by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
MADE IN MILAN (BICOCCA)
I grew up in Milan, in Porta Venezia and then in Bicocca. For those who know don’t know Milan: go straight on Viale Zara, continue on Fulvio Testi and you get to Bicocca. We used to ride a bike to go from Bicocca to Fulvio Testi, carrying a sandwich, two sandwiches, no water because we drank from the free fountains, the green dragons, we didn’t carry bottles like we do now. We left with our two sandwiches on the Saltafoss, which was a cool bike, others had the Graziella. We went to Bicocca and Parco di Monza, where the circuit is. It was an adventure, a trip, when we got back in the evening we hugged and said “it was nice”.
DJ WITH THE PINK CIAO (a type of scooter)
At fourteen-fifteen years old I was already a Disk Jockey, I used to play records on Saturday afternoons in a club called “Sì o sì”, which was the first gay club in Italy. It was in Porta Romana, in Via Vittadini in front of the Parco Ravizza , but now it doesn’t exist anymore, there is a building in its place. Let me just say that the doorman of the nightclub was a transvestite who worked the streets in the park and so I always had to go and get him, he had to remove his make-up, put on man’s clothes and work as a doorman. I had a scooter, I painted it pink, everyone else had a white or blue one. Mine was pink. One day a friend of mine, may he rest in peace, asked me “can I borrow the scooter Ringo?”, “Sure” I said, then he went to rob a supermarket with my pink scooter; the local police came, slapped me, handcuffed me and I said “What did I do marshal, I swear I’m a a good one, I work, I do sports, I’m not a thief”. “Somebody saw you dashing off from the supermarket on this scooter”, and then my friend said, “That was me,” we were at the bar, “He doesn’t have anything to do with it”; oh I’m talking about the seventies guys, I smile about it, not that those are good things, but these are my memories, this is the environment I grew up in and I will not deny it.
LONDON AND THE PUNKS
I went to London at fourteen-fifteen years old, something unthinkable for a fifteen year old nowadays; I arrived at Victoria Station with other punks from Brescia and Bergamo, with our green and blue mohawks. For the first five or six days we slept in our sleeping bags at Victoria Station, then the Bobbies, those British cops, kicked us out and so we decided to take a squat, to occupy a squat. We went to Kilburn, that now is a beautiful area of London, we had no water, nothing, but at least we were sleeping on the carpet in our sleeping bags.
I used to unload the Clash and the Pistols instruments in order to see the concert for free, or for the Sham69, the Chelsie, the Boys, all the bands of that time, the Stranglers, I grew up with those bands.
WHAT PUT ALL THIS INTO YOUR HEAD?
Back from London with these blue and green mohawks (there were the crazy colors, we used to bleach the mohawk and then we dyed it with the crazy colors that were meant to be for carpets, think about the poison we put on our heads!) the police looked at us and stopped us to check our documents. They were the legendary celerini, the cops of the time with the green helmets. They took us to the police station to find out who we were, what we did, what types of human beings we were.
When I was a kid I used to go to the Mandala that was in Corso Como 15, the club that currently is the Hollywood, my former club, I sold my shares in 2005.
At the Mandala I did everything: my first sexual experiences, my first joints, the Bob Marley’s “bumba eh”, we used to wear denim jackets. In short, those were good years. When I went to Los Angeles, I returned to Milan in 1986, my friends of the time said “now we want to open a disco, this music is boring, now there is the house music, what can we do?”, ‘Look I’m going back to Los Angeles in two or three months, I can stay here for a little while and then I’m going back to LA”, “Come on! We need to do something”. I did a couple of nights. However, it wasn’t the Hollywood yet, it was the Sistesis in San Babila. Later on we got the Hollywood, and it was full! They saw that I was undecided whether to go back to Los Angeles or not, and so they said “We’ll give you 25%, we buy a new club with rock music, the Hollywood, with glamour rock, models … “And where can we find it ..?” “Look I’m fond of the Hollywood”. We went to see it on a Friday night and it was empty, it wasn’t trendy anymore, so we got that disco.
