Don't try to find any logic or coherence in Ratinho, 41, the newest rising star of the
Brazilian airwaves. Mixing interviews with politics, screams against the national
corruption, and stories with child molesters and sanguinary gangs he has become a hit
among the poor and a cult figure to some from the middle class and the intelligentsia.
Some critics have been hailing him as a faithful mirror of Brazil's dichotomy. He was
just the target of a bidding war among all the major Brazilian TV networks that appreciate
his clown-cum-bully style. TV Record won him over with a $100,000 a month salary and a
package of benefits.
Born Carlos Massa in the interior of Minas Gerais, Ratinho got his
nickname when a child. He recalls always being rejected by his peers when he wanted to
play with them with a "get outta here, ratinho (little rat)." Lazy,
Ratinho as a child used to fake that he was working on the fields in the state of Paraná
while his siblings sweated their shirts. Not too crazy about books and school either, he
tried several odd jobs: butcher helper, farmers' market salesman, country music presenter,
police reporter and councilman for three terms, one of them in Curitiba, capital of
Paraná state. "I talk like the people on the streets," he says recognizing his
precarious grasp of the Portuguese language. "I am the most common of mortals, an
empty guy." His Ratinho Livre (Free Ratinho) show can be surrealistic. The TV
presenter has been brandishing a nightclub as a Don Quixoteeven though his chubby
persona is closer to that of Sancho Panzafighting real and imaginary foes. In one
recent program he smashed his own fax machine before the cameras when it didn't work
properly. The stories follow one another without any apparent order. And Ratinho can be
more than just annoying. While recently interviewing live a guest from the Landless
Movement the showman took the man's hand and examined it to check if the guy worked hard.
His conclusion immediately conveyed to the audience: "He only has some shitty little
In less than one month, former beauty queen Carla Patrícia Coelho, 29,
and jobless college dropout Flávio Oliveira e Silva, 37, lived a fairy tale romance that
started with a chancy meeting in an Internet chat room and ended up with the couple being
chased by the police of several states in the Brazilian Northeast and then were caught
after leaving a trail of 38 bad checks in hotels and shops.
Oliveira e Silva, after being detained, is out of prison on bail. From all the
evidence, Coelho was just a gullible victim who fell for all the sweet lies of her virtual
Don Juan. "It was love at first link," she told reporters, adding: "No
woman was more loved than Ino more deceived." She did her own deceiving though.
When asked to send a picture of herself she mailed one taken eight years ago, when she was
still a 21-year-old gorgeous girl 40 pounds lighter than today.
But this little cheating was nothing compared to the story Oliveira e Silva concocted.
He portrayed himself as a rich farmer who traded in bovine semen and to prove how wealthy
he was, the fake millionaire even sent via computer pictures of what he said was his Lear
jet and his properties.
They were talking eight hours a day on line and were having virtual sex. The passion
burned so fast that on October 2, 12 days after their first virtual encounter, Wolf and
Little Bunnythese were their nicknames on the Internetmet in Goiânia, capital
of Goiás. Bunny paid for the ticket with the promise that she would be reimbursed as soon
as they met. Wolf had everything planned for a big honeymoon spree. Disconnected from the
world, they started a tour of the best beach resorts in the Brazilian Northeast.
What the former Miss Mato Grosso do Sul didn't know is that the money she
was spending so lavishly was her own. Wolf had stolen one of her checks from Banco Real
and transferred $10,000 to her Banco do Brasil account. What he told her, however, was
that his proxy was taking care of everything and had deposited $10,000 of his money on her
account. She even insisted that she called her bank to confirm that the money had been
deposited. The police caught with them on October 19, in a hotel in Teresina, in the state
of Piauí. The whole country was following the chase and Carla's parents feared that the
daughter had been kidnapped or worse. There was no happy ending. The Big Bad Wolf is being
prosecuted for embezzlement, Little Red Riding Hood is $15,000 in the red, and there is no
In Nhandeara, a little town of 15,000 souls in the interior of São
Paulo state, the municipal administration seems to make its mark by the color it paints
the city's properties. In the last 15 years the official color in town has changed from
yellow to green to blue. And nobody complained until the new mayor, Oédina Aparecida da
Silva Colósio, 52, decided to repaint everything pink. She has received even death
threats from the machos in town.
