|Politique Diabolique | Sex Files||Apr 7 2011|
In Italy it has to be one of the biggest trials in history. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is facing charges that he paid for sex with a then-underaged prostitute on thirteen separate occasions, and afterward used his power to cover it up. Both Berlusconi and the woman—known as Ruby, but born Karima El Mahroug in Morocco—deny hooking up, but Italian prosecutors claim to possess a wealth of wiretap evidence that will help them prove otherwise. The trial began yesterday, but that initial session lasted only seven minutes before being adjourned. Proceedings will resume in May, and eventually 20,000 pages of evidence will be presented and forty women will be called as prosecution witnesses. Meanwhile the defense witness list includes assorted attendees of Berlusconi’s many parties, including American actor George Clooney, Venezuelan model Aida Yespica, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, Portuguese football god Cristiano Ronaldo, and a who’s-who of jetsetters, television stars, and showgirls.
Berlusconi didn’t attend yesterday’s court session, and has maintained all along that the event is a politically-motivated set-up. Which prompts us to point out that Berlusconi has been surrounded by scandal since way before he became prime minister. Perhaps that’s why in 2008 he pushed through a law granting himself immunity from prosecution while in office. That law was finally overturned last year, paving the way for what Italiansare calling the “bunga bunga” trial. Berlusconi claims that his famous parties are not bacchanals, as portrayed in the tabloid press, but rather “convivial, elegant soirées of food and song.” Of course, bacchanals are always convivial and elegant on the surface, and remain that way to 99% of the guests. But in a private room upstairs the host’s closest homies and associates are slurping MDMA-spiked Taittinger blanc out of giggling models’ navels. How do we know? Because one of us worked at Playboy before running away to the developing world—which is to say, we know whereof we speak.
We don’t think there’s any doubt that political motivations play a part in Berlusconi’s prosecution, but frankly, we don’t blame his enemies—the man is an international embarrassment. Not because he sleeps with showgirls and models fifty years younger than him—we’d all do that if we could. What? Oh, don’t give us that shit. Of course you would. And to our female readers—yes, you would do the same with a twenty-two-year-old Calvin Klein Jeans model. Or even two of them. No, Berlusconi’s a joke because the same planetoid-sized ego that’s convinced him he’s getting all this trim because of his charm and looks has also convinced himhe can portray his country as one where public office is a farce. Or put another way—part of a prime minister’s job is to bring credibility to a nation, and if he hates that fact, he should step down. True, he wouldn’t be able to funnel models and dancers into cabinet positions, but at least as a civilian his sex life would once again be private (and the public wouldn't have to hear about about the septuagenarian heaving atop some poor teenager like a walrus). In any case, whether Berlusconi returns to civilian life may no longer be his choice. Much of the public despise him, and are calling for his resignation. And even assuming he does secure an acquittal, he faces three more trials on a variety of corruption charges.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 1 2011|
We located a worn-out copy of Inside News from April 1964, and on the cover it promises assorted criminal atrocities and indeed delivers. But the piece that really caught our eye (because of some similarities to the current situation of Italy’s buffoon-in-chief Silvio Berlusconi) is the story on Argentine ex-president Juan Perón and his fourteen-year-old mistress Nelida Rivas. The relationship was not something Perón was trying hard to keep secret—he had met her in late 1952 and she soon became a frequent companion. The public was generally forgiving because Rivas was too young to know better and Perón was a widower, his wife Evita having died in mid-1952. Still, he was sometimes grilled by the press and often criticized by opponents. In the end, it was opposition from the Catholic Church that triggered his undoing. His scorn for what he saw as their meddling in his personal business caused him to take a series of political steps that helped justify his excommunication by Pope Pius XII. When this Inside News hit the stands, Perón was living in exile in Spain. To say that his relationship with Nelly Rivas cost him the presidency of Argentina—as Inside News does—is a stretch. But it is fair to say that Perón’s enemies were able to turn Rivas into a mighty handy weapon. Berlusconi take heed.
|Politique Diabolique||Mar 1 2010|
|Politique Diabolique | Swindles & Scams||May 20 2009|
Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi must have laughed himself silly when a court in Milan declared last night that he had bribed his lawyer David Mills in order to avoid corruption charges and retain illegal corporate profits. Berlusconi was accused of paying Mills 440,000€ in cash, which the lawyer then hid in a series of offshore accounts and shell companies. The money was paid during the late 1990s, when Mills was the star prosecution witness in two trials concerning the corrupt dealings of highly placed public officials. The Milanese court claimed he lied on those occasions to shield Berlusconi, and Mills himself acknowledged this when he claimed, “[I] kept Mr. B. out of a great deal of trouble he would have been in had I said all I knew.” Mills later retracted the statement, but the court decided there was more than a kernel of truth in it.
Though Mills’ testimony explicitly fingered the billionaire prime minister, Berlusconi—pay attention now, because this is where the laughter comes in—had pushed through a law last year that gives prime ministers blanket immunity from any kind of prosecution while they are in office. There's a second loophole as well—under Italian law, statues of limitations expire quickly, which is why David Mills will spend no time in jail despite his conviction, and why Berlusconi’s alleged crimes may no longer be prosecutable by the time he exits office. Berlusconi claimed he needed immunity because the many lawsuits brought against him have distracted him from his job, but his opponents say the constant accusations should be taken as a sign of Berlusconi’s corruption and are exactly why he should resign, rather than go about writing laws antithetical to the concept of democracy. For his part, the prime minister has had little to say about the commotion, but we have a feeling he's somewhere kicking back with a cappucino, smiling rather broadly.
|Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique||Apr 22 2009|
In Italy, artist Filippo Panseca recently unveiled a controversial painting in which Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi takes the form of a nude angel canoodling with a bare-breasted government minister and former starlet named Mara Carfagna. Though Panseca has created similar pieces over the years, including one showing Berlusconi’s wife Veronica Lario topless and with neat v-shaped pubes (below), the reaction to this new portrait surprised him. “I did it as a joke,” Panseca told the Associated Press yesterday. “I’ve been doing all sorts of works for fifty years. I didn’t expect to raise such clamor with this.”
Perhaps not, but in Italy, where politics and sex are so intertwined Italians once voted porno actress Ilona Staller into the parliament, it isn’t so surprising people took notice, particularly when one considers that two years ago Berlusconi commented to Carfagna, “If I weren’t married I would marry you immediately.” The aside infuriated Berlusconi’s wife, and she demanded a public apology. Intentionally or not, Panseca definitelycaptured a conspiratorial moment in his new portrait. Berlusconi might as well be whispering to Carfagna that he has a nice little stimulus package under his drape. In any case, now that he’s eternally enshrined on canvas with the object of his lust, it’s safe to assume his wife is seriously peeved again. If she buys the painting and burns it, we won’t be surprised. As for Filippo Panseca, perhaps it’s finally time to expand his repertoire beyond Italian political figures. We suggest a winged Sarah Palin flying above a crowd of heavily armed Alaskan bird hunters.