Brazzil
May-June 2000
Shorter and Longer Notes

RAPIDINHAS

TV

Lesson of Anatomy

rpdmay00.gif (26790 bytes)Tired of losing precious points on the Ibope (the Brazilian Nielsen), Globo TV decided to use what seems to always work in these circumstances: naked bodies and bare female breasts. The latest use of nakedness, however, has provoked a swarm of complaints from parents to the Juvenile Courts in several states since the nudity is being shown on Uga Uga, a novela (soap opera) that airs at 7 p.m., a time in which children back from school and not ready for bed are still very much tuned to the tube.

Written by Carlos Lombardi, Uga Uga—the name is an onomatopoeic imitation of Indian talk—which premiered in May, tells in one of its plots about the culture shock of a blond Indian, Tatuapu (actor Cláudio Heinrich), who is taken from the jungle to live in Rio. As expected, Heinrich parades all the time with nothing on except for a string with a sex cache and bracelets.

But the scene that provoked the ire of parents was the one in which Tatiana, a dumb blonde interpreted by Danielle Winits, removes her bra while sunbathing by the swimming pool. The display of Winits's breasts, which were improved with silicone recently, was important enough to deserve an article in Veja (1.3 million copies), Brazil's most respected weekly news magazine.

rpdmy00b.gif (22361 bytes)Even in a land where the product is the national preference buttocks are being overexposed. In Uga Uga alone there are three actors who strut their bums all the time. Besides Heinrich, there are Humberto Martins and Marcelo Novaes. "This a women's conquest," says Heinrich. "Before, only men were able to appreciate the female anatomy. As for me, I don't see myself as a sexual object because what I wear has to do with my character."

Outside TV, Crioula, a play about the life of singer Elza Soares, which is being staged in Rio, also is drawing a large contingent of women who come to see the bare buttocks of Tuca Andrade, who plays late soccer legend Garrincha. "Our time has come," says Andrada, jokingly. "Before, all we had were women's butts."

rpdmy00c.gif (19607 bytes)Actor Norton Nascimento boasts that he had to appear naked in all novelas and miniseries in which he appeared until now. "All they want is my body," he laughs. Nascimento confesses that he decided to appear naked in Shakespeare's Othello in order to draw a larger audience and explained in an interview to Rio's daily O Dia: "In a country where butts sing and interpret, it's great if the public comes to my play to see me naked."

Jorge Fernando, an actor and director—he is showing his buns right now in the play Boom—says that he was the one who started this buttock-showing stuff back in the early 80's. "I am the pioneer in showing derrières. I invented this habit when I became director at Globo TV. Every time I reprehend my crew, I show them my butt to release tensions"

rpdmy00a.gif (22304 bytes)In the same team of buttocks that sell is a new female band called As Meninas (The Girls). They are three brunettes from Bahia who have already been invited to show a little bit more of themselves in Playboy. Carla Cristina, Cybele and Angélica, are the new musical sensation that appeals to kids and their fathers. Their tune "Xibom Bombom" has sold more than 200,000 copies and is on the top of the hit parades. In their shows the girls are often cheered with enthusiastic yells of poposudas (big butt women).

 


Media

Presidential Affairs

In its April, 2000 edition, monthly magazine Caros Amigos, a small publication headquartered in São Paulo, ran a story widely known yet largely ignored by Brazil's mainstream media for nearly a decade. "President, take responsibility!" was the title of the cover story and alluded to 8-year-old Tomás Dutra, the supposedly illegitimate son of president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) and TV Globo journalist Miriam Dutra. The affair between the journalist and then senator Cardoso took place between 1988 and 1990, during which time the couple were often spotted in Brasilia's nightlife scene.

Media reports on extra-marital escapades by local celebrities are not strange to Brazilians. The long list of philanderers include late presidents Juscelino Kubitchek, João Goulart and Tancredo Neves; impeached president Fernando Collor de Mello; singer Roberto Carlos, and former soccer player Pelé, to name a few. However, Brazilians' reaction to such news is usually blasé. And for the most part, those exposed for adulterous behavior will get out of the jam with their prestige intact. So, why do Brazil's mainstream media insist on ignoring the president's faux pas?

