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Bunga bunga

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Bunga bunga is a phrase of uncertain origin and various meanings that dates from 1910, and a
name for an area of Australia dating from 1852. By 2010 the phrase had gained popularity in
Italy and the international press to refer to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex
parties, which caused a major political scandal in Italy.

Contents
[hide]

1 Early use
2 Resurgence in Italy
3 Popular culture
4 Notes
5 References

Early use[edit]
An 1852 issue of Hogg's Instructor states that "bunga bunga" is the name given by locals to a
location near Moreton Bay on the eastern coast of Australia.[1]

In 1910 Horace de Vere Cole, Virginia Woolf, her brother Adrian Stephen and a small group of
friends, pretended to be the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage. They obtained permission to
visit one of the world's most powerful warships HMS Dreadnought in Weymouth, Dorset, in
what became known as the Dreadnought hoax. It was reported that each time the Commander
showed them a marvel of the ship, they murmured the phrase bunga, bunga![2][3] which then
became a popular catchphrase of the time.[4] Adrian Stephen, had this to say about the phrase:
...one of the newspapers published an interview. I think it was supposed to be with one of the
assistants at Clarksons, who professed to know a great deal more than he did, and in particular
stated that we used the expression "Bunga-Bunga". Anyhow the words "Bunga-Bunga" became
public catchwords for a time, and were introduced as tag in music-hall songs and so forth.
Apparently the Admiral was unable to go ashore without having them shouted after him in the
streets, and I suppose the other officers were treated in the same way.[5]

A 1950 Bugs Bunny short "Bushy Hare" used the phrase "Unga Bunga Bunga" in a nonsensical
exchange between Bugs Bunny and a character who represented an Australian Aborigine and
who was referred to as "Nature Boy".[6]

In Malay-speaking countries bunga means flower. As such bunga bunga (written as bunga-
bunga) is simply the plural form of flower. Possibly, Makassan contact with Australia can
explain the existence of the word within the Australian Aborigines culture.

Resurgence in Italy[edit]

The term "Bunga Bunga" has been closely associated with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi in recent history.

A century later, the term bunga bunga became popular again as part of a joke on the internet.[7][n 1]
This joke was then narrated by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at his dinner parties (in a
version which featured, as prisoners, former ministers from the centre-left opposition party led
by Romano Prodi).[8]

This expression was then frequently quoted by the Italian and international press during the 2011
investigation surrounding Silvio Berlusconi's underage prostitution charges, acquiring a quite
different meaning as "an orgy involving a powerful leader"; it was allegedly taught to Silvio
Berlusconi by Muammar al-Gaddafi,[9] who was also the unwitting originator of the phrase Zenga
Zenga.

In Italy, the term "has become an instant, supposedly hilarious, household expression".[10]
Recent explanations disagree on its meaning, or perhaps illustrate the range of its reference. It "is
said to be a sort of underwater orgy where nude young women allegedly encircled the nude host
and/or his friends in his swimming pool",[11] "an African-style ritual" performed for male
spectators by "20 naked young women",[12] or erotic entertainment hosted by a rich host involving
pole dancing and competitive striptease by skimpy-costumed "women in nurses' outfits and
police uniforms"[13] but topless women, the prize being prostitution for the host.[14]

An alternative explanation for its origins was proposed by actress Sabina Began, who claimed
that it was a nickname based on her surname and that she had organized the parties.[15]

The lexicographer Jonathon Green does not expect the term to make much headway, or to last, in
English.[16]

Popular culture[edit]
In 2011, the faux-French, American band Nous Non Plus released a song entitled "Bunga
Bunga". The cover of the single featured a picture of Silvio Berlusconi.[17] The song lyrics list
famous cities around the world (in French) while the video is a black and white show-reel of
semi-nude dancing women.[18]

In 2012, the term was used in the British motoring show Top Gear in Season 18, Episode 1. It
was used to describe The Stig's Italian cousin, who emerged from a motor-home dressed in a
suit, followed by three glamorous girls, to set a lap time in a Ferrari 458 Italia at the Autodromo
Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola Circuit).

