La Cicciolina is the stage name of Ilona Staller, a Hungarian-born pornographic actress who served as a member of the Italian parliament from 1987 to 1992. The name roughly translates to cuddles.
During her time as a serving minister, La Cicciolina continued to make hardcore pornographic films. She also made headlines due to a messy divorce and custody battle with American artist Jeff Koons and her career as a singer.
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La Cicciolina was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1951. She was raised by her midwife mother and stepfather, an official in the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, after her biological father left when she was young. At 13 years old, she began working as a model for a Hungarian news agency before becoming a maid in a luxury Budapest hotel. There she met an older Italian national, Salvatore Martini, who became her first husband.
The pair settled in Italy, where she dabbled in adult films in 1970. In 1973, she began to work on the radio program Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi? Here she became known as Cicciolina, a name she’d use throughout her career. In 1975, she starred in her first adult film under her own name, La Liceale, or The Teasers. In 1978, she appeared on C’era Due Volte, where she became the first person to expose her breasts on Italian TV. She made her first hardcore pornographic film, Telefono Rosso, in 1983. She produced the film in conjunction with her friend Riccardo Schicchi’s Diva Futura company. La Cicciolina published her memoirs in 1987 and made her first of five nude Playboy appearances for the Argentinian magazine in 1988.
La Cicciolina’s political career ran concurrently to her pornographic career after she joined the green party Lisa del Sole in 1979. In 1985, she switched to the Partito Radicale where she campaigned for human rights and opposed nuclear energy. She was elected to the Italian parliament in 1987.
La Cicciolina pushed the boundaries during her time in parliament. Before the start of the Gulf War, she offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein in exchange for peace in the Middle East. She renewed her proposal in 2002. She made the same offer to Osama bin Laden in 2006. She reportedly sent calendars featuring nude images of herself to her fellow parliament members as Christmas gifts. She also famously exposed her breasts during a session of parliament. She was not re-elected after completing her term in 1991. She was instrumental in founding the Partito dell’Amore with fellow porn star Moana Pozzi that same year.
In 2002, La Cicciolina considered returning to politics in her native Hungary, but she failed to collect enough petition signatures for candidacy. She let her political career lie dormant until she founded the Democracy, Nature, and Love Party in 2012 with her partner Luca di Carlo, a criminal defence lawyer. Legalizing same-sex marriage and reopening former brothels are amongst its objectives.