According to several media honchos interviewed by Caros Amigos, the subject is just not relevant enough to be publicized. Others have implied that the editorial line of their publications doesn't approve of gossip and the reporting of such private matters. However, as many readers have pointed out, the same criteria don't apply to other public figures, much less to Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, the left-wing candidate who was Fernando Collor de Mello's main opponent in the 1989 presidential election. While news about Collor's illegitimate son didn't surface until after he had won the race, the media carefully scrutinized Lula's private life during the entire campaign. Carioca daily O Globo went so far as to run an editorial with prudish overtones, in which it cautioned voters against the wisdom of electing a candidate (Lula) with a history of supposedly extra-marital indiscretions. Lula has since acknowledged his out-of-the-wedlock daughter.

The silence surrounding the Cardoso-Dutra controversy is even more disturbing since there is ample evidence to support the theory. In fact, journalists Gilberto Dimenstein and Josias de Souza had already given an account of the imbroglio in A História Real (The Real Story), a book where the authors describe the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of the 1994 presidential election. Then and now the media have been silent. Even when the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal came to light, the Brazilian media gave extensive coverage to the matter, but again failed to mention the national "state of affairs".

Tomás Dutra was born in 1991, when FHC's name started to rise in the political arena as a potential presidential candidate. Sources close to the case have described in detail the exchange between Cardoso and Dutra as she went into his office to inform him of the pregnancy. According to those witnesses, an enraged Cardoso not only kicked a floor fan but also threw the journalist out of his office after cursing at her. Others have revealed how two of FHC's closest friends—former Minister of Communications, the late Sérgio Motta and current Minister of Health José Serra—successfully pressed TV Globo into transferring the journalist to Lisbon, Portugal, after Tomás was born. Miriam Dutra still lives abroad and is now a TV Globo correspondent in Barcelona, Spain.

Instead of patronizing Cardoso's behavior and theorizing about the moral significance of his actions, Caros Amigos's article was more an analysis of the often-ambiguous relationship between the media and power—economic, political or otherwise. For doing so, the magazine has been vilified by many of the local media luminaries who have labeled its article sensationalistic, and the magazine itself "brown press." Still, the lingering question remains: are the Brazilian media so ethical and respectful that they won't publicize the president's personal affairs, or could it just be that the emperor has no clothes after all? M.A.


Books

Seaman Yarns

Mar Sem Fim (Endless Sea), the diary of Amyr Klink, a Brazilian solitary sea wolf, has become the number one bestseller in Brazil. It's not the first time Klink has found success with a book. His two previous works—Cem Dias Entre Céu e Mar (One Hundred Years Between the Sky and the Sea) and Paratii—Entre Dois Pólos (Paratii—Between Two Poles) also appeared on the best-seller list. Together his previous works sold close to half a million copies, guaranteeing Klink a place in the all-too-restricted Olympus of Brazilian writers selling in the six digits. This has been a place reserved for people like TV personality and humorist Jô Soares, neurolinguist Lair Ribeiro and self-help guru Paulo Coelho, who is the only one to sell in the millions.

Klink might not have great stories to tell, but he has a special way of narrating them. He can make palatable subjects like the technical details of his boat and the ways for mastering navigational skills. He is also able to enliven the biographies of past explorers. In Mar Sem Fim once again the author talks about his adventures on the high seas, but there is also a lot of musing about ocean creatures like whales and albatrosses.

"I am not a professional writer," Klink told recently weekly newsmagazine Veja. "I am amazed at the response to my work from people. I meet people from all ages when I hold autograph nights."

Klink is one of this rare breed that can practice his hobby full-time and make a living from it. He started this adventure venture in 1984, the year he crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat. Today he has become a much sought-after lecturer and he is earning $500,000 a year just from the lecture circuit. Sponsorship, endorsements, and licensing bring in the bulk of the money.

Much of the profits, however, is being invested in the boat Parati 2, a sailboat with which Amyr plans to circumnavigate the globe. He is sparing no expense. More than $1.5 million has already been spent and barely half of the new boat has been built.


Memory

The Last Sly Guy

The samba de breque—samba in which the singer stops and improvises some rap-like music—is orphan. Its creator, Antônio Moreira da Silva, also known as Kid Morengueira, died at age 98, on June 6, at Rio's Hospital dos Servidores do Estado (State Public Servants Hospital). He had endured a long disease and had been taken to the hospital May 15. Moreira da Silva, who was from Tijuca, in Rio, died in the city he loved where he spent all his life and where he earned the fame of being a legitimate malandro (street-smart individual).