After one year in power, Colósio has already turned pink the façades
of public buildings, the municipal vehicles' bumpers, and trash cans. Next in line are the
church and the gardens that will soon receive pink roses. Oédina's cabinet room seems
more like a Barbie house, with pink curtains, pink folders, and pink trash bins. The mayor
signs with a pink pen, and naturally dresses in pink, as does her receptionist. She also
confided to having eight pairs of pink bras and panties. The rumor that she was buying
2,000 pink men's briefs for free distribution almost provoked a revolution. The rumor
proved to be unfounded. Some of the men in Nhandeara are worried, however, that their city
will be known as a gay town like Campinas in São Paulo or Pelotas in Rio Grande do Sul.
"Nonsense," says the mayor, who has three "macho sons." "A human
being's first residence is his mother's uterus. He who does not love pink does not love
his own mother."
If you need a public bathroom in Rio, which has a
population of 5.3 million people, and have to wait before everybody else relieves himself,
it might take three years or more before you get your turn. That is because the city has
only one public restroom for every 167,000 residents. It is then for sheer necessity that
the "marvelous city" sometimes seems and smells like an immense latrine with
people relieving themselves on trees, poles, back of buildings, and secluded alleys. In a
recent article, Jornal do Brasil found out that for 1,600 squares and 50 parks in
Rio there are only 9 restrooms in working order. And in the 24 stations of the subway,
which transports 350,000 people a day, there is not even one bathroom. At the beach the
situation is a little better. But maintaining these places can be frustrating for the
authorities. The administration is now refurbishing the restroom at the Parque do
Flamengo. Vandals invaded the place, filled it with graffiti and took the sinks and toilet
A long-lasting feud between the Mesquitas and the Frias, the clans that
control O Estado de S. Paulo and Folha de São Paulo, the two traditional
and most important daily papers in São Paulo, has flared up anew with barbs flying all
Coming from behind, Folha that prints more than 1 million copies on Sundays
compared to a little less than 800 thousand for the rival, has been able to
overcome its arch-enemy, printing as much as double the copies of O Estado on some
days. For a time, Folha has also been getting more ads than the competition. In one
field, however, victory continued elusive: the lucrative Sunday classified section. But
now the Frias' family paper guarantees that this last bastion has fallen.
O Estado didn't take this news lying down, however, and went into the attack
with full-page ads in its own pages and in magazines. In one of them, the 118-year-old
institution states: "The second paper has been beaten so much in the last 75 years
that it ended up getting used to it." And then, with the help of a graphic, O
Estadão, as it is friendly called, informs that it published 1944 more pages of
classifieds than the competition from January to September of 1997.
In a two-page spread, the offended paper rebuffed: "The Folha published
40.1 percent more paid classified ads than the second newspaper. But they have printed
more pages of classifieds. That means that they are leaders in wasting paper."
In Rio, O Globo and Jornal do Brasil, the city's most respected papers
are also at odds. Badly losing the war for the audience to O Globo the daily
belongs to king maker Roberto Marinho, the same man who owns the near-monopoly Globo TV
network empireJornal do Brasil started a very smart, but not too subtle, war
of nerves for the minds of the readers.
The underdog has been publishing pictures from the recent non-democratic past of the
country and taking the higher moral ground. In one of these pieces, students protesting in
the streets are face to face with a hostile police force. "Where was your paper that
day?" has been the solitary and constant punch line in every ad. The implication
being that the other paper always favored the men in power.
O Globo has responded by tooting its own horn in a piece that says:
"We have shown the truth of a guerrilla, we questioned the Lamarca case (guerrilla
leader killed by the military), we unmasked a robbery with pictures, we put Peace on our
front page and now we can talk about more pleasant subjects like prizes." And then it
lists several prizes for design and content that the paper has won in the last two years.
