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Brazzil - Behavior - June 2003


Naking It

rpdnov97.gif (44090 bytes)Would you like to get ahead in Brazil? Try taking your clothes off. Pretty-face and jobless Débora Rodrigues, 29, was going nowhere and getting no respect while taking part as an activist in the noisy demonstrations of her colleagues at the MST (Movimento dos Sem-Terra—Landless Movement). All of this has changed since her naked body became the cover attraction of the October issue of the Brazilian Playboy.

Separated from her husband, she didn't have the means to take care of her two children—Jacqueline, 11, and João Paulo, 9. Now, the former tractor driver, after getting her $20,000 check from the magazine, has her kids back and is getting more offers of jobs and business opportunities than she can handle.

She was again invited to disrobe for another men's magazine for double the fee she got from Playboy, but this was just the beginning. Débora has already appeared playing a prostitute in A Indomada (The Untamed Woman) a prime-time novela (soap opera) at Globo TV network and was also invited to act in Mandacaru, another spicy novela, at Manchete TV network.

The MST has expelled Rodrigues from its ranks since her magazine peeling. João Pedro Stédile, the president of the movement, has accused the former muse of the MST of prostitution, which made the new-found model and actress cry during an interview on TV. Answering her critics, she defended her right to show her body and make money with it. "I didn't sell my body, I've just sold an image," she stated.

But there were some celebrities who came to her defense, including Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of the PT (Workers' Party) and twice a runner-up in the presidential elections. "The MST should be proud of Débora," he said, adding: "She has two children and a pretty body."

Since the Playboy debut, the former landless belle has graced the cover of other magazines. She also posed in panties and bra for a magazine campaign for lingerie manufacturer DuLoren. In the ad, Débora is shown soaked in milk, while the double-entendre-laden, risqué copy says: "I learned to love milk at my little cousin's farm."

In January, the pretty-country-girl-turned-star will be launching a line of products with her name. Before then, however, she has plenty to do. A TV commercial for an aquatic park and a calendar for a label company, for example. A TV station wants her to anchor a rural-life program, a toy company suggested launching a line of toys bearing her name, and at least three recording companies have invited her to record a CD.

Débora is seriously thinking about running for office. And what does the new celebrity think about women who go to bed with a man just to get what they want, weekly magazine Manchete asked her. "I think they are...To be honest, I even admire them because I am not that brave."

The Rat 
that Roared

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 Quixote—even though his chubby persona is closer to that of Sancho Panza—fighting 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 calluses."

E-Love Story

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 I—no 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 Bunny—these were their nicknames on the Internet—met 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 love left.

Pretty in Pink

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."

Can't Spell 

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 bowls.

Paper War
Who's Second?

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 over.

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 empire—Jornal 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.

Making Room

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.

Alice Doesn't 
Live Here 

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, 550—according to some, Alice was the name of the first owner of the place—has 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 France.

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.

Not That Bad

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.

Dropping Names

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.

Illustrated Man

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.

Not So Rosy

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-Econômicos—Inter-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.

Pushing the 

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 Família—National 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 Comércio—Commerce 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 
an Alligator

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)

Ready to Ball

Getting in 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.





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