Rocco Siffredi

Adult film star says getting a show on primetime TV in Italy after doing porn for so long wasn’t easy

With 1,500 hardcore films to his name, including titles like “The Ass Collector,” global porn icon Rocco Siffredi is perhaps uniquely positioned to dole out advice to middle-aged couples on how to rekindle their sex lives. The unusual part is that his primetime reality program, “It’s Up to Rocco,” premiering later this month on Rupert Murdoch’s free-to-air terrestrial Italo channel Cielo, is being touted as a family show.

The show will mix irony, empathy and Siffredi’s experience, but, to hear the host tell it, “Sex is not the main subject.”

Adds Lorenzo Torraca, whose Verve Media Co. is producing the series: “It’s a Rocco you really don’t expect, and that’s the whole idea. It’s primetime family fare with a social element of sorts.”

Sky Italia, which operates Cielo, spent two years fine-tuning the format before ordering 12 fifty-minute episodes. It’s an interesting gambit in a country where tacky titillation has been a staple since the 1980s, when Silvio Berlusconi launched his commercial TV empire with the likes of the notorious stripping gameshow “Tutti Frutti.”

Torraca sees “Rocco” as a contrast to the T&A aired by the country’s two top TV players, Mediaset and RAI. Yet the show will clearly play on Siffredi’s bona fides in the adult genre.

“Our impression is that there is great interest from a female demographic in this show,” Torraca says. “Seeing Rocco make the switch from being a porn star to becoming a primetime TV personality is very intriguing for them.”

Still, casting for the show hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve had to weed out the swingers,” Torraca notes. “What we’re looking for are ordinary couples with kids, and once we find them and mention Rocco’s name, it’s caused quite a few to flee.”

Both Si redi and his producer underline that besides aiming to help people, the show is also meant to be funny, playing largely on Siffredi’s ironic side, which can’t really blossom when he’s making porn, the actor says.

“I feel kind of like a priest,” Siffredi deadpans. “Couples confi de in me; they open up. They trust me.”

For Siffredi, getting a show on primetime TV in Italy after doing porn for so long wasn’t easy. But an ad he made in 2006 for Amica Chips helped him begin to change his image. The ad played on the double meaning in Italian of the word “patatina,” which can mean both potato chip and vagina.

An instant hit, the ad was subsequently banned, but is still a favorite on YouTube.

More recently, Siffredi appeared on Italy’s regular top-ratings grabber, “The San Remo Songfest” on pubcaster RAI.

Still, he hardly seems anxious to change careers.

“My main job is still making porn movies,” explains the actor, who’s shot two arthouse pics, Catherine Breillat’s “Romance” and “Anatomy of Hell.” His Budapest-based Rocco Siffredi Prods. remains a porn industry powerhouse. “I’m not trying to reinvent myself yet,” he explains. “First, I’m simply not interested (in doing that), and also I have contracts all over the world that I need to honor.”

That said, he’s happy to make contact with a new type of audience.

“My kids saw the pilot, and it really gave me great satisfaction, because for 30 years I’ve been shooting stuff that (they’re not allowed to see),” Siffredi notes. “Finally, I can watch one of my shows with my family.”

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