To those who called him malandro he used to say: "I'd rather have people thinking I am stupid. Those who want to be too smart get all tangled up." But he himself cultivated the malandro character during all his life wearing a special outfit that included a white linen suit with a kerchief or a flower on the lapel, an orange silk shirt, white shoes with toe caps and a Panama hat. Atypical for a bohemian and malandro, he hardly ever drank and went to bed early. Moreira da Silva used to boast about his habit of drinking eggnog in the morning and milk before going to sleep. He was, however, an assumed womanizer.

In 1985, this son of a trombone player from the Military Police band told an interviewer about his interest in young girls. He was already 83, but continued to go out with young and pretty women who also seemed to like him. "I don't take my eyes from women," he declared. And talked about a 19-year-old girl he was dating: "I am drinking catuaba liquor (an alleged aphrodisiac) to be able to deal with this brunette with juriti's (a bird) breast."

He recorded more than 100 albums. Morengueira started his musical career with "Arrasta Sandália" (Drag Your Sandal) in 1931. But it was "Jogo Proibido," recorded five year later, that would make him noticed. Despite his popularity and success achieved mainly through radio, the musician made only enough money to survive. He lived most of his life in a modest house in the poor neighborhood of Estácio and only recently had moved to a small apartment in Catumbi. "I moved there," he joked, "so I can walk by myself to the cemetery when I die."

What he left was a $30,000 debt in the Panamericano hospital, a debt friends like musicians Beth Carvalho, Elza Soares, and Paulinho da Viola decided to pay by organizing a show at Canecão, a prestigious location for music in Rio. It was Moreira da Silva himself who asked for the show saying he wouldn't like to leave this bill to his relatives to pay.

Some people thought he was putting them on when he told about his date of birth: April Fool's Day. In fact, he was born on April 1st, 1902. Among several odd jobs he had, Morengueira worked for a sock factory and also as a taxi and ambulance driver. Among Morengueira's most popular songs are "Acertei no Milhar," "Morengueira Contra 007," and "O Rei do Gatilho," all good-humored stories, the latest two making fun of Hollywood and the Wild West. In 1995, he released the CD "Os Três Malandros," a parody to the Three Tenors—Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti —in partnership with Bezerra da Silva and Dicró.

One day before Morengueira's passing, Brazil had lost another sambista, and malandro symbol. It was João Nogueira, who died at age 58 from a heart attack, on June 5. He was the author of such musical pearls as "Um Ser de Luz," "Súplica" and "Minha Missão." Nogueira, a married man with two children, wouldn't heed his doctors who had advised him to stay away from alcohol. He never stopped his all-night parties always accompanied by his beer mug. He was getting ready to record a new CD with seven new songs among the 14 tunes selected for the album. It would have been his 19th disc.


Na Subida no Morro

Moreira da Silva

Voce mesmo sabe
que eu já fui um malandro malvado
somente estou regenerado.
Cheio de malícia
dei trabalho à polícia
pra cachorro (…)

Mas nunca abusei de uma mulher
que fosse de um amigo.
Agora me zanguei consigo
Hoje venho animado
a lhe deixar todo cortado.
Vou dar-lhe um castigo
meto-lhe o aço no abdomen
e tiro fora o seu umbigo

Going Up the Hill



You know very well
that I've been a mean street-smart guy
Even though I changed.
Full of malice
I gave a very hard time
to the police (…)

But I never abused a woman
who belonged to a friend.
Now I'm mad at you
Today I'm ready
to cut you all up.
I will punish you
I'll stick the steel in the abdomen
and I'll pull out your bellybutton
Internet

Voyeurs Welcome

Since May 23, Brazilian best-selling writer Mário Prata has opened the door of his apartment in São Paulo so anyone who wants can peek over his shoulder and see how his latest book is coming along. Prata, in a pioneering experience, is writing Os Anjos do Badaró while a web cam in his room shows him at work and a special setup allows any Internet user in the world to follow word by word the creation of the novel. The site address is http://marioprata.terra.com.br   and was created in partnership with the Terra portal and TV1. On June 11, 13 chapters had already been written.

"The inspiration for this new book came from reading newspaper classifieds from call girls," revealed the author. "I have never called any of them myself, but I like to imagine how each one of the girls is." After reading ads from eight different regions of Brazil, Prata came to the conclusion that the call girls offer very little information about themselves in São Paulo, reveal a little bit more in Rio, and tell the story of their lives in the Northeast.

