speculation, though, that Staller is a mere puppet for the elusive Schicchi.

“Everybody always asks me if “Cicciolina” was invented or if it’s really the way I am. I tell you, you can’t invent personality. People have tried. There are lots of porno stars, but none of them get elected or sell out their shows like I do. I must have some kind of charm, don’t you think ?”

She smiles her sweetest smile and flutters her eyelashes.
“After a year, the world’s press is still interested in me. People stop me in the street everywhere I go to talk to me, kiss me, touch me. So, for as long as people permit me to be Cicciolina, I will be.”

In recent months she’s been unable to “perform” in Italy because, she says, of the “intimidation from the police and the magistrates.” It has been suggested, however, that she’s been acting as manager for other artists.

Suddenly demur pout confirm her simplicity, even innocence. This is terribly disconcerting, especially when she refers to “Cicciolina” in the third person throughout. Such simplicity is obviously cunning, but it also seems natural. It’s no accident that “Cicciolina” means in essence “little cutie”, or that she strives to give the appearance of some Heidi-like doll. And yet in her films, she’s performing every trick of the trade, known to every porn star, for real.

At one point I leave the interview to photocopy Cicciolina’s AIDS certificate for her. On the tape, afterwards, I find the female Yugoslavian journalist asking her, “Do you think he’s trying to get off with you ?”
Cicciolina says “Maybe.” “Would you sleep with him if he wants to ?” says the journalist.
“I haven’t got time,” Cicciolina tells her. “I never have time anymore.”

Ilona Staller was born in Budapest thirty-seven years ago (or so she claims), the second daughter of an obstetrician and a civil servant. A former medial student, her modelling career blossomed after she married an Italian and came to Italy in 1972. She became a household name four years later after the de-regulation of Italian radio and the launch of her phone-in show on “sex and love” for Radio Luna. Not to mention her cinema and video-only films such as Hot Lips, Boiling Meat, Atomic Orgy and Chocolate Bananas, all of which the Italians categorise as Porno Hard.

“It was a marriage of convenience, to get Italian citizenship, yes,” admits Staller. “I still go back to Hungary, but not often. I don’t have time. My family’s very happy with my success, although sometimes the papers in Hungary say nasty things about me. They are a very modern, harmonious family who’ve always loved me. I’ve never been shouted at by my mother or father.

“I used to go to discos on Saturday and Sunday afternoons – my father always gave me a certain freedom – but I always had to be home by ten o’clock. My mother gave me my sexual education when I was very young. Thanks to my mother, I was a photo-model when I was only 13, posing naked. Yes, sure, not many girls did that. I don’t remember when I lost my virginity, maybe 18, but I’d already done all the preliminaries. Now I’m proposing mandatory sex education lessons in schools. I never ever thought about becoming a politician or an artist. I collected photographs of film stars, people like Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe. I spend my childhood between working as a model and living in the country, with nature.”

Having achieved national notoriety for her films and explicit live shows, Staller was placed forty-ninth on the list of fifty Radical Party candidates, fighting last year’s June elections on her Party’s progressive policies on issues like divorce, drugs, abortion and, strangely, feminism. Attracting a large protest vote, the Radicals – always described as “unorthodox” and “maverick” – are the seventh largest of Italy”s twelve major parties, with less than three percent of the vote. However, the skilful, provocative co-ordination of Parliamentary scams and extra-Parliamentary games orchestrated by the Party’s founder, Marco Panella, has put them firmly in the limelight, notably as a result of their controversial choice of candidates. These have included singers, actresses, the disgraced-then-reprieved TV presenter Enzo Tortora, and Toni Negri, a political spokesman for the Red Brigade who made the most of his new found Parliamentary Immunity by fleeing to France.

Aided by her manager Riccardo Schicchi, Staller’s campaign snowballed, taking Panella and even herself by surprise. Capitalising on yet another dreary election and the Italians” weariness of the statement and backbiting involved in their five-party coalition Government, Staller embarked upon a largely topless campaign in her Roman electoral district of Lazio. A series of shows featured her at with her python Pito-Pito and her infamous “Golden showers” routine, all with able-bodied support from the machine-gun-and-leather nymphs from Schicchi”s Diva Futura agency.

