LOS ANGELES—The world premiere of Rocco on Monday night at the Venice International Film Festival elicited mixed feelings for the star of the show, Rocco Siffredi.
“This movie is not acting, it’s real,” Siffredi told AVN Thursday. “There was nothing I had to prove. After 30 years in the business I didn’t have to prove anything to anybody.”
The AVN Hall of Famer said there was enormous media interest for the documentary three years in the making that captured him during the final stages of his legendary performing career in 2014-15. He announced his retirement in April 2015 just a few months before doing his last sex scene—a group session with Dahlia Sky, Maddy O’Reilly, Kelly Stafford and James Deen shot by Evil Angel founder John Stagliano, who is Siffredi's mentor.
“It was great because there was a lot of press and a lot of interviews, a lot of people were interested,” Siffredi said.
“But truthfully, there is a situation that is a bit embarrassing for me. This is supposed to be the end of my career but I’m already thinking of coming back. I did this whole thing to empty my stomach.”
The documentary follows Siffredi’s life on and off camera during a tumultuous period when he was contemplating retirement and grappling with sex addiction.
“When I started to think about retiring, all of it belonged to so many problems with addiction that nobody knows,” Siffredi, who turned 52 in May, said from his home in Budapest. “My addiction to sex was pulling me all over the place, not just to girls. I was going out with anything.”
Siffredi compared his troubled state of mind to the 2011 film Shame starring Michael Fassbender as a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with an addiction to sex.
“If you see this movie you will see my life at that time,” he said.
The perennial AVN Award-winner, who has amassed more than 40 trophies as a performer/director, said that sitting at the premiere in Italy with his wife of 24 years, Rosa, and two sons, Lorenzo and Leonardo, brought back many of the complicated feelings he had during the filming. It was not only uncomfortable reliving those moments, but also a liberating, therapeutic experience, Siffredi admitted.
“That night I sit in the cinema with my two boys, one 16, one 20, and I was shrinking in my trousers,” Siffredi said. “I was hoping they would say they didn’t want to watch the movie, but they wanted to watch it. I was afraid about their reaction because I never told them about my addiction.”
Siffredi continued, “That night I break the wall. I completely break the wall and today which is one day after [getting back from] Venice I’m feeling so much more light.
“I’m feeling better because finally there are no more secrets. Finally nothing to hide. Finally I don’t need to live anymore with demons. Finally I clear it up. It was always heavy to keep everything inside me. I was scared. To me this was… this documentary it was a like a huge clean-up.”
A veteran of more than 1400 adult films, he said during the throes of his addiction he hated himself because the sex had control of him. Confused and conflicted, he started to think that he could “lose my whole family.”
“Where I always found my relaxation was on the set,” he said. “When I was on the set I was forgetting everything. As soon as I finish and go home I start to get trouble on my mind for some reason and at that time from the last few years it start to kill me.
“You know when you have the perfect family, a woman that loves me, incredible sons. They love me and never complain about my job. But inside you there is something wrong and you need to ruin this.”
All of that pain poured out in the doc, according to Siffredi.
“To me all of this confusion came out with this documentary, where I show my life. I show my family. I talk truthfully about my life,” said Siffredi, who noted he never sought psychiatric help during his cycle of addiction.
The filmmakers finished shooting him one year ago and since then, “I feel myself again good and strong," he said.
“I’m working incredible, everything is fine,” Siffredi added. “So when I had to go promote this documentary it was very difficult. It put me back two years, where I was feeling sick. I was feeling bad. All this was very difficult in Venice now to promote something from two years ago. Because now I’m completely fine.”
But he gave his word that he would promote the finished project.
“I went to the film festival and I’m explaining exactly all my life before, but I told them this is not my porn life,” Siffredi explained. “This is not my 30 years in the business. This is my two or three years when I was confused. I was depressed and I was a sex addict really badly.
“The press people they told me, ‘you had a lot of courage to put out all those things in public,’ those personal things. I told them I had courage 30 years ago starting porn for an Italian guy who comes from a Catholic education. Today, I don’t feel like I had courage; 30 years ago I had courage.
“Anyway, I just wanted to let you know the documentary—9 out of 10 journalists they like it. They really thought it was incredible and the premiere was successful. Lots of people love it, everybody was there. There was applause for 15 minutes. I really appreciate it. The sales in Venice are incredible and all over the world including Taiwan and the Asian people—what the fuck, they know me there?"
He said he spoke to a Taiwanese distribution company that told him they saw the humanity in Rocco.
"They said, 'we love the story of the human being. The reason why we love your story is because you show you have a soul before you have a big dick.’”
He had been regularly pitched documentaries for more than 10 years before he decided it was time. He chose who he wanted to be in the doc carefully, calling his close friends John Stagliano and Mark Spiegler, the owner of Spiegler Girls Agency, to participate.
“I consider John and Mark really big friends,” Siffredi said. “Truthfully, I never would put those people in something that would not come from my heart.”
Siffredi said reigning Best New Starlet Abella Danger is in it—she takes his hand and shoves it down her throat in “one of the scenes that shocked most of the people there.”
Produced by Program 33, Mars Films and Falabracks, the film was directed by Frenchmen Thierry Demaiziere and Alban Teurlai. One early review from The Hollywood Reporter called Rocco “frequently fascinating and beautifully crafted work.”
“Well-received at its Venice Film Festival premiere, this illuminating piece of work should travel both the general festival and the non-fiction circuits and has an outside chance of some theatrical action even beyond France and Italy,” wrote THR's Boyd van Hoeij.
The doc was originally slated to debut at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, but Siffredi's decision to compete on Italy’s version of “Celebrity Survivor,” a reality show called “L’Isola dei Famosi," in early 2015 postponed the completion of principal photography.
The film will be distributed in Italy starting in October with additional plans for it to be available in France, Spain, South America and Asia, Siffredi said.
“In Taiwan and Philippines for sure,” he added, leaving open the possibility he’ll return to performing sex on camera. Since retiring from performing he has continued to produce and direct.
“I’m seriously thinking about coming back. John called me and wants to shoot a new Fashionistas movie this winter, sometime next year. He asked me what I thought. We may meet in Berlin.”