BONO, PRINCE AND THE OTHERS
Then in 86 I invited Bono for his birthday, then we organized Prince’s birthday. I had worked with Prince in Los Angeles as a DJ, he came here and I organized his birthday, I remember he made a lemon cake, he cut one by one three hundred slices. You know, with these parties and celebrities, the club took off!
SUZI AND I
A couple of days ago I played a record on the radio, I played Suzi Quatro’s “Can the Can”. She drove me crazy, I think, I’ve always said that, I’m not ashamed to say it: my first wanks were for her, Suzi Quatro dressed in leather and with her bass turned me on… I was a kid… dear Suzi, I wanked you.
I grew up with the T-Rex, then punk, before there was Marc Bolan. T-Rex, all the English glam… who do we have now? David Guetta…
Milan is fantastic, I had money galore, women galore, there was Bettino Craxi, it was a different Milan, the famous Milano da bere really existed. We had fun, the Milan that Andy Warhol visited, Andy Warhol came here in ’84, before he died, for his last exhibition, Keith Haring painted the Fiorucci store, he hand painted a three-story shop, that should have been exposed at the MOMA. Everybody came here, everyone revolved around here, Steve Strange has recently died, there was the Plastic where I collaborated, a great disco at the time, in the 80s, before the Hollywood, all the artists came to Milan.
Bowie used to come here, there were evenings when Bowie took his private plane to Milan with various British artists and on Monday they went back to London. The only bad thing is that in those years AIDS made its appearance; all the fashion agencies were here and so were all the models, the American ones. Now the Russian ones come here, they are all washed out don’t have even half a smile. The American girls were much more fun, they knew their music, they knew how to have fun, “party time”, there were models that brought me new records from California, vinyl records, and I played them in the disco and, I launched new albums. Since there was no Internet I missed some new music. On my way back to America I had brought new records but after a year or two they were already old, these models were teenagers, they were eighteen or nineteen, who listened to music and brought me the latest tracks.
Cindy Crawford always came to the Hollywood, once she kissed me here, she said “play a record” I said, “No, what will you give me for that?”, I was joking, and she said “do you want a kiss? ” and she grabbed me… it took me an hour to recover and work, I could not mix.
Ron Wood celebrated his birthday at the Hollywood, he obviously invited all the other Rolling Stones, then he told me “look, David will be here too, I want a corner only for him” and I asked “David who?” “Bowie” “Ah ok”. Arranging the security service was very difficult… He invited also Mickey Rourke, who was big at the time, it was not easy, we had a number of guys a good security service, put them there and they were good.
THE CELEBRITIES FOOLED AROUND
Everybody liked Milan: celebrating his birthday in Milan was cool for Mickey Rourke. Being back in LA and saying “I had my birthday party in Milan,” without forgetting that celebrities fooled around like crazy.
BRUCE WILLIS AND AIDA
The last one I saw fooling around was Bruce Willis and applauded him, I saw him running away from the Hollywood once, I’m talking about the 2000s, with Aida Yespica, I think, and I applauded him. Later on, at five in the morning, as always, I went to have breakfast at the hospital Fatebenefratelli’s bar, where nurses, police officers and night watchman on duty go … at five-five thirty they have breakfast in their white apron and then they go to work at the hospital. I saw him there having a cappuccino with her and I thought “you are the number one”. He found out about the bar on his own, he was sitting there and the waitress, a woman, I think she was the owner, a nice woman asked me “Hey Ringo, who’s that guy, I think I know him?” and I said “He works with us at the disco”, “ahh I thought so”. Seeing the faces of the policemen and nurses who thought “What’s Bruce Willis doing at five-thirty in the morning at the bar of the Fatebenefratelli hospital, having breakfast dipping his croissant?!”.
Maybe we earned more, maybe there was less fiscal control, this is not for me to say, but it was Milan, so in order to earn money people worked. I must also say that Milan’s nights weren’t scary… Can you picture Bruce Willis now at five in the morning in the bar of the hospital? Don’t think I support Lega Nord, but with these Romanian gangs and drug dealers, North African gangs, crazy people around at night time… Milan’s nights nowadays are can bedangerous.