With slogans like VOTE FOR A GREEN FROM THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT and GROPE YOUR LOCAL MP, Staller’s version of openness restored the Italians” faith in politics and politicians, and now even her staunchest critics usually finish their trades against her by admitting “she’s more honest than most of the others.” Sexual Politics had never been so prevalent.

“I’m not making an anti-system gesture. This is very serious for me. In my shows I always preach nature, ecology, sexual freedom to all my Cicciolina, my children of flowers, those people who really live their sexuality. I don’t believe pornography exists. I say everybody should do everything openly.”

On the strength of 20,000 votes, Staller finished second on the Radicals” list, just behind Panella himself, and won her seat in the Chamber of Deputies – the Italian equivalent of the US House of Representatives.

Her victory had numerous consequences – not least for Panella, who found himself almost totally isolated in his support for her. He told one Italian porn magazine, “Cicciolina is a lovely girl who has chosen her career as a porno star, which is… OK, a slightly debatable occupation. But nobody is forced into looking at her, or admiring her. She doesn’t harm anyone – not like the arms dealers, the heroin dealers, the corrupt politicians we have here.”

The Radicals talk of throwing her out, the State Television channels have banned her, and the Italian Association of Bishops recently pronounced itself “too saddened to express our feelings”. It all sums up the feeling of dismay in some quarters of Italian society that the world’s best-known representative of Italian democracy is a woman who makes her living sticking live pythons up her bum.

The presence of a “porno star” in Parliament has incited heated debates about Electoral Reform, a reconsideration of the Parliamentary Immunity (or “PI”) laws that protect MPs from criminal prosecution (despite Staller, MPs recently voted to keep PI, no doubt because they may need it themselves one day) and a clampdown on pornography. The Italian people, however, have remained typically indifferent to the failings of their electoral system and are unconcerned about the proliferation of hardcore porn mags and films, particularly in the light of the generally low level sexual violence or child abuse in Italy. There seems to be considerable fondness for the Onorevole Staller.

In the meantime when Staller talks of running for the Radicals in the European Parliament, the Party has accused her of financial irregularities, poor attendance and of exploiting her status for personal profit. For the first months she was ostracised by all except those very progressive feminists who claimed Staller was exploiting men’s frustrations and weaknesses to her own ends.

“I want to be a feminist up to a certain point,” she claims now, “but I want to be liked by men – women are made for this, I don’t want to not be liked by men. Ever feminists should want this. Feminists always say it’s for the woman to decide what to do with her body, which is exactly what I’m doing with mine. So no one is more feminist than I am !”

In the last nine months, Staller has made speeches against Italian repression.
“When I was in France, they blitzed all Rome”s porn shops. Twenty police came to the Diva Futura agency, sequestered all our videos. I tabled a parliamentary question about these raids. My artiste “Banda” has been prevented by magistrates from doing shows. This isn’t democratic.

Forced abroad, Staller hasn’t lost her happy knack for publicity. In Paris she met up with fellow Radical MP, Negri, the exiled Red Brigade spokesman, and Soviet dissident Leonid Pliutsch who said their encounter was “more serious than the Reagan-Gobachev meeting”. She was arrested in Belgium for baring more than her soul; likewise in Israel, When she tried to strip at the Wailing Wall. All her shows mix topless singing and violin playing with striptease and speeches on Party policy.

She’s against military service, hunting, censorship, armaments and the age of consent and is in favour of sex facilities for prisoners. She is, to say the least, unorthodox.

Staller’s policy on nuclear energy is “to make love under the warm sun instead”; she considers paedophilia “a terribly long word for kiddies fucking”; and she once stood naked in Piazza del Popolo holding a radioactive artichoke “in protest at all the naughty Cicciolina who’ve poisoned the air”. Her “Golden Showers” shows – where she splashes her audience (and voters) with her urine – have had photographers complaining about damage to cameras and saw one bashful female journalist praising Staller’s ability to “go” in the presence of so many strangers.

Why do you piss on people ?
“That’s the way I am. The show, which is called “Perversion”, treats all the “sins” – the Pope calls them sins, I call them pleasures – of modern times. It’s a journey through today’s sexual habits – some penetration, some sex with animals, and some weeing.”

