In the history of political demagoguery, no one has roused half the rabble—the male half—in quite the same way as Italian porno star Cicciolina. Nominated by Italy's gadfly Radical Party as a candidate for Parliament, Cicciolina (translated variously as "Little Cuddly One," "Honey Bunny" and some riper phrases) threw her hat and most of her other clothing into the ring. Two weeks ago voters went for Cicciolina hook, line and G-string, electing the mid-30ish bleached blonde a deputy to Parliament from the Lazio District, which includes Rome and its suburbs. Celebrating her win, she was nearly mauled by a slavering mob of men when she flashed her victory sign—two bare breasts—in Rome's ancient Plaza Navona. "Cicciolina has been interested in politics for years," intoned her manager, Riccardo Schicchi, 34. "She attended the meeting of Worker's World in 1975. She demonstrated against the neutron bomb. She has always tried to expose certain truths to the light of day."

Mostly, Cicciolina has exposed herself. A native of Hungary and naturalized Italian citizen whose real name is Nona Staller, Cicciolina campaigned chiefly by peeling off her clothes for appreciative crowds. Even the Radical Party, whose successful candidates have included a jailed terrorism suspect and TV personality accused of drug dealing—though later acquitted—seemed taken aback by this latest bit of zaniness. The establishment was well nigh apoplectic. The daily Corriere delta Sera groaned that Staller had wafted into office "on the wings of sadomasochistic electoral voyeurism."

Cicciolina, who considers herself a sexual crusader, blows back a raspberry. "Who voted for me?" she asks. "A mixed group: my fans who love me, people who usually vote a blank ballot and lots of my friends." Such is the cynicism of Italian voters that many routinely cast unmarked ballots. Voting for Cicciolina was a welcome variation on the protest theme, though few, it seems, imagined that it might actually help elect the notorious exhibitionist.

Nevertheless, Staller shows every sign of taking her new job seriously. "I am grateful to the Radical Party," she says. "I am meeting with them today to discuss the first points of strategy." Cicciolina says she wants "to continue the campaign for sexual liberty, to allow prisoners to have visitors for sex, for sex education in the schools and the repeal of article 528 of the Penal Code." That's the law that prohibits offending the "common decency," and Staller knows it well because she's been prosecuted under it several times. In fact, her predilection for involving snakes, sex aids and even patrons in her nude stage show has resulted in so many suspended sentences that the next rap could land Staller in jail were it not for the legal immunity she now enjoys as a deputy.

Cicciolina joined the War Against Sexual Repression at an early age. The daughter of a midwife and a government bureaucrat in Budapest, she first posed in the buff at age 13. "I was lying on some Russian furs and you could see my budding breasts," she says. "My parents were not shocked." Staller came to Italy on a tourist's visa in 1972 but decided to stay after winning a part in a local movie, Incontro d'Amore. She made 10 more legitimate films before hooking up with photographer Schicchi, who became her manager and, some say, her porno Svengali. In 1976, after Italy lifted state control of the airwaves, Staller and Schicchi created a naughty late-night radio show that began to make La Cicciolina a household word. Five years ago she moved into the lucrative hardcore market. She has since starred in numerous porno films and now has several actresses working for her own video company.

Returning to the stage for the first time since her electoral triumph, Staller appeared on June 20 before 300 people in a nightclub in Viareggio. She dressed in an exotic costume that had wings on the back and nothing at all in front. Between acts, La Cicciolina made brief political speeches. "I want to forge ahead like Joan of Arc," she told the crowd, "with a battle against the sense of decency." But this audience did not rally to the cause. "Save your speeches for the Parliament!" they shouted. "We paid to see you perform!"

  • Contributors:
  • Logan Bentley.