Anna Moana Rosa Pozzi was born on 27 April 1961 in the village of Lerma, near Genoa in northern Italy. Her father, Alfredo, was a nuclear engineer, and her mother, Rosana, a housewife. They were typical conservative middle class catholic parents, who, nevertheless, named their two daughters Moana, Polynesian for 'deep sea', and Tamiko, Japanese for 'fog flower'. According to Moana though: "I was a rebel. My mother was quite strict and we had a 10:30 pm curfew every night. I used to climb out of my bedroom window at night to see my boyfriend."
As a teenager, Moana lived with the family in Canada, then in Brazil. When she was 13 years old the moved back to Italy where she attended a catholic convent school run by the Ursuline sisters. By her own admission she began experimenting with her sexuality at an early age. "I always liked pornography. I remember when I was about ten, my uncle, who was much younger than my father, used to read porn magazines. They were hidden in my grandparent's house, but I found and read them. I found them really exciting. Even now I love looking at the photographs." She had her first orgasm when she was 11, and lost her virginity four years later in a cinema.
By the age of 18 Moana had grown into a tall, curvaceous northern Italian blonde. Her teachers and parents encouraged her to go to university in order to study philosophy and comparative philology, but instead she chose the theatre. When her parents moved to Lyon, in 1980 she relocated to Rome where she studied acting. She was ambitious and beautiful, a combination that quickly opened doors and led to her appearance in a number of minor Italian comedies and television adverts. Eventually she became involved in modelling, which by 1981 had drawn her into the rapidly expanding adult entertainment market. Towards the end of 1981 she starred in her first hardcore porn film, entitled 'Valentina Ragazza In Galore', under the name Linda Heveret. "When I was nineteen my boyfriend used to do hard-core films and because of him I agreed to appear in one. I was very innocent and didn't question it too much. It was a very natural experience though and I enjoyed it." Nevertheless, it did cause a minor scandal in Italy as when the film was released she was also working on children’s television. Although she denied being the same person, Moana was suspended.
Her mother later admitted "when Moana posed nude in photographs, my husband and I weren't happy about it but I managed to turn a blind eye to the whole business. But when our daughter started appearing in videos, we were distraught." According to Moana, "They were furious! I couldn't go home for about a year after that." Following another porn film entitled 'Erotic Flash' (1981), Moana retired from the film business. She continued nude modelling and appeared in over a dozen b' movies in minor roles. In 1985 she met Federico Fellini, who offered her a part in his film ‘Ginger and Fred’.
The following year she met Cicciolina, who was soon to became Moana's mentor. Cicciolina would later remember her at the as being "full of joy… without any taboos", and it was through her that she was introduced to producer Riccardo Schicchi. At the time Cicciolina and Schicchi were partners in the Diva Futura theatrical agency. Together they organised revealing shows throughout Italy that involved girls singing in mini-skirts, wet t-shirts and various stages of undress. Cicciolina remembers that Moana "made her debut with me, in a show in Mestre, Venice… with Cornelia and Ramba… I remember the first time she didn't even have the possibility to rehearse on stage. I asked her if she was nervous. I explained to her that she didn't have to play Shakespeare, she'd only have to be herself and sing and dance, move naturally." Once on stage though, Moana lost all inhibitions, participating in the show with enthusiasm and vigour. "She found herself with a mike in her hand, in a music hall full of people… and she hardly knew two songs. All the looks were turned on her body. She only had to move to make people hold their breath. Moana certainly had charm and held everyone in her hand. Her scene was a plexi disc on which she was lying with her legs wide open… Our show caused quite a stir… It was a great success."
The Diva Futura team decided to move to Rome where they appeared in 'Il Teatro Delle Muse'. Here they presented a revealing show about politicians entitled ‘Curve Deliziose‘ in which both Moana and Cicciolina would masturbate in front of the audience. "This show was really rather hard", Cicciolina later admitted. "We played with the public and the public played with us. Someone even jumped on the stage and masturbated in front of everyone. This show stirred up a scandal throughout the whole nation… It was a roaring success, but we were charged with obscenity." The case appeared on the front pages of Italian newspapers and attracted dozens of reporters four months later when the judgement was announced.”