Tell me about perversion. Does perversion exist ?
“The perversion of human beings exists, but I don’t think I’m perverted. I simple live my sexuality freely. The Pope says make love to procreate, not for pleasure. I say make love for pleasure, not to procreate. What the Pope says isn’t important. For me, the shows mean I can speak with my fans, directly, spend a happy hour with them, singing, having great fun.”

Tell me about your films. How much is simulated ?
“Oh they’re very beautiful. And totally unsimulated. It’s all real, darling. Why are you so interested in sex all the
time ? You’re sure you’re a real journalist ? I know my films are very hard to find in England. That Mrs Thatcher should have her ears cut off ! I make my films because that way many of my fans can fall in love with me. They get to know me through my films. For me, being in front of the camera is an act of love. It’s awful that there’s this witch-hunt against me. I’m the modern Joan of Arc. I mean, pornography has existed in Italy, in the newsstands and cinemas, for twenty years and they’re attacking me to frighten off less well-known people. But now they can’t touch me because I have immunity.”

Among the charges against her which have been dropped as a result of her Parliamentary Immunity are one for obscenity after an impromptu show in Venice’s St Marks Square, and one for criminal damage to a 350-year-old Bernini statue at the foundation in Rome’s Piazza Navona. Crowds celebrating her victory drove her to take refuge in the arms of the statue, which was later found to be cracked.

“Well, I agree with the Radicals and Panella – we’re against PI, but whilst there’s injustice against me like this, I need it.”

Should there be limits to behaviour ?
“Certainly not.”
Have you tried everything by now ?
“Oh yes ! It’s wonderful because I’ve tried all the experiences. Of course, there are new ones, there will always be new experiences, though it might take me a while to think of one, hahaha.”
What about sex ?
“(Giggles) I like to go to bed with men that stimulate me…intellectually. I like Woody Allen, he’s my man. Sex can be purely physical, of course. Sometimes the body is just hungry. There are moments of great sexual appetite.”
What”s your preferred method ?
“Oh, I make love with them. I don’t use condoms. I don’t like them. They have nothing to do with love. I’m not afraid of AIDS, no. I always know who has AIDS and who hasn’t. Here, I’ll give you my AIDS certificate to copy which I did in Japan to make all these Japanese Cicciolini take their test and not be afraid of their sexuality. I’ve slept with hundreds of men. I still love it.”
The certificate, dated 24th March 1988, shows a proud trip of negatives.
What are your best qualities ?
“My bottom and my breasts, and my kindness and my sweetness. My worst is my generosity – a lot of people give me disappointments. I never exercise, no, or work out. I live in the countryside, you know, so I like to bathe in asses’ milk. And there are many farmers nearby who like to bring me it.”
She giggles again, coyly.

Staller’s plans for the future include her Association of Love – similar to the Love Parks being planned in Argentina.
“There will be no prostitutes, no talk of paying for sex. Just lots of green parks, with exotic animals, swans, deer, peacocks, a library on sexuality, a great collection of pornography, erotic cakes, videos. All for old couples, young couples, boys and girls to come and make love. The parks will be against sexual violence. What I say about sexual violence is that there is a beast inside us all, which wakes now and then – and pornography is not responsible for that. And there will be no drugs either. People of course are free to kill themselves as they choose, but don’t tell me heroin is a beauty treatment, and makes your skin nice…”

Her next film, “a mix of sex and politics” is The Rise Of The Roman Empress and the publicity brochure tells us “Cicciolina”s every orifice is filled with pleasure”, which I an assure you is no idle claim.

“You’re too curious,” she says, giving me another slap on the wrist. Gradually getting tetchier, she snaps: “I’m not in love with my manager, no. I’m in love all the time but with different people. I haven’t got time for children or anything.”
Her home life, she says, consists of her animals – her Persian cat Nuvola, her snakes and peacocks.
“I always find an hour to play with them,” she says knowingly.

Outside, as she leaves, she sits in her Peugeot 205 being filmed and mobbed by fans and passers-by, half of whom are smiling affectionately. I’m feeling that I’m none the wiser. She’s decidedly strange, but other than that I don’t know what she’s trying to do.
“Hey,” she says suddenly, fixing her mischievous, steely stare on me. “As you’re so curious, why don’t you come and make a film with me ?” she purrs dangerously.
No, I’m too shy, I tell her.
“Oh, we’ll soon change that. Come on ! Why don’t you ? It’ll be fun.”