Rivalry among publications are second nature in Brazil. Reporters are taught not to
mention names of other publications as not to give them free publicity. So it is common to
see references to "a national magazine" or "a local paper" without
ever spelling its name. Veja and Isto É, the two national weekly magazines
also live up in arms and they do not pronounce each other's name unless it is something so
bad that it might help bring the foe's circulation down.
While the rest of the world has been ostracizing its obese
people, Cristóvam Buarque, the governor of the Federal District, has signed a law
requiring that all cultural room and spaces in Brasília have at least 3 percent of its
seats reserved for the overweight. All buses also need to reserve a minimum of one seat
for the obese. The law must be implemented in 120 days.
The recent conversion of Rio's Casa Rosa (Pink House) into a restaurant
and bar called Projeto Casa Rosa was considered so newsworthy by Jornal do Brasil,
the most respected and traditional paper in town, that it made the subject the cover story
of "Domingo", the newspaper's Sunday slick supplement.
Casa Rosa, on Rua Alice, 550according to some, Alice was the name of the first
owner of the placehas been in decline for many years, but starting in the 30s until
its glory days in the 50s, the place became Rio's most famous whorehouse, being frequented
by the powerful, the rich, and the famous. Legend has it that in some special afternoons
clients were pampered by high school students in uniform. Casa Rosa had the best sex money
could buy, including the imported product, which came from Poland, Denmark, Japan, and
House Representative Fernando Gabeira from the Partido Verde (Green Party) suggests
that the place be marked as a historical building. History professor, Milton Teixeira, has
asked that the neo-colonial building be expropriated by the government and converted into
a museum. And famous old men talk with nostalgia about their experience on the super large
and luxurious beds from Casa Rosa and the special lavaboes used by the courtesans before
and after the love session.
Oswaldo Sargentelli, 73, the man responsible for the world-renowned
Oba-Oba show, reminisced to the Jornal do Brasil: "The beds they had there
were ventilated spring beds. The bed didn't shriek, you were the one who did it."
Drault Ernanny, 92, a senator during the 50s, says that he saw many important figures
having fun at Casa Rosada, including minister and Ambassador Graça Aranha. Business
started to go down on the 60s with the spread of pleasure motels around Rio. The sexual
liberation of the 70s was an even ruder blow. Massage parlors, sauna houses and a number
of free-lance call girls announcing their product on the classified section of the major
daily papers was the final nail in Casa Rosa's coffin. In the last 10 years its remaining
prostitutes couldn't get more than $15 for a half and half.
A new research work by USP's (Universidade de São Paulo)
Faculdade de Saúde Pública (College of Public Health) intends to shed new light on the
street children phenomenon in São Paulo. The study, based on 390 interviews with the
families of these kids, revealed, contrary to common sense, that for the most part the
parents of street children are employed, have their own home and are poor, but not
miserable. Some numbers: 77.7 percent of the families live in houses with running water,
public sewer, and electricity; 66.8 percent own the house they live in; 62 percent of the
parents have only one or two children, and 74 percent of the kids lived with their
legitimate parents when they opted for the street. Conclusion of the study: street kids
are not the product of dysfunctional families, but of the lack of public places for
leisure and culture.
The latest issue of the American magazine "Foreign
Affairs" presents a list of the 62 most important books for the world intelligentsia
written since 1922. The compilation, organized by a group of scholars, presents the usual
suspects with a little surprise: the inclusion of two Brazilian authors. They are Gilberto
de Mello Freyre (1900-1987), with Casa Grande e Senzala (The Masters and the
Slaves) and President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and his work Dependência e
Desenvolvimento na América Latina (Dependency and Development in Latin America).
The Brazilian President scored another international hit by being listed by American
magazine Vanity Fair as one of the 65 more powerful world leaders. Cardoso appears
in 26th place, before the Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, Bill Gates and Pope John Paul II.