In 2013, the American band Cherry Poppin' Daddies used the term several times in the lyrics for
their song "The Babooch", a satire of "one-percenter" lifestyles. The song's music video features
clips of Berlusconi alongside other billionaire figures.[19]

In 2014, comedians Maynard and Tim Ferguson started a podcast named Bunga Bunga.[20]

Notes[edit]
1. Jump up ^ The joke had circulated in print with other "nonsense" words for some time, for
example in 1996 "mamba" (Must we suffer our way to death?: cultural and theological
perspectives on death by choice. Ronald P. Hamel, Edwin R. DuBose (editors). Southern
Methodist University Press. August 1996. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-87074-392-4.) and in 1993 "chi-chi"
(Colin Alexander (1 September 1993). God's Adamantine Fate. D.I. Fine. p. 245. ISBN 978-1-
55611-371-0.)

References[edit]
1. Jump up ^ "Popular botany: The pine and the palm", Hogg's Instructor vol. 9 (Edinburgh, 1852), p. 411.
2. Jump up ^ "The Dreadnought Hoax", Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved 24 January 2011. This anonymous
article cites Adrian Stephen, The Dreadnought Hoax (Hogarth Press, 1983).
3. Jump up ^ Stansky, Peter (1997). On or about December 1910: early Bloomsbury and its intimate world.
Studies in cultural history. 8. Harvard University Press. p. 33. ISBN 0-674-63606-6.
4. Jump up ^ Rosenbaum, Stanford Patrick (1995). The Bloomsbury group: a collection of memoirs and
commentary. University of Toronto Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-8020-7640-8.
5. Jump up ^ Adrian Stephen, The Dreadnought Hoax, page 51, 1983 reissue.
6. Jump up ^ IMDB. "Bushy Hare" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042291/[unreliable source?]
7. Jump up ^ Palmer, Brian (10 November 2010). "What the Heck Is Bunga Bunga?". Slate. Retrieved 16
February 2011.
8. Jump up ^ Angelo Agrippa, "Ecco la bella Noemi, diciottenne che chiama Berlusconi papi Archived 28
March 2014 at the Wayback Machine.", Corriere del Mezzogiorno, 28 April 2009 (modified 7 May 2009).
(in Italian)
9. Jump up ^ Chase Madar, "Catholic, communist, gay", Times, 9 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
10. Jump up ^ Maria Laura Rodot, "Silvio Berlusconi's sex antics disgust me and other Italian women", The
Observer, 7 November 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
11. Jump up ^ Barbie Latza Nadeau, "Will Berlusconi get the boot?", Daily Beast, 7 November 2010.
Retrieved 18 January 2011.
12. Jump up ^ Emma Alberici, "Exile an option for besieged Berlusconi", ABC News, 9 November 2010.
Retrieved 18 January 2011.
13. Jump up ^ John Hooper, "Berlusconi criticised for 'use of policewomen's outfits in villa striptease shows'",
The Guardian, 19 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
14. Jump up ^ Tom Kington, "Silvio Berlusconi reels as 'Ilda the Red' lands the first blow in sex offences
case", The Observer, 16 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
15. Jump up ^ Westcott, Kathryn (5 February 2011). "At last an explanation for 'bunga bunga'". BBC News.
16. Jump up ^ Thane Burnett, "Academic charts expanding universe of slang", Toronto Sun, 20 January 2011.
Retrieved 23 January 2011.
17. Jump up ^ iTunes Music Store. "Bunga Bunga Single" https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bunga-bunga-
single/id462223591/
18. Jump up ^ Come Into Land. "NOUS NON PLUS BUNGA BUNGA""
http://comeintoland.com/2013/05/22/nous-non-plus-bunga-bunga/
19. Jump up ^ Mansfield, Brian (2 July 2013). "Video premiere: Cherry Poppin' Daddies' 'The Babooch'".
USA Today.
20. Jump up ^ "Bunga Bunga podcast". Maynard's Malaise. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014.
Retrieved 29 October 2014.

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This page was last edited on 19 October 2017, at 02:21.


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