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It looks like you like what you do Interview with Rocco Siffredi

Rocco Siffredi is a man so famous that he could do without his own surname, which is indeed a stage name. In Italy especially, but also abroad, just saying «Rocco» makes it clear who we're talking about. Neither does Siffredi possess any reluctance to expose himself, both physically (but that goes without saying) and emotionally: the word that comes to mind to describe him, at the end of an interview, is "generosity". «In the world they always say the same thing about me: “It looks like you like what you do”», explains Siffredi at the end of a shoot. «In my opinion, the secret is passion». Siffredi is also a multifaceted man: you don't go through four decades of Italian society's history and culture without accumulating nuances, complexity. Stepping onto the set, while posing, his gaze was very serious – so serious, in fact, that his six-foot-one stature seemed even more imposing than it already was. And perhaps that's also why his appearance on the catwalk of the SS24 show by Dsquared2 last year seemed so surprising yet so natural: both because Siffredi didn't look out of place at all next to the other models (at the beginning of his career, he recounts, he was one of the models for El Corte Inglès in Madrid), and because the brand itself shares with him the same aura of hedonism and irony. But beyond the marketing words, the appreciation between Rocco and Dean and Dan Caten is much deeper. «You can see that they are true artists», explains Siffredi, «we share the freedom of not having prejudices and the passion for what we do. [Dean and Dan] are always totally absorbed in what they do, they are perfectionists, they pay attention - a bit like what I do when I make my films: I try every time to do it better, to give something more than I've ever given before».

But how exactly did this collaboration come about? Not surprisingly, with a phone call: «One day a mutual friend calls me and says: “Rocco, do you like them? Do you like the brand? Because they would like to do something together with you”». And Siffredi accepted immediately, especially since «the indirect collaboration started a long time ago because I've been wearing Dsquared2 for years. All my jeans, all my pants, I've always bought them from them. And then, the twins are from '64, the same year as me… I'll tell you, I knew that sooner or later we would do something together». The two Canadian designers, in fact, were the first ever to recruit Siffredi into the fashion world, and frankly it's surprising that no one had thought of it before. «The twins don't judge me. If they took me, it's because they think that in my world I've done something special», says Siffredi, who was also a model in the past, before achieving fame in hardcore cinema. Starting wasn't easy, Siffredi recalls that at the beginning, in the mid-80s, «everyone told me to get lost, except for my mother and father; my brothers weren't happy with my choice. Then six months passed, a year, and even they were hanging my photos in their restaurant». But what Siffredi encountered at the beginning, he continues to encounter always: «People nowadays are much less scandalized, but only seemingly. Bigots are always there. In my opinion, bigotry today is just a matter of ignorance».

And precisely the theme of judgment and prejudice is the keystone of our entire conversation - all the more so since Siffredi is one of the very few men to have a completely unique perspective on the shapeless and bubbling world of human desire. «I'd show you my Instagram», he says. «People write to me and ask for things you can't even imagine, even couples, husbands who want to give their wives special experiences, even women… they ask me for everything and more». In the anonymity of social media, like in a confessional, thousands of people ask him about the secrets of that desire of which he, with his career, should be the ultimate expert: «I have to credit reality: we've become, even though it wasn't our role, educators of at least three generations of boys. […] The problem is not having ever explained that porn actors are used to it, they use a thousand tricks so the boys who suffer from performance anxiety today watching our films say “But how do they do it?” Certainly if we had explained it a little better, maybe today there would be less anxiety among boys. If one explains, illustrates and doesn't demonize porn, but maybe benefits from it, it's possible to achieve better sexual education». But here the discussion necessarily has to broaden, because his consideration leads us to reflect on the most clear and dramatic change in society: «Human relationships are over», says Siffredi. «The real difficulty is precisely the human interchange between people which is not only in porn, because porn is always the face of society, what we produce is what people are and want to see».

For me pornography remains a way of making cinema, whether it's erotic cinema, more or less explicit, but cinema. For me pornography remains a way of making cinema, whether it's erotic cinema, more or less explicit, but cinema.

And since porn is the face of society, why not talk about society? As we were saying, Siffredi receives literal avalanches of DMs every day containing the most unconfessable thoughts of a huge and varied audience. Incidentally, he doesn't respond to anyone, since that would mean taking on a responsibility that isn't his. Among these, however, there are many young men: «They all write me the same thing: Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. The first thing that has changed for today's young people is that once everything was forbidden and prohibited. You couldn't talk about it. It created that sort of aura… the forbidden has been somewhat lost. On the other hand, in my opinion, women have become more emancipated. Men, on the other hand, weren't quite ready for this change of the woman who has become more brazen, tough, very direct».

