When Mirko Dettori goes on stage as Sior Mirkaccio, can be transformed into a strong man or a moustached woman. It sounds Duke Ellington to the floor which in 1913 belonged to Benedict Michelangeli. It rekindles the art scene of a century ago. He was a fifteen-year-old rapper, shoulder of the 99 Posse, a hip hop dj in a radio antagonist, at the theater with Lello Arena for a Captain Fracassa. For six years at Porta Labicana he has been animating with his sciantosa partner Mme de Freitas The Conventicola degli Ultramoderni, a different and dissonant place with respect to the current atmosphere, between the early 1900s tabarin and the night club.
First song at 10.30pm, last at five in the morning. In the middle: the magazine, the cafè chantant, America in the 20s, the Neapolitan caricatures, issues of Petrolini, magicians, lenses of Fred Bongusto. She’s about to publish his pieces. Not on disk. In a book with the QR code. So much restlessness, she says, perhaps comes from the fact that he was conceived in a rocking chair, “my mother told me, I think he had an exciting sex life”.
What was the Dettori house like?
“Music was not considered serious. Mine is an inexplicable interest, without any kind of stimulus. I asked for the piano in middle school, they gave it to me for the high school exam. My grandfather had gotten me a keyboard, it was a reason for a dispute . Dad was a highly cultured banker, an expert on the Risorgimento, he saw music as a distraction. Perhaps due to conflict, I discovered that it was my way of communicating. I pretended to study Economics, when my mother went out I stuck to the piano. Until I I said I didn’t want to lead the life of a coward anymore”.
How did he convince them?
“I didn’t convince them. I stopped asking for money and went to work to pay for my tuition. I worked as a pollster for 30,000 lire, as a car salesman, hating them, without even having a driving licence, as a strip-tease presenter in the lower Brescia area two nights a week, a real saloon”.
What did he learn at the saloon?
“Managing the lights, mixing the music, developing the gab to stand in line for six hours in front of the public. I had to convince them, send them to the private room, the club made more money. I learned to treat the hundred people in a sexy bar in Palazzolo d’Oglio as if it were the crowd of the Arena di Verona. Even the smallest and most remote public has a dignity and must be served in purity by an artist”.
How do you sell a car, hating it?
“They were Fiats, people came because they already wanted to buy them. But I was a disaster, unable to throw bins. Real sellers make you buy what you don’t need. Colleagues looked at me strange because I treated immigrants well”.
What are you selling today?
“Nothing. I don’t think of people in terms of target or herd. Selling art means debasing it. If anything, I would say that we are repaid for the emotion offered. We do what we love as children. Almost all the people who exhibit here have had a childhood in which they were not accepted in the family. At school we carved out the role of the different ones, the strange ones, who didn’t like football, didn’t pose to pick up. The most beautiful thing is the phone call from those who see me play and he wants me at his wedding. I have thirty years of career and I go there, nothing moved me more than an uncle and an aunt of the groom who no longer spoke to each other, and danced thanks to me. Two from Andria, whom I didn’t even know , you understand?”.
What kind of audience comes here?
“Twenty-year-olds and retirees, punks with green crests and pomaded-haired gagaes, companies of girls, heterosexual, gay, lesbian couples, who perhaps find in this entertainment the charm of an old-fashioned trailer that resists in the imaginary. And yet we sing café chantant pieces, with the poetics of a pleasant man who speaks of jealousy and a woman to take care of. People pass by and feel they are in a parallel time, where it is possible to listen to pieces from the period of the white telephones in a left-wing neighborhood. A purified repertoire of the social effect required by the regime’s industry. Variety has always been fluid: make-up, costumes, the staging of icons that are part of a queen culture, such as Wanda Osiris. We sing at candlelight, to rediscover the romantic approach mortified by OnlyFans”.
The neighborhood says that Johnny Depp came one evening. How did she do?
“And who knows, they told me. Apparently it was disguised. A lot of celebrities pass by. Actresses, rappers, some I don’t recognize. When the Måneskin came, I saw them but we didn’t even say hello. My pleasure it’s that famous artists can stay here without anyone bothering them, like a Japanese tourist on Thursdays. It gives me the idea of having them with their entire audience, and I dream of contaminating them, that they go away with something. Look at the walls. There isn’t even a photograph of famous people who have passed by. The photos are taken by the pizzerias”.