MINE IS THIS THICKThe Italian people kind of remind me of the French without the fries. In awe of the past and pissing all over the present. But when it comes to prime ministers, the Italians have the French beat by a parsec.
The latest guy to run Italy (and there have been sixty-freaking-three governments since World War II) is a chucklehead by the name of Silvio Berlusconi (say 'silvjo berlu'sko:ni) who made his nut by doing funny things with money. Berlusconi actually has been on his third victory lap, the first two having ended in . . . um, scandals involving lire and more recently euros, but the current scandal involving Il Cavaliere (The Knight), as he is known by his dwindling number of supporters, is so typically Italian that it could have been directed by Fellini. (Think City of Women, his film about a man bewildered by the advent of feminism.)
Berlusconi is charged with doing the bunga bunga with Karima El Mahrouga (above, right), a then 17-year-old belly dancer and prostitute.
It's not that prostitution is illegal in Italy, where the oldest profession has long thrived owing to the boundless hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church, but doing the bunga bunga with an underage prostitute is verbena.
Berlusconi has said that he is not concerned about his forthcoming trial, which could result in a 15-year prison sentence, and refuses to discuss it.
"For love of country I won't talk about it," he huffs, although he has previously said -- and I'm not making this up -- that he bailed Senora El Mahrouga out of jail on a theft charge because he thought she was the granddaughter of Hosni Mubarak and not because he had bunga bunga-ed her.
It turns out that Senora El Mahrouga and the deposed Egyptian president are not related, and for what it's worth she swears that she never bunga bunga-ed with the prime minister but did receive 7,000 euros ($9,400) from him as a gift after one of his notorious sex parties. She says that she returned for subsequent parties because she hoped that he would set her up with one of the rent-free apartments he gives to his favorite girl toys. (He did.)
In any event, the scandal has pissed off (typically younger) women all over Italy, some of whom have taken to the streets to demonstrate, and as if to emphasis the church's hypocrisy, Il Papa himself has weighed in on the need for leaders keeping their organo sessuale maschiles zipped, which apparently does extend to priests.
Injecting an element of pathos into this drama, 36-year-old German actress Sabina Began (above, left), says that she organized the sex parties for the 74-year-old prime minister because he is "a very lonely man."
The world community can be grateful, I suppose, that the 74-year-old prime minister would rather play with young senoras rather than, say, a nuclear arsenal or that that oil-laden supertankers bound from the Middle East for the U.S. don't have to transit Italian waters.
Oh, and don't try to look up bunga bunga in the OED. Or any other dictionary, for that matter. Bunga bunga is the password to get into the sex parties, as well as the name of a naughty after-dinner game that guests play.