"Cardoso, 66, has moved Brazil away from decades of political and social repression
and reintegrated it into the global marketplace.," the publication wrote. The Vanity
Fair list includes another Brazilian: Roberto Marinho, the owner of the Globo media
empire, whose TV network is the fourth largest in the world, losing only to ABC, CBS, and
NBC, the three main U.S. TV networks.
He adopted as his artistic moniker the name of a Bahia pap that he
loved. Renowned painter and illustrator Carybé, born Hector Julio Paride Barnabó in
Argentina, had become one of the more illustrious Bahianos when he died of cardiac
arrest on October 1st, at age 86. He was taking part in a religious ceremony at the Ilê
Axé Opô Afonjá candomblé terreiro (temple). He had been drawn all his
life by the Afro-Brazilian cult and created a vast gallery of candomblé gods. "I
love the Afro-Brazilian religiosity," he used to say. "I love its modest and
humane gods who have to face today these contemporary terrible and voracious gods that are
technology and science."
A resident from Bahia since 1950, Carybé was naturalized Brazilian in
1957. Of all his titles, he was the most proud of the one given him by the candomblé
hierarchy: Obá de Xangô. There is no higher distinction in the religion. Carybé, who
called inspiration "nonsense," had been working at several simultaneous projects
until his last day. He was able to live form his drawings and paintings, which can fetch
as much as $30,000. It was in the drawing department that he excelled. He illustrated
books by Jorge Amado, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
The opposition has gained an unlikely ally. He is Antônio
Ermírio de Moraes, 69, the owner of the Votorantim Group, a holding company with
activities ranging from aluminum to citrus concentrate. Until recently, de Moraes was a
staunch supporter of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration. "The problem with
the administration," he told weekly newsmagazine Veja, "is that after
three years it still hasn't done anything in the social area." Re-election is not
going to be a walk in the park, the Votorantim chief stressed. "We are facing a deep
recession and there are no jobs," he added. Ermírio de Moraes should know. He has
laid off 20,000 workers from his own companies in the last three years. Despite the
creation of 12,000 new jobs in the commerce sector in September, Greater São Paulo has
reached a peak in its unemployment rate because in the same period, the industry has laid
off 39,000 workers. According to the DIEESE (Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e
Estudos Sócio-EconômicosInter-Union Department of Statistics and Socio-Economic
Studies), 16.3 percent of the region population, or 1.409 million people, were without
jobs. This is the highest unemployment rate since these data began to be compiled in 1985.
In August that number had been 15.9 percent.
At the end of September, Rio de Janeiro woke up plastered
with billboards showing a gray-haired old lady and the copy: "How to plan the death
of your mother-in-law." Many people didn't think the idea used by ad agency Doctor to
sell funeral assistance plans for Sinaf (Sistema Nacional de Assistência à
FamíliaNational System of Assistance to the Family) was funny. But the message
worked. In the first day of the campaign, 150 people called inquiring about the plan that
charges monthly fees anywhere from $3.50 to $8.50. Another billboard that didn't please
many people showed up in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul. Exhibiting an
immense syringe, the advertisement said: "A Di Trevi jeans cost as much as three
grams of cocaine and you'll rock much more." The display, however, was short-lived.
The federal police demanded it be taken out, alleging that it was an apology for drugs.
Their authors protested that the police had not understood a thing. All the controversy
was good for business anyway.
