The podcast goes deep into the scandalous life of the controversial Italian billionaire businessman-turned-politician — a reality-TV and real-estate mastermind, who managed to climb his way to the top political office of Italian prime minister. Berlusconi served as prime minster for nine years total, being elected for the first time in 1994.
But a 2010 prostitution scandal put his political career in hot water.
Cummings describes the podcast as “the Sopranos meets Pornhub,” and says she recently became intrigued by Berlusconi through Ronan Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, and the story of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the Italian model who accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in 2015.
The Bunga Bunga podcast title, Cummings explains, refers to the wild sex parties that the former Italian Prime Minister would host. “Let’s just say, if you participate,” she jokingly adds, “you will get COVID.”
It was at one of the namesake parties in Milan where Berlusconi met Gutierrez, who wound up wearing a wire that caught audio evidence of Weinstein’s misconduct and led to his arrest. In 2010, Gutierrez and another model were invited by a TV anchor to Berlusconi’s villa.
According to Italian court records, months after their encounter, Gutierrez reported she was groped by Berlusconi and his associates. A case was built against the prime minster with other women who had also attended other “bunga bunga” bashes and, three years later, Berlusconi was convicted of abuse of power and having sex with an underage prostitute. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and barred from holding public office. In 2014 his conviction was overturned.
“It got me thinking,” Cummings says. “No wonder women are so afraid to speak up against powerful men … they can just crush you.”
She says people are “done with abuse of power stuff,” and that Berlusconi’s story is one that needs to be heard. She applauds the women that have come forward with allegations of sexual assault. “I think it’s okay that men are a little scared,” Cummings explains. “We’ve been scared for thousands of years.”
She adds, “A lot of women have set incredible examples and have been incredibly brave. I hope that this starts to affect change in other businesses, as well.”
The eight-episode series Bunga Bunga is available now on Wondery, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Cummings also hosts her own weekly podcast, Good For You.
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