Moana, in the meantime, had also begun appearing in housewives striptease programmes for private Italian television channels. In 1986 she decided to return to the porn industry and starred in the movie 'Fantastica Moana', directed by Riccardo Schicchi. With the guidance of Schicchi, Moana was quickly becoming one of the most popular porn stars in Italy, and in won the Venus Prize, one of the most coveted awards for up and coming porn actresses. Over the next few years she starred in numerous porn films often co-starring with Cicciolina, or in the case of 'Diva Futura' (1989), with her younger sister Tamiko who had also entered the business under the pseudonym Baby Pozzi. She also appeared on erotic television programmes, and continued appearing in hardcore adult magazines.
By 1991 Moana had eclipsed Cicciolina and left Riccardo Schicchi behind, moving temporarily to the States where she appeared in a number of American porn films. Within the stagnant, silicon world of American porn at the time, Moana was in a league of her own. Appearing almost exclusively in Gerard Damiano features, she chose her roles with care, and starred in a number of quality hardcore films. She was an enthusiastic exhibitionist who enjoyed her work and had no qualms about anal sex or double penetrations, a fact Damiano exploited in such films as 'Manbait 1 & 2' (1991) and 'The Naked Goddess 1 & 2' (1993-94). Moana had a natural beauty about her. She was reassuringly matronly, voluptuous, and sexy and lacked any sense of inhibition when it came to having sex in front of the camera. She would, and did participate in every sexual act, except child pornography - something she vehemently opposed. Apart from anal sex, double penetrations and facials, which she experienced in almost every film, she also participated in gangbangs, lesbian sex and male bisexual sex. In 'Moana La Scandalosa' (1987) she can be seen urinating in public before being violently raped and murdered by Rocco Siffredi. Italian porn films at the time were not subjected to the limitations experienced by the American industry, and as such often included violence, sado-masochism or bestiality. Regardless, Moana did not believe in sexual taboos, a notion she developed into a philosophy both in the political and intellectual arena.
In 1991 she published her manifesto under the title 'The Philosophy of Moana', where she analysed the meaning of pornography, sex, love, life and death. "Sex isn't always something sunny and joyous", she wrote, "It can also be black, contorted and corrosive. Obscenity is sublime." She also analysed the sexual performance of her top twenty most famous lovers - the list included actors Robert De Nero, Harvey Keitel, Roberto Benigni; director Massimo Troisi; football players Paulo Roberto Falcão and Marco Tardelli; writter Luciano De Crescenzo; and former Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.
In 1992 she formed the 'Love Party' with Cicciolina and entered the national parliamentary elections of April that year on a platform of sexual liberation. When asked why she entered politics, Moana remarked, "Italy is going through a profound transition. The rigid structures of party politics, which prevailed in this country for decades, have been shattered by corruption and by the end of Communism. The breaching of the Berlin Wall, the end of Communism has deprived the Christian Democrats and their allies of the reason for perpetual re-election. What you are witnessing in Italy today is another bloodless revolution." Although Moana failed to win a seat in parliament, she ran for mayor of Rome in 1993 and came third in the polls.
Her honesty with regards to her love of pornography and sex caused numerous problems for anti-porn feminists in the United States, but in Europe, and especially Italy, it only enhanced her reputation. She was seen as a woman whose dual identity of porn star and intellectual elevated her beyond stereotypes often associated with the adult industry and its participants. Her intelligence and unbridled sexuality appealed to the aesthete, the lecher and the intellectual snob, all at the same time. Her celebrity status was further emphasised by appearances on prime-time television chat shows, game shows, sex education programmes and at charity events. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld persuaded her to model for him on a Milan catwalk, and Italian cartoonist Mario Verger created two animated films entitled ’Moanaland’ (1994) and ‘I Remember Moana’ (1995).
During the first half of 1994 Moana visited India, where she contracted Hepatitis B, which led to liver cancer. A friend of hers saw her afterwards in Rome, and commented that she "is very ill. She grows more and more thin, she vomits everything she eats." Cicciolina, her one time friend and mentor, claimed that Moana looked "almost skeletal". Moana left Italy with her husband Antonio di Ciesco for treatment in Lyon, France where she refused to see anyone apart from her family. Cicciolina claims that "she didn't want anybody to see the remains of her glamorous porno star body… she was too proud." Her mother later said, "Moana battled her illness to the end with courage and determination. The cancer made her unrecognisable. She weighed only 35 kilos at the end, a shadow of her former self." Moana apparently died in Lyon, on 17 September 1994. At the time her family claimed that in accordance with her wishes there was no funeral, no music, no mourning, and her ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean. "I don't want a gravestone", she had told her mother, "but I want my voice to be heard." She was 33.