Mário Alberto Campos de Morais Prata, 54, who was born in Uberaba, state of Minas Gerais, but grew up in Lins, a small town in the interior of São Paulo, has extensive experience as a writer. He has been successful writing plays, movie scripts, TV shows, newspaper columns and fiction books, naturally. Last year he released Minhas Mulheres e Meus Homens (My Women and My Men), his 24th book. In Minhas Mulheres Prata had dedicated some paragraphs to dentist Badaró, his friend, a man who after being cheated on by his wife, abandoned dentistry to create an agency for call girls.

Badaró became rich, but later killed himself. The plot of the new book starts when veteran police reporter Alcides Capella receives some diskettes with the names and details of 431 call girls. Capella suspects that Badaró was murdered and hopes the new information will help him know the truth.

Prata's deadline to deliver the book is November 25. Curiously enough, Os Anjos do Badaró is not going to become an electronic book to be sold on the Internet. The day after the conclusion all the chapters written will be erased from the author's site and will be printed in a traditional format. As the author explained: "I am writing a book for my publishing company, Objetiva, with their consent and it's not for the Internet. I am just fooling around, experimenting. For me a book has to have flaps."

The Mário Prata site has a place for suggestions and the author says that he is reading all of them even though he pretty much already knows what is going to happen: "I have the whole book inside my head. People send me many letters asking about the process of my work. This project is like giving birth, people will be able to see the book being born."

And he continues: "I believe this is an electronic feuilleton, but I don't know if people will follow the chapters as they do in a novela (soap opera). It is sheer madness to write in your house and to be seen in other peoples' houses."

Others

The Prata experiment comes in the wake of the huge success of American best-selling author Stephen King's e-book Riding the Bullet, which premiered on the Internet and drew 400,000 people on the day it was released. Another well-known Brazilian best-selling writer, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, is offering his latest book only through the Internet. Miséria e Grandeza do Amor de Benedita (Misery and Grandeur of Benedita's Love) is online thanks to a joint effort by Nova Fronteira, Ubaldo's publishing house and virtual bookstore Submarino.

The books costs a little less than $3 and is being offered in pdf format from Adobe, which allows people to get not only the text, but also an idea of how the printed book would look. For Nova Fronteira's editor Carlos Augusto Lacerda, the new book format is still "an exploratory work, a trial balloon." Lacerda believes that 100,000 people will download the book in the next twelve months and he hints that at that time a printed version of the work may be released.

Ubaldo, whose novel would be a short book of 80 pages if printed, does not seem particularly impressed with the new medium: "It was the same thing as writing for the paper, I didn't see that much difference. I have used a computer since 1996 and I am very interested in the matter, but I take care not to get too involved because I don't want to become a geek."

Miséria e grandeza do amor de Benedita is very similar to other books written in the past by João Ubaldo Osório Pimentel Ribeiro who lives in Rio, but was born in Itaparica, state of Bahia, on January 23, 1941. Benedita, the main character is married to Deoquinha, a incorrigible Don Juan who dies making love to his lover in the first page of the story.

Another virtual publishing house, the www.mercatus.com.br, has already announced that it has joined the e-book bandwagon and will soon release a collection of essays about female behavior by Marina Colasanti. Luiz Elísio de Melo, Submarino's commercial director, has already warned that he will be looking very closely at the interest generated by Ubaldo's book. "We are talking with several publishing houses about virtual books, but we will sign new contracts only if Ubaldo's book passes the test and becomes a success."

Os Anjos do Badaró, beginning paragraphs:


O suicida e o jornalista

Bogart se sentiria em casa. A sala do Dragão é exatamente como você imaginaria o local de trabalho do chefe geral de um jornal policial meio capenga. Não o chefe, o jornal. O Dragão me olhava nos olhos. Tinha me pedido uma matéria.

—Não, não posso. Você tem que compreender.

O Dragão, como a gente chamava o redator-chefe, me olhando. Atrás dele um relógio tão velho quanto a velha redação. De corda. Eu tinha certeza que ele ia me compreender. Ele tinha que saber que eu não estava em condições de escrever sobre a morte do Badaró.

—É uma amizade de mais de cinqüenta anos. Ou melhor, era.

—Era. Talvez dê uma chamadinha na primeira página. Afinal, não é a primeira vez que este seu amigo é notícia de jornal.

Ele se levantou e foi até a janela. Redator-chefe, não sei bem porque, adora ir até a janela quando conversa com a gente.

