Rocco Siffredi, Honorable Local Hero

Italy’s biggest cultural export is honoured by his local region.

In Britain – and the USA, I dare say – porn might have achieved a certain legal status but it’s never going to be respectable. The bitter words of David Sullivan from decades ago – that in any other business, his success would lead to an OBE but for him led to a prison cell – still ring true, even if porn producers are less likely to face the long arm of the law. Even if someone wanted to honour a smut merchant for their success, the hypocritical howls of outrage from the tabloids would be enough to put an end to that idea. Ann Summers head Jacqueline Gold’s CBE was as close as we are likely to see the sex industry being awarded for its business success and cultural impact.

So it is pleasing to see that other countries have a more civilised and pragmatic approach. Rocco Siffredi, one of the biggest (heh heh heh) porn stars in the world and an industry veteran star, producer and director of several decades is to be awarded the ‘Premio 28 di Dicembre’ by his home region of Ortona in Italy, for services rendered. Of course, Italy is the country that elected Cicciolina as an MP, so maybe we shouldn’t be too shocked.

The Premio 28 di Dicembre is an award given to those who have brought glory to the small municipality and since 1958, only 27 people from Ortona have been so honoured. So Rocco is in good company (we say, having not checked who these other 27 are). Mayor Leo Castiglione announced that the end-of-year prize would go to one of the area’s ‘most famous fellow citizens ever’, referred to in the press statement under his real name, Rocco Tano.

“This award was created to project our city on an international level, and Rocco Tano certainly represents a character well known by an audience that goes well beyond our national borders”, says the press release, and who can argue with that? Rocco is, after all, one of the few porn stars that we could seriously call a cultural icon – not only for his work in adult film but for his crossover appearances in arthouse films like Romance, his Netflix reality shows and his general presence as one of those porn stars who have become household names – or close enough, at least. While Rocco’s movies are a touch on the extreme side, his good looks and general persona outside of scripted scenarios seem to have saved him from the same notoriety of characters like Max Hardcore – that and the fact that there is no suggestion that he has forced himself on anyone off-set or crossed performer boundaries, of course.

While we have little regard for awards in general, we nevertheless send our congratulations to Rocco for breaking through another cultural barrier. While we are not exactly holding our breath, it’d be nice to think that this was the start of a wider recognition and and overdue end to the demonisation of adult performers and sex workers on a wider scale.

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