Just who is this ”Dita,” whose name has been appropriated by the Sex queen herself? Madonna’s new book is littered with letters penned by Dita; the singer drops the name on the title cut of her new album, Erotica, too. All hail Dita Parlo, the German actress (1906-1971) whose moniker Madonna picked as an alias while touring. ”That was the name that she used to book into hotels,” says Sex‘s stylist, Paul Cavaco. ”The team started calling her Dita in Paris. It’s easier to say.” Parlo’s memorable roles include no bondage scenes, though she plays a provincial bride in Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante (1934) and a peasant in Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion (1937). Her big break in the U.S. — in Orson Welles’ planned adaptation of Heart of Darkness — fell through in 1939. Still, Parlo left strong impressions on all who caught her work. ”Madonna saw her movies, and she loved her,” says Francois Nars, Sex‘s makeup artist. ”But it’s not like we took her as a model or anything.” You be the judge.