“La Dolce Vita,” Federico Fellini’s film that came to define the liberated era that inspired it, began with an impromptu striptease in a Roman trattoria fifty-one years ago. In November 1958, Peter Howard Vanderbilt threw the 24th birthday party for his friend, Venetian countess Olghina di Robilant at Rugantino.
The party was an uneventful until an Armenian dancer (and assumedly uninvited) Aïché Nana ran to the dance floor, started dancing by herself, pulling down her suspenders and stripping. The police commissar attending the party ordered his men to throw her out and made the photographers hand over their film. However, one of the photographers, Tazio Secchiaroli, held onto his photos of the striptease, and next morning Rome woke to the headlines about “Roman orgy at Rugantino’s”.
Thus was born the famous “orgy” sequence of La dolce vita, where Nadia Grey celebrated her divorce with a striptease scene. The role of paparazzo in the movie was inspired by Tazio. Although Fellini was not present at Rugantino, his star Anita Ekberg was. Today, Rugantino’s trattoria is transformed into a McDonald’s.