Rocco Siffredi Couldn't Be a Priest, So He Became a Porn Star
At age 52, the "Italian Stallion" has appeared in over 1,500 adult films and fucked through four generations of porn. We talked to Rocco about the new documentary chronicling his long career and even longer penis.
All photos courtesy of DDA Press
You might not know his name, but if you've watched porn at some point in the last 30 years, you're probably familiar with Rocco Siffredi's ten-inch-plus schlong. Nicknamed "the Italian Stallion," the 52-year-old has appeared in over 1,500 adult movies and slept with nearly four times as many women, making him a porn icon on par with Ron Jeremy or John Holmes.
Born Rocco Tano in Abruzzo, Italy, the porn star's mother originally wanted him to be a priest. But the altar boy had the "devil between his legs," as he refers to his own penis, and a career in adult entertainment became more-or-less inevitable once he went looking for it. He's fucked through four generations of porn, from starring in 35mm feature-length movies with scripts and plots, to his constant work during the VHS, DVD, and online eras of XXX production. Now, though, Siffredi seems to have had enough of the smut game. He recently announced his retirement, a claim he's made multiple times in the past. But, as the father of two, it remains to be seen if his legendary dick will no longer be in the spotlight.
Yet these biographical facts do not interest French filmmakers Thierry Demaiziere and Alban Teurlai. Their extraordinary documentary Rocco, which recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is a portrait of the porn star that tries to make sense of his mind. It's an introspective look at Siffredi, who opens up about the death of his brother, his sexual reaction to his mother's death, his relationship with his wife and two children, and, of course, why he likes performing carnal acts on film so much. Mostly though, the film deals with the porn star's Catholic guilt. Think Boogie Nights if directed by Martin Scorsese.
The film starts in the only way possible: a close up on Siffredi's penis. We then watch as he casts porn actresses for a movie he's directing, taking his time to ensure that the actresses are prepared and ready for the sexual extremes he desires on camera, be it anal close-ups or rough play involving choking. The filmmakers then follow Rocco to Budapest, where his wife Rozsa Tano lives, and then trail him during trips to Italy and Los Angeles. Through their subject, the directors offer bigger-picture insight into the porn industry, detailing, for example, the extremes some performers are willing to go to be successful.
One of the most harrowing scenes involves a woman putting Siffredi's fingers into her mouth, mimicking a blow job, but going so deep throat that tears well up in her eyes. Siffredi is fascinating, celebratory, and depraved all at the same time. We chatted with Rocco Siffredi after the documentary's premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
VICE: Why make this documentary now?
Rocco Siffredi: I was approached a few times to make a documentary, the first by a Polish director when I was 40. At that age, I just didn't think that I had many things to say, even though I had been in the business for 20 years. Then came some Italian filmmakers, but I believed that Italian people wouldn't understand sexuality without prejudice. Then came the French [directors, Thierry Demaiziere and Alban Teurlai]. You could say I was born in France, at least artistically, because that is where I became a porn star.
I met with the directors and they said that they wanted to do a movie about porn but needed a leader, and they thought I could be that leader. After a few hours of talking, they changed their mind, and said they wanted to focus the whole story on me. And I think it was a time in my life when everything was becoming more problematic, so I wanted to do this movie as a way to pull out everything that was inside of me.
You speak about the deaths of your mother and brother in the documentary. Was that hard to talk about?
You know, in my life, I have lived with a lot of suffering. When you are six years old and you lose your brother and see your mother become crazy due to pain, it's impossible to stay normal. It's impossible to forget this pain. All of a sudden, what you want to do is something that would make this life less and less hard. These tragedies are the reason I was ready to do anything.
So why porn?
I was already very sexually active at age 11, and I remember that all the other guys around me had zero sexual experience, so I knew that I was something special. But that was not the main thing. The main thing was always to try to give something back to my mother to help with the pain she suffered at my brother's death.
