What I learned about freedom by writing a book on Raffaella Carrà

What I learned about freedom by writing a book on Raffaella Carrà

When last December I was asked to write what would become The Art of Being Raffaella Carrà, a book released in early June for Blackie Edizioni, something clicked in my head. In some ways it was natural to propose the biography of one of the most total and complete artists in our country, an icon of the LGBTQ + community "in spite of herself" as she said (in the sense that she had never understood that she had done something worthy to deserve such title), to a young gay journalist who deals with shows. And also the age gap (Raffaella Pelloni - this is her real name - was born in 1943, who wrote in 1988) made sense given the transversal and transgenerational reach of a showgirl who has remained current and contemporary for over fifty years, and is still today, one year after his death on July 5, 2021.

But there was something else that made a lot of sense in this operation, something that I had never fully weighed up but that, at the moment of trying my hand at the blank page (and even earlier, with the vast dismay aroused in me by his death), it assumed instead a very clear and crystalline dimension: Raffaella Carrà concerned me, touched me, had marked me as she had done for several generations of Italians and Italians. If I had "met" her for the first time with Carràmba in 1995, others had followed her from the beginnings of Canzonissima in 1970, still others had been welcomed in Pronto Raffaella's living room in 1983, or had danced to her hits such as Rumore or Pedro in the disco, and others would have made the acquaintance of him later, when he made the soundtrack of The Great Beauty or the judge of The Voice of Italy in the 1910s. Regardless of the date on which she appeared for the first time in everyone's life, Carra had spoken to everyone without distinction.

Species of secular divinity, apotropaic saint adorned with epaulettes and sequins, spectacular warrior armed with an immortal blond bob, she knew how to contain opposites, be popular and sophisticated, reassuring and revolutionary, ideological and pragmatic, familiar and very reserved . In a country like ours that loves to be divisive, to wear tunics and parochialism, Carrà was a peacemaker. Not that he hasn't aroused his controversy (from the scandalous Tuca Tuca to the anti-austerity millionaire contracts, passing through the Sanremo 2001 which bothered the bishop of Imperia), but his determined and professional behavior, combined with a warm and welcoming heart, it made a face somehow harmless, yet powerful. Anyone who has a memory linked to her, a kind of Carrarian epiphany that marked a gap between a life without her and a life with her. In the vast majority of cases, these are positive memories, even if one cannot doubt that a determined and strong-willed woman like her has not stepped on some callus.

Writing The art of being Raffaella Carrà, therefore, the goal it has never been to make an intimate and personal portrait, a senseless operation given the short time given to me by the very tight editorial calendars but above all because of her proverbial confidentiality (well praise her on the stage of the Teatro delle Vittorie, woe to disturb her when she was playing scientific scopone in his villa on the Argentario). Rather, a story about the imagination has emerged, a portrait that speaks of Raffaella Carrà but above all of us who have observed, followed, praised her. Above all, she speaks of what we have become exposed to the light of her so dazzling, which of course did not fail to cast some shadow of melancholy.

On the other hand, everyone can choose their own Carrà from this immense album of stickers which, as I write in the book, was their life: it was the feminist icon never ancillary to the men and women of the institutions that he interviewed presidents of the Republic, secretaries of state and Mothers Terese of Calcutta; she was the Spanish diva who squirmed in South American stadiums and the TV professional in leather gloves who enjoyed inventing behind-the-scenes programs; was the champion of LGBTQ + rights (she who had been raised by two women, her mother and grandmother, "or rather three if the English nurse continues") and the one who, from the early evening of Saturday night, reunited the families divided by emigration but still very traditional.

A Carrà for every season, in short, but a Carrà always consistent with itself, with its stakanovism, with its controlled veracity, with its bob that could vary the size of the fringe but then returned impeccable on itself to each choreographic header. Turning around Italy in recent weeks to present the book, this is evident: everyone has their own Raffaella. And we all jealously guard the way in which she, willy-nilly, more or less directly, has changed our lives in some way. She taught us that you can be free, that you can dedicate your life to art even in sacrifices, that you can be whoever you want, love whoever you want, even find another more beautiful one if you want. The only currency in this is consistency.

Pioneer of sex positivity, first victim of cat fishing (I will not spoil the episode with the football player Boninsegna because he is one of the tastiest in the book and I still count on royalties), shrewd producer of perfect TikToks without his knowledge , blaster of conductors who do mansplaining like Pippo Baudo and David Letterman, Carrà is very modern even today, she speaks to Gen Z as well as to the very boomeres, all nostalgia and Fatality. As for me, she taught me that there are limits that we think we cannot overcome, but commitment and tenacity and a pinch of boldness are the strongest weapons we have. In an old interview, Mara Venier asked her what she would have loved to be told endlessly: "Look at you, Carrà is, it's thrilling me again", she replied. Don't worry Raffa, that's just what you keep doing and I, like everyone else, am eternally grateful to you.

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