These novelties in the attitude of young men towards sex also translate into the attitude of Siffredi's students towards work on set. Some of them even have personal epiphanies: «Many of the guys surprised me by saying: “Rocco, my goal was never porn. I was too shy, introverted. You don't know how much you've made me understand”. I mean, these are the nice things that come from the guys, who were very introverted and you show them that what they were ashamed of is actually bread and butter for us. This is the importance of the human side in porn». Personal dynamics, Siffredi describes, are not always simple but there have never been any particular fights, indeed often students feel they have lived «a unique experience» even if certainly quite challenging. «Like all difficult, ghettoizable or ghettoized things», explains Siffredi, «there is always a great solidarity among those who are of that world. Something beautiful is immediately established. It's a job where you have fun, everything seems rosy and flowery, but then there's a very heavy social aspect to it. Women especially pay ten times more than men».

And judgment has also touched him himself, today as in the past. As we were saying, Siffredi is a multifaceted man who, besides starting out as a model, has also experimented with roles in cinema outside of porn where, however, his fame has continued to haunt him: «Most of those who do my job at a certain level are held back». And it's clear that both Siffredi and his wife Rozsa Tassi, a former porn actress, have brought their breadth of views into the family circle. Rocco's older son, Lorenzo, for example, helped his father create online courses for the academy: over five hundred videos in three languages where Siffredi explains how to shoot a porn scene. «With my wife and my children we've created an emphasis on non-judgment, which is the most important thing because it means you're intelligent. Because I've never been able to stand people who judge based on others' judgments».

And here we come to a pivotal point in our conversation since, let's say it, porn has changed a lot since the time Siffredi built his fame, that is in the pre-Internet, pre-social media, pre-OnlyFans times. But before digital technologies, for Siffredi porn (but also sex) changed thanks to women: «Once it was said that porn was only for males. For many years we had this idea that women were exploited for the male sexual imagination. I've been doing this since the '80s and I've never seen it. But it's true that men watched it and women were ashamed. For a few years now, however, women have caught up with men in consumption, but above all what has changed is that women have become totally protagonists. Producers, actresses, they run a business, they have their OnlyFans profile, they earn millions», explains Siffredi. Besides the OnlyFans discussion, which we'll get back to shortly, «there's the part of classic porn to which I belong that still has its rules, with everything you can and can't do. Porn has become very complicated. You spend an hour on set making the yes list, the no list, what I want to do, what I don't want to do. All this has lost its magic. In my opinion, sexuality is magical when you also discover there on the spot what you can give and this saying everything beforehand leads to a certain sterility and in my opinion porn has worsened a lot from that point of view».

Dean and Dan are always super into what they do, they are perfectionists, they are careful - kind of what I do when I make my films. Dean and Dan are always super into what they do, they are perfectionists, they are careful - kind of what I do when I make my films.

A point on which Siffredi firmly insists is the cinematographic status of porn. Even if «the approach to pornography is completely different in general, it requires the same professionalism as any other set. In this regard he tells a funny anecdote: «Alessandro Borghi came to me in Budapest, to play me [in the upcoming Netflix series Supersex, ed.] he was on set, more sets, and in the end he came to me: “Hey Rocco”, he said, “but you guys do the same stuff we do”. And in fact it's the same stuff». And here we go back to the OnlyFans topic: «Now the viewer goes to see what he likes, he also asks for customized videos - but it's no longer porn. For me, pornography remains a way of making cinema, be it erotic cinema, more or less explicit, but cinema. OnlyFans is a world that doesn't belong to me». All the more so since, after a whole life spent on set, among rules that are often quite strict and a sense of intimacy that a layman would find to say the least idiosyncratic, the radical amateurism of OnlyFans has brought back the old dangers of an unregulated industry where anything can happen: «It's full of people, agencies that recruit girls through Instagram, they promise with four photos to make a lot of money, then they increasingly ask for more explicit content. And they don't call them porn stars, but content creators - see how much hypocrisy there is?»

The presence and often very high earnings of the most amateur activities have also eroded the professional ethics of the young generations of actors and actresses: «They don't want long times. If they see that it becomes too demanding, they quit, they say they have OnlyFans anyway». The problems are also about expectations, and this Siffredi knows thanks to his eight years of work as a porn star trainer with his Siffredi Hard Academy: «There was a group of girls who called themselves content creators but were completely lost about what they had chosen to do. They had a totally different, totally improvised perception of the job and bordering on the borderline». But often, Siffredi reveals, it's precisely the OnlyFans stars who seek a aura of legitimacy under the cinematic spotlight of porn: «With the fact that my name is Rocco Siffredi, actresses from all over the world call me to work with me. Even those from OnlyFans, because even there, if you don't become someone, who's going to watch you?»

Photographer: Marco P. Valli
Photographer Assistant: Andrea Nicotra
Make Up: Andrea Severino Sailis
Hair: Erisson Musella
Interview: Lorenzo Salamone