Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has set tongues a wagging again. Currently facing the prospect of no less than four separate trials over allegations including bribery, tax fraud and hiring underage prostitutes, this week saw several Italian newspapers print highlights of wiretap transcripts in which Berlusconi appears to admit using taxpayer funds and government aircraft to shuttle prostitutes around the country. Flying alongside Berlusconi and the women was businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini, a convicted cocaine dealer widely believed to have acted as Berlusconi’s pimp.
The wiretaps allegedly depict Berlusconi moaning to Tarantini about the drudgery that comes with being a head of state. On one tape, Berlusconi complains about a week in which he faced a series of one-on-one meetings with the Pope and the leaders of Germany, France and the UK. “Oh, to pass the days with my babes; I’m just the prime minister in my spare time.”
As for those ‘babes,’ Berlusconi instructed Tarantini exactly what type of girls he wanted at his “bunga bunga” parties. “Don’t bring tall girls because [Silvio and his guests] are not tall.” The babes should also be young – Berlusconi refers to a 29-year-old showgirl as “an old lady.” The unedited wiretap transcripts are reportedly much “more vulgar” than the Italian newspapers felt worthy of publication.
As far as we’re concerned, the real bombshell comes when Berlusconi reminisces about the previous night’s escapades. “Last night I had a queue outside my door, there were 11 of them. I only managed to do eight of them, I couldn’t manage any more. You just can’t get round to all of them. But this morning I feel great, I’m pleased with my stamina.” For the record, this was in 2009, and Berlusconi was 72 years old. So he’s either (a) lying his ass off; (b) swallows so much Viagra his tongue is stained permanently blue, or (c) he’s the reincarnation of Caligula.
Actually, he just might be the new Caligula. On Sept. 14, Berlusconi’s government adopted a deeply unpopular €54.2b austerity program to help deal with the country’s crippling debt load. Standard & Poor’s then poured fuel on the fire by lowering Italy’s sovereign debt rating, so this current version of the Roman Empire increasingly looks like it’s headed for a fall. But as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, does Berlusconi really care whether his country goes down the tubes? Given his admitted disinterest in the responsibilities of governing the country, could he have already decided to live out his remaining years in an epic blaze of ‘fuck you’ glory?
If so, we have a few suggestions. First, he’ll need a new Latin name, something a little more distinctive, like Caesar Bunga Bungus. Next, he needs to start pay-per-viewing those orgies on one of the kajillion TV stations he controls. Finally, he should build a new Coliseum, in which all those arrested for Mafia-related crimes would fight as gladiators, to the death. Ticket sales would raise a lot of money for the state, and Mafia activity would be severely curtailed. Win-win. (Bunga bunga.) In the meantime, Italy’s artisans better start crafting a coffin with a slightly elevated section around crotch level, or else Silvio’s body will never fit into the thing.