Moana's death resulted in a wave of grief sweeping across Italy. It was front-page news in magazines and newspapers alike. Established newspapers from France to Australia reported her demise. Headlines in 'La Stampa' and 'Il Manifesto' read 'Addio Porno Diva Intelligente' and 'Ciao Moana' respectively. 'La Republica' declared her "an Italian icon", while 'L'Espresso' described her as "Santa Moana, Vergine". Serious discussions began in Italy regarding her canonisation. The respectable columnist Roberto D'Angustino wrote that "Moana's vaginal levity embodied the contrast between sincere pornography and the hypocritical eroticism of the bourgeoisie", pointing out that she also died the same age as Jesus. Representatives of the Catholic Church declared their support for her memory by stating "He or she who sins a lot, is also capable of loving a lot." The right-wing newspaper 'Il Giornale' described her tenderly as a "little girl", while the Archbishop of Naples, Michele Giordano, claimed that Moana was "our poor daughter who demonstrated how often faith dwells in the hearts of human beings like a spark under the ashes."
Moana's conservative middle class parents were reportedly bewildered by the nation's reaction to their daughter's death. They never approved of the fact that Moana had become a porn star, having graphic sex in front of the camera and adorning the covers of adult videos worldwide. Now, suddenly, they were witnessing their wayward daughter's transition from sex star to national, and possibly, religious icon!
In 2004 her biography was published by Brunetto Fantauzzi, former head of her fan club, entitled ’Moana: A Political Mystery’. He later told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, "Shortly before she died, Moana intimated to me that she had the intention of giving up her work... She was afraid the decision could create problems because a lot of money was banked on her. In my book I don't claim that Moana is alive; I only ask that somebody demonstrate how she died." Rumours that she had faked her own death led to top prosecutor Attilio Pisani beginning an inquiry, alledging that there were “many flaws and inconsistencies” in the official version of her death. “Nobody saw the body apart from her mother and sister. No one had seen the urn containing her ashes, and no officials at the Lyons clinic had confirmed her presence there. The hospital had no facilities for cremation at the time, and her cremation had not been registered with the Italian authorities as required by law… the family first claimed to have scattered the ashes, then that they had been interred in a cemetery at Lerma, a village in Piedmont. No plaque marked the spot and the authorities in Rome had not received a death certificate until seven months later.”
The Italian newspaper La Stampa noted that her death in 1994 coincided with the turbulent realignment of Italian politics after the collapse of Christian Democracy in the “clean hands” anti-corruption drive, with Silvio Berlusconi, a television tycoon, and Romano Prodi, an economics professor, emerging as the leaders of Right and Left. Il Giornale, the paper owned by the family of Silvio Berlusconi, argued that Pozzi had many “secret liaisons with top politicians”.
The Pozzi family are furious about the new inquiry. Mauro Biuzzi, the executor of her will said, "No judge has called me; all the papers relating to her death were submitted in 1994. This is nothing but a publicity stunt, adding suffering to suffering, and the family has already suffered enough from this sad spectacle." Moana’s husband Antonio di Ciesco was interviewed for the first time in 1995 and had confirmed that she was buried in an unmarked grave in the "Pozzi" burial plot in Lerma, near Alessandria in Piedmont, Italy. The British newspaper The Times said that “Simone Pozzi, the actress’s brother, said that the spot had not been marked lest it became a shrine for “the prurient”. He would show the prosecutor the place if asked, “but we want her left in peace”. But Father Piero Martini, the priest at Lerma, said: “I have looked for the record of her death in our parish archives, but it’s not there. I don’t believe that she is buried here.” To complicate matters further, in February 2006 Simone announced that he was actually the son of Moana, and not her brother. Moana's mother confirmed this!
Moana was not typical of porn stars during the 1980's and 1990's. Unlike many of her American counterparts, she did not have silicon implants and did not believe in plastic surgery in order to improve her looks. She was not drawn to pornography out of financial necessity and was in no way ashamed of her occupation. Moana was amoral; an idealist and an exhibitionist who viewed porn as a form of sexual liberation rather than a form of exploitation. In a sense, she was a throwback to the porn stars of the 1970's, such as Sylvia Bourdon and Brigitte Lahaie from France, Cicciolina from Italy, or Annette Haven from the States; women who viewed pornography as a means to explore their own sexuality and break down social structures. In a time when the realities of capitalist consumerism, the notions of supply, demand and profit margins are overtaking the adult industry, there is unfortunately little room for revolutionary ideals. Moana may well be one of the last of her kind: a porn star who placed more importance on the sex than on the paycheque.
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