Coming to religion

The Duchess of Hard gets spiritual.

By Jack Boulware
Published April 14, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Pornography pack rats throughout Italy would do well to stash away all their X-rated videos featuring the actress Duchess of Hard. Not only are these motion pictures veritable snapshots in time -- including the classics "Restless Presence," "Dreams," and "Sexual Alchemy" -- this filmic output of the Duchess of Hard is growing increasingly hard to find. Why? Because the Duchess has bedded her last duke.

Last week, 30-year-old Italian porn star Luana Borgia, aka the Duchess of Hard, appeared on national television and announced her sabbatical from the porn world to take a spiritual retreat in a convent.

"I want to change, to turn over a new leaf. I'm tired of this life and I've been thinking of leaving the hard porn scene for a while," Borgia told London's Guardian.

The pressure to sleep with people she did not like had become unbearable, she said, so it was time to rediscover who she was. Fans were shocked at her sudden conversion, but she said she had considered the career move for at least six years, and had even insisted that certain scenes of the film "Sexual Alchemy" appear instructive as well as titillating.

Borgia's decision to defect crystallized four years ago, when she made an appearance at a concert to protest violence in football hooliganism and met a Capuchin priest named Father Fedele. The two spoke on the phone frequently. The Duchess of Hard tapered off her film production, and even donated an ambulance to the Capuchin order's missions in Africa.

And then she broke down and professed her desire to cloister herself inside San Francesco convent, a 13th century retreat in the southern city of Cosenza.

"Her conversion was one of the most beautiful conquests of my priesthood," boasted Father Fedele. "She is a very good and sweet girl."

Although Italian reporters are frothing about her amazing decision, and hinting it's only a matter of time until she becomes a nun, Borgia insists she is not interested in sainthood. She's not turning her back on her career, asking forgiveness or converting to a religious lifestyle.

"I don't regret anything about my past, but I want to do something else, perhaps cinema and television," she said. "I don't go to mass but I don't think it is necessary to go to mass to offer a testimony of faith."

She explained that she merely is taking a break to decide on the future, and the convent was a handy retreat to mull over this lateral, rather than horizontal, career move. Borgia's seclusion is expected to last 15 days, approximately 10 to 12 days longer than it takes to shoot one of her films.

Savvy collectors should watch for eBay listings of the videos "Restless Presence," "Dreams" and especially "The Testament" (parts I and II).

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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