In 1964, Staller began modeling for ‘MTI’ in Hungary.
During the 1960s, she worked as a maid at ‘The Intercontinental Hotel’ in Budapest, where she spied on visiting American and other foreign diplomats for the Hungarian government. During this time, she was given the code name 'Ladybird'.At age 25, while working at the hotel, she met and married Salvatore Martini, an Italian national.
In 1969, she enrolled at the ‘University of Budapest’ to become an obstetrician but dropped out of school after one year. A year later, she competed in and won the ‘Miss Hungary’ beauty pageant.
Shethen moved to Italy and began working on a radio show called ‘Voulez-vouscoucher avec moi?’ for Radio Luna, adopting the moniker 'Cicciolina' for the first time, in 1973.
In 1975, she appeared in her first credited film role in the Italian film 'La Liceale'.Throughout the next year, she toured nightclubs in Italy.
In 1979, she released her first musical album, 'Ilona Staller'. The same year,she was elected as a member of parliament in Italy as a candidate for ‘ListadelSole’, the ‘Party of the Sun’.
In 1983, Staller starred in her first adult film, 'TelefonoRosso'. She also donned the hat of producer for the movie alongside the production company ‘DivaFutura’.
In 1985, she joined the Radical Party, where she campaigned against nuclear energy and Italy joining NATO.
In 1986, she wrote her first biography, 'ConfessioniErotiche di Cicciolina'. Also in the same year she created quite a stir among the paparazzi when she was photographed while pleasuring a dog.
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In 1987, she was re-elected to parliament and she also released her second musical album, 'MuscoloRosso'. The next year she appeared in the Argentinean edition of 'Playboy' magazine.
In 1990, she appeared in the American edition of 'Playboy' magazine.
In 1991, she married American artist Jeff Koons. Photographs of them getting intimate were exhibited in New York City galleries with the title 'Made in Heaven'. The same year, she helped found the Love Party in Italy.
In 1992, she divorced Koons but a year later he kidnapped their child, Ludwig, and took him to America. After a lengthy trial, Koons was awarded custody.
From 1994-1996, she focusesd on her showbiz career, releasing a musical album 'SonhosEroticos' and starring in the Brazilian soap opera 'Xica da Silva'
In 2002, Staller unsuccessfully stood for election in the Hungarian parliament. She also contested in local elections of Italy the same year, unsuccessfully. The conversion of a building to a gambling casino was the highlight of her election manifesto.
In 2005, she appeared in the Hungarian, Serbian and Mexican editions of the'Playboy' magazine.
In 2007, she published her second autobiography, 'Per Amore e Per Forza'. The next yearshe was a contestant on the Argentinean version of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
In 2011, at age 60, Staller began receiving a pension from the Italian government for her prior service as a member of parliament, a move that caused a great deal of controversy. She helped established the ‘Democracy, Nature and Love Party’ in Italy, the following year.
In early 2015, Staller declared that she would make one final adult film.
She is a strict vegetarian and has voiced support animal rights for decades.
Staller has estimated that she has had intercourse with over 2,300 men in the course of her lifetime.
Ilona has also worked under the stage names 'Elena Mercuri' and 'Elena Mercury'. She is known in Italy as ‘Elena Anna’Stoller, which is the Italian version of her first name Ilona.
This famous personality’s nickname 'Cicciolina' means ‘cuddles’ in Italian, a name she devised to avoid strict censorship laws in Italy that prohibited frank discussions of sexuality on the radio.