"Atirei o Pau no Gato" (I Threw a Stick on the
Cat), a traditional Brazilian cantiga de roda (children's song) might not be a
politically correct tune, but this is not the reason why this and other kids' ditties are
not known by the new generation of children. Traditional and more recent songs have been
buried in the fever of improper-for-minors melodies like "Dança da Garrafa"
(Bottle Dance) and "Dança da Bundinha" (Little Butt Dance). But there has been
a backlash to this trend by parents and educators willing to give children a more innocent
and challenging musical repertoire. In São Paulo, Sesc (Serviço Social do
ComércioCommerce Social Service) has been leading a movement to train musical
conductors, and teaching them how to start children's choirs, which have been springing up
here and there. Some recently released CDs for kids have had reasonable success. Here is a
sample of the new crop of children's songs:
Jogo do Contrário
Lyrics: Jandyra Masur
Quem for curioso e quiser saber
o que é o jogo do contrário venha conhecer
se dia é claro e de dia é escuro
o que é assim de dia, de noite é o contrário
quem de dia no claro fica muito animado
de noite no escuro sempre fica emburrado
quem tem a certeza que o que faz é sempre certo
de noite deve achar que é o amigo que é correto
se dia que é claro a gente pensa no passado
de noite no escuro tem saudades do futuro
The Opposite Game
Whoever is curious and wants to know
what is the opposite game come and find out
if by day is light and by night is dark
what is so by day, by night is the opposite
he who by day in the light gets very excited
by night in the dark gets always moody
he who knows for sure that what he does is always right
by night should think that his friend is the correct one
if by day when is light we think about the past
at night in the dark we are nostalgic for the future
A Lagartixa Que
Queria Ser Jacaré
Lyrics: Izomar C. Guilherme
Coitada da lagartixinha
Que queria ser jacaré
Dormia, sonhava, acordava, pensava
Queria ser jacaré (repeat)
Foi consultar o doutor que chamava doutor Lelé
Explicou-lhe o problema, contou-lhe o dilema
Queria ser jacaré (repeat)
Doutor Lelé a informou que seria um jacaré
Que era s'o colocar uma serra na boca e seria um jacaré (repeat)
A lagartixinha vibrou pois seria um jacaré
Mas não lembrou que podia um dia
Virar uma bolsa de jacaré (repeat)
The Lizard Who
Wanted to Be
Poor little lizard
Who wanted to be an alligator
She slept, dreamed, woke up, thought
She wanted to be an alligator (repeat)
She went to see the doctor who was called doctor Lelé
Explained the problem to him, told him about the dilemma
She wanted to be an alligator (repeat)
Doctor Lelé informed her that she would be an alligator
All she had to do was to place a saw in the mouth and she would be an alligator
The little lizard got all excited because she would be an alligator
But she did not think that one day
She might turn into an alligator purse (repeat)
the mood for the 1998 World Cup in France, soccer power and tetra (four-time) world
champion Brazil has already chosen a mascot, or a muse if you prefer, for the coming
soccer war. She is Andréa de Oliveira, the same heartbreaker who during the latest cup in
the U.S. stole soccer ace Romário's peace of mind. Burning with passion for the
diminutive striker, she used to circumvent the heavy security around the secluded players
to spend the night with her then-married sweetheart.
Andréa, who has kept herself in the news even after her stormy separation from Romário,
has adorned the latest cover of Sexy, a men's magazine. With a soccer ball, soccer
socks and shoes, and nothing else, the beauty has revealed all her sportswomanship. Her
bare-it-all show has made her even a bigger celebrity in the condominium where she lives
with her little son.
Fans have been so insistent at her door that Andréa had to organize an autograph
afternoon to sign all the magazine copies that neighbors were bringing to her. Talking to
weekly news magazine Isto É, 15-year-old Gustavo Gomes, who is sometimes invited
to go with her to the mall, revealed: "Andréa used to complain that her breasts were
too small. She is looking much better now after the surgery." These boys know
everything. The belle had a silicone breast implant recently.
On the same wavelength,
Petrobrás, the Brazilian state oil monopoly, has prepared its 1998 wall calendar inspired
by a ball and a naked woman. The Petrobrás muse is Viviane Araújo, 22, who finished in
6th place in a recent competition to find a brunette dancer with prominent buttocks for
the highly successful musical group É o Tchan, as a counterbalance for blonde Carla
Perez, the star of the band, and the most famous and coveted butt in the country.
Viviane has already been a model for six years and has already had a chance to show her
goodies on Ele e Ela, a men's magazine, and on Globo TV's Girl of Fantástico, a
Sunday prime-time variety program with tabloid journalism and titillating touches.