But his alleged dalliances with prostitutes and underage girls is getting some competition from another scandal unfolding in Rome. This one involves a TV-host-turned-governor who was forced to admit to a long history of frequenting transsexual prostitutes. This week, that scandal received the tangential frisson of murder. Piero Marrazzo was forced to step down as governor of Rome's region, Lazio, on Oct.
Prosecutors have now opened homicide investigations into the deaths of two people linked to Marrazzo, who was first elected in after years as host of a popular consumer watchdog talk show on the RAI national TV network. Investigators say Marrazzo is not a suspect in the Nov. But he has connections to both people. Cafasso had reportedly produced an incriminating video that showed Marrazzo indulging in both drugs and the transsexual prostitutes.
And investigators say Brenda was one of the prostitutes at the center of the sex scandal. See pictures of Silvio Berlusconi and the politics of Sex. Marrazzo's scandal is the third major public controversy in four years involving prominent Italian men and transgender prostitutes.
In , Lapo Elkann, the grandson of the former head of the Fiat auto dynasty Gianni Agnelli, was rushed to the hospital when he overdosed on cocaine at the Turin apartment of a transsexual prostitute. Two years later, photographs surfaced of Silvio Sircana, chief spokesman for then-Prime Minister Romano Prodi, having a conversation with what appeared to be a transvestite prostitute on the outskirts of Rome.
Sircana insisted he was not soliciting the prostitute. Marrazzo, who is married with three children, admitted to paying thousands of euros to be with several South American transgender prostitutes and to using cocaine. His fall came after four Carabinieri police officers were arrested for allegedly threatening to make public the incriminating video of the encounter he had with one of the prostitutes.
See the top 10 Berlusconi gaffes. With the revelations splashed across TV and newspapers, Italians in bars and over espressos are asking themselves just what the attraction is for these men? Indeed, some see the iconic, often macho image of the "Maschio Italiano" Italian male coming a bit unraveled.
Alberto Caputo, a Milan psychiatrist and sex therapist, says that a third of the several thousand visits each month to prostitutes in the northern city are with the transgendered. Instead, he calls the attraction "homogenital," whereby someone seeks all the characteristics of the opposite sex, save the genitals, which he or she prefers to be like their own. As a sociological phenomenon, Caputo, wonders if the growing power of women in contemporary life and relationships pushes certain men to seek what he calls a "neo-woman," who is hormonally and behaviorally quite feminine and protective, even while possessing the male sex organ.
The Prime Minister can argue that he is hardly the only politician guilty of peccadilloes. Opposition supporters point out that Marrazzo rather quickly pulled out of politics after the revelations while the Prime Minister has never shown an ounce of contrition. But Vittorio Zincone, who writes on politics and culture for the weekly magazine of the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, says there is an unconscious effect on the body politic.