HERE COMES THE TERRONE
When I was a kid I experienced a bit of racism because my family comes from Puglia, and kids used to say “Oh, here comes the terrone to play”, also at school. My name is Rocco Anaclerio, but I miss that Milan. I pushed myself, I was born in Milan, I became a Milanese working and living there, I miss that Milan, now it is a fast city… it offers a lot … but it has lost its Milanesità, the typical trattoria of Milan in the 70s… the Milan storytellers, I miss Cochi and Renato, Jannacci, Gaber … It’s a pity… that artistic Milanesità doesn’t exist anymore. And Milan now isn’t multiracial as the institutions make us believe, because in suburban neighborhoods people occupy houses and kill themselves, some people live in cars, Italian people, it hurts to see someone who has lived in Milan for seventy years, who was born in Milan, living in the car because unemployed, it is absurd that in Milan public transport isn’t free for seniors who worked a lifetime.
FINARDI AT PALAZZO MARINO
I ask Edoardo Bennato to come from Naples and become Milan’s mayor, but I’d like someone like Finardi, why not, I know that he makes music and doesn’t give a damn, or even propose the Puma di Segrate, a bit of blues as mayor, Fabio Treves as mayor.
MUSIC AND TUSSLES
Sometimes they chased in the clubs and beat us up, because they considered us Nazis, only because we had short hair, studded jackets, the motorcycle… And so there were fights in the 70s and 80s, the famous ones in Via Torino, with the headbangers … then there were the paninari… Now when I meet them, those ones who beat us up, I say “what the hell were you doing?”, we had music.
I happened to go to Palalido, here’s another disgrace: the Palalido is blocked, a piece of Milan’s history, there I saw the Crembs, the Police, the Ramones and look at it now… Those of Lotta Continua used to arrive and beat us up calling us “fascists!” because we had studded leather jackets, there was some confusion at a political level. They threw petrol bombs at Santana and Frank Zappa.
OK TO PROGRESS
I live in the Corso Como area, so I saw these skyscrapers coming up, but it is right that a city has a center with skyscrapers… I’m in favor of progress. Unfortunately there is the culture of the apartment blocks, people don’t want any noise, Milan doesn’t want any noise, so I would recommend the creation of a red-light district like the one in Amsterdam, where being with prostitutes is fine, if you want to smoke you can smoke, if you want to go to a rock concert you can, and nobody breaks your balls!
I would go back to the ’80s when the videos were trendy, the first Italian video bar opened in Milan. A friend of mine had VHS cassettes where were recorded countless hours of MTV in America, MTV was only in America at the time, he brought them here and played them… the bar was full because there we watched our first videos … the first Dire Straits video, the first video by the Cars. In the video bar painters, photographers, presumed artists, because the court of miracles is made of great artists and crappy artists!
PIERSILVIO, THE SENATUR’S DOG BITE AND I
I used to hang out with Piersilvio Berlusconi when he was young, he used to come to my disco, sometimes he invited me to Arcore to play football, we played versus the guards, if the helicopters allowed us to play. Helicopters occasionally landed, once Agnelli’s one landed and interrupted the game when we were winning 2 – 1. After we resumed the game the other team scored, I still regret that tie! To Arcore came various characters that I watched with curiosity and sometimes I saw Bossi, sometimes Agnelli, Craxi. I remember, I hope Bossi doesn’t get offended, the senatur, is he still Senator? Ok, I don’t know, I remember there was a mutt named Teo at Arcore, those were the early years of Forza Italia. Seven or eight characters came out of the villa, including the president, I didn’t know them, now I can tell you who they were, at the time they were 60 year olds who talked politics, I did not care for them, I played football; the mutt starts running and, I don’t know why, bites Bossi’s calf and the guards said “This dog must be from Puglia”.
When I was a kid in junior high I played the drums in a band, we played some tracks by the Beatles. I was in junior high in 1973-74, the year the Beatles broke up. I had the same haircut, I played the drums and everyone called me Ringo, after Ringo Starr, and it stuck.