Brides of Sodom Star Domiziano Arcangeli Brings Homoeroticism To Horror
BY Daniel Reynolds
January 28 2013 5:00 AM ET
Arcangeli’s sizable oeuvre, which also boasts a role in a Fellini production, was fostered by his unique upbringing. The child of an Italian man and an "underage" American art student, Domiziano Arcangeli was raised by his grandmother in a house on Venice’s Grand Canal.
“It’s not so easy to live there,” Arcangeli recalled about the sinking city, which is detached from the mainland of Italy. “Its foundations are crumbling… but it’s magic, at the same time.”
He credits much of this magic to his grandmother, who kindled a love of the arts within her young charge. A proximity to culture assisted her cause. The pair often socialized with artists at the home of their neighbor, art collector Peggy Guggenheim.
“My grandmother knew all of these incredible people. She knew Elizabeth Taylor,” he says. In fact, at one fundraiser organized by the late, violet-eyed star, a 5-year-old Arcangeli posed for the Associated Press, sporting an ensemble by Pierre Cardin and a wig inspired by 18th century fashion. He was the only child at the party.
Ultimately, another camera would spur Arcangeli’s unconventional rise to fame. At the age of 12, he posed for a “very interesting” series of photo shoots taken by famed photographer Helmut Newton. In these photographs, Arcangeli appeared unclothed and wearing makeup.
“It was misinterpreted, and it created a huge controversy,” said the actor, who defended Newton's artistic intentions. “I ended up being all over the newspaper covers... Ironically, it was the most media attention I ever got in 30 years of work.”
His notoriety drew the eye of director Federico Fellini, who auditioned Arcangeli for his first screen test. Although the production, based on Franz Kafka’s novel Amerika, failed to attract funding, Fellini would later cast Arcangeli in another movie: Intervista (Interview).
“I played myself, basically — a young actor being screen-tested to no end for a movie that had never been made,” said Arcangeli. “It was one of his last films.”
When asked how he liked working with the now-legendary director, Arcangeli laughed. “I always saw him as an older man who tried to torment me,” he responded. “I don’t think we have directors like that anymore. We were very disciplined. It was really hard, but I’m grateful.”