Also, I remember finding this magazine when I was 13, and in it were photos of this guy named Supersex who used to be a famous porn star in the 70s. There were photos of him fucking a brunette, then you'd turn the page and he'd be fucking a blonde, then you'd turn the page and he'd be fucking a redhead, then you'd turn the page and he'd be fucking all three of them. I saw that and said I want to do this business. I called my older brother who lived in Paris and told him this, and he said, "You are crazy." At 16, I called him again and he said, "You didn't give up? You are completely crazy!" I called again when I was 20, and he told me if you go to a swinger's club, you are going to find some porn people who can help you. I did that, and it worked. People saw me having sex in front of everybody, and from that day on ,my life changed. I was in paradise.
Why do you call your penis "the devil between your legs"?
Because the devil takes your body. It's not you taking him. For so many years, I used sex for my convenience. When sex is using you, however, that means you are addicted, and it's the devil. It is the same if you take drugs or alcohol—all this is what I call the devil. When he is using you, he makes you do anything he wants. He makes you do things that you really don't enjoy, but you do them anyway.
This is not the first time you've talked about retiring. What happened when you were 40 and said you'd be working just behind the camera as a director?
I tried to retire for my children. I wanted to stop performing in front of the camera by the time they were teenagers and were ready to have sex themselves. I tried to do things on the other side of the camera in order not to hurt them. On the other side, I fucked up so many times. First of all, I hurt myself by stopping. Secondly, I started to go to hookers two or three times a day. So three times a day: hooker, hooker, hooker... because I was so used to having that much sex.
Did that affect your marriage?
Of course it did, but I'm with a very smart woman who understood my situation. She told me, you need no go back in front of the camera. If that is what you miss, and you're seeing hookers to replace [performing], then what's the point of retiring?
Was it unusual for you to pay to have sex, rather than being the one getting paid?
Yes, and there was a thing that sometimes happened which was kind of funny. The [sex workers] would see my dick, say, WOW, this is big, why don't you do porn? Fuck, this happened to me several times when I went to hookers. I'd reply, "Yeah, I'll think about it."
What's it like always talking about the size of your dick?
"How many centimeters is your dick?" is often the first question I'm asked, so I'm used to it. I know that my work is my dick. I know that when I work, it is two people working: me and my dick. We are both famous—it's not only me, it's him too. In my head, that has always been clear. I'm not disappointed. I don't feel like I'm an object. I work with my dick and I've never had any problem with this. Never.
How do you think that porn has changed over the course of your career?
I went through four different generations, and there is a big difference from when I started and today. Before, you had two scenes a week, there was so much dialogue, we shot on 35mm, etc. It took more time to change the camera position, the lights, and everything, and so the sex was very short. There was a lot of dialogue, a lot of comedy, and a lot of structure. Today, there is only sex, so much sex, and zero dialogue. There is no longer any romance. Everything is just different shots of the female body: shots of just the tits, shots of just the feet, shots of just anal [penetration]. Lately, most of the girls do three-pole anal, and sometimes you don't even touch the girl; there are just three dicks stuck together. It's something that is completely different than what used to be porn.
Is it better or worse?
It's much worse now. Me, I'm somebody who fucks a woman with heart, and I need the connection, I need to use my hands, I need to use the smell, I need to use the power. I need to use everything. Today, there is no time to do all this. They don't even care. They just need bodies. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. New people. New dicks. I don't like sex without connection. We don't have the money to do [full-length narratives] like we used to. The business has changed because the internet fucked up everything. No one has the budget to make big movies with a storyline.
I like the internet because it gives people who have no money, who live in a country where the girls are invisible, the opportunity to still dream about seeing a pretty girl do incredible stuff [online]. On the other side, unfortunately, it's completely ruined the business. There's free sex all over the place, so why should you pay?
You got Kelly Stafford to come out of retirement for your final film? Why was that important?
Kelly is the biggest porn star ever for me. She is the porn star. In one way, she is like me as a woman.
Is she more powerful than you because she is a woman?
One hundred percent. There is no doubt. She is very powerful. I am attracted to people who are special. I've always been attracted to special people. When they say, this person is crazy, she is absolutely crazy, that means she must be unbelievable. I don't like average people. I don't like regular people. They are really boring for me.
Do you think you will ever retire, since you keep coming back?
I've said that after this film, I will never answer this again. It means I will never say I'll retire or I'll come back. At the moment it is off, but I will never say that I won't come back.
For more information about 'Rocco' visit the project's site.
Follow Kaleem on Twitter.