—Mas foi suicídio mesmo?

Claro que foi.

—Quanto a isso não há nenhuma dúvida. Deixou carta. Tiro na boca. Um estrago danado.

Acendeu um cigarro. Nunca consegui saber onde é que ele consegue aquele Continental sem filtro.

Tudo bem, o Nestor faz o perfil dele. Que horas que é o enterro?

Quando eu estava saindo, já me dirigindo para o elevador, o Gatão - com a delicadeza de sempre - me segurou pelo braço. Alisando a desgovernada barba:

—E aí? E as aulas?

—Tou fora.

—Mas foi o Dragão que mandou.

—O Dragão quem mandou! Quem! Não é que! É quem!!! Quem, quem, quem! Vê se aprende. Depois a gente se fala. Vou para o velório do Badaró. Me larga.

O Gatão insistia:

—Aquele negócio dos anjos, do consórcio. É mesmo verdade? Era só para mulher ou...

O elevador chegou. Alívio. Me mandei.


The suicide and the journalist

Bogart would feel at home. The Dragon's room is exactly like you would imagine the work place of the editor-in-chief of a third-rate police newspaper to be. The Dragon looked me in the eyes. He had asked me for an article.

—No, I can't. You have to understand.

The Dragon, as we used to call the editor-in-chief, is looking at me. Behind him a clock as old as the old press room. The winding type. I was sure he would understand me. He had to know that I was in no condition to write about the death of Badaró.

—It is a friendship of more than fifty years. Or rather it was.

—It was. It will perhaps be worthy of mention on the front page. After all, it is not the first time your friend has been news.

He stood up and went to the window. An editor-in-chief, I don't know exactly why, loves to go to the window when he talks to you.

—But was it really suicide?

Sure it was.

—There's no doubt about that. He left a letter. A shot in the mouth. An ugly wreck.

He lit a cigarette. I was never able to find out where he got that filterless Continental.

—That's OK, Nestor will write his profile. When is the funeral?

When I was leaving, already on my way to the elevator, Gatão—with the customary kindness—held me by the arm. Combing his disheveled beard:

—Tell me. What about the classes.

—I am out of it.

—But it was the Dragon that ordered it.

—The Dragon who ordered it! Who! It's not that! It's who!!! Who, who, who! See if you learn it. We'll talk later. I'm going to Badaró's funeral. Leave me alone.

Gatão insisted:

—That business of angels, of bidding club. Is that really true? It was only for women or…

The elevator arrived. Relief. I scrammed

.

Behavior

Cooled Down

Given two youngsters in love who would you think would be the more impulsive, ready to jump head first into a love relationship oblivious to the consequences: the Brazilian or the Swiss? If you answered Brazilian, as most people with some familiarity of both countries would probably do, you are dead wrong. That is if the conclusions of a new study are right. Brazilian and Swiss professors and psychologists conducted the survey. The study was done among middle and upper-middle class college students in Switzerland and Brazil. The researchers—University of Lausanne's Jean-Claude Deschamps, Universidade Federal da Paraíba's Leôncio Camino and Universidade Estadual Paulista's Celso Zonta—say the results were a big surprise for them.

Almost 400 students were surveyed. This included one hundred and forty two in Switzerland, and 240 in Brazil. While Brazilians are more interested in a relationship as a step to marriage and social climbing, Swiss students are searching for intense relationships that have little or nothing to do with professional success. Why the pragmatism of the Brazilian upscale youth?

The researchers believe that this caution adopted in Brazil and the desire to start a family early in life has to do with the economic instability Brazilians have been enduring for generations. The search for lasting and solid relationships serves as a counterbalance to the economic insecurity.

In an interview with Rio's daily O Globo, Celso Zonta raised the hypothesis that the Brazilian behavior can be explained by the role families play in intimate relationships in Brazil: "Here, the social relationships are valued above individual feelings."

For psychologist Suzanna Schreiber from Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro who was also heard by O Globo, "In Switzerland the youngsters have a more isolated life and this can contribute to the immediacy in a relationship and possessive love. In Brazil we have the opposite. Social conditions favor the encounter of generations and contacts are easier to make. There are more opportunities for choice."

The Catholic Church and its omnipresent influence might be another important factor in this mix. In Switzerland, Protestantism is the main religious force. And as some experts point out, Brazilians for the most part like to stress the notion of romantic love, which ideally is also eternal.

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