Friday, March 6, 2009


I am never certain of how I would feel like in Brazil.  Joyfully sad or sadly 
content, perhaps hilariously sad. The fact is I will always have a sad component the to trip. I mean: Brazil is so beautiful there is no way you can be there and not feel sad about the rest of the world. The people of Brazil know this feeling and often express it in their ambivalence for passion and restraint. Regardless of how hard life is for the everyday brazilian, they know how to live. Feel every moment to its fullest, tomorrow may not be there for you! 

I visited Florianopolis (Floripa) as a safe introduction to the brazilian carnival.  Considered the 4th largest "Carnaval" in the country, using national census statistics (yeah the census in Brasil tallies the Carnaval attendance) Floripa's carnaval is none the less the gayest in the world.

Lets put some history in your head for starters. Floripa is actually the Island of Santa Catarina in the souther state by the same name. Florianopolis is actually the main city in the island.   Many gay brasilians prefere to be in Floripa for carnaval mostly to get away from the "general public" in their own cities. Unfortunately they swap tradition  for non-stop circuit parties usually sponsored by "The Week" clubs. Being the hard headed anti-establishment commie that I am, I dragged my friends to all the traditional festivities. Guess what?  They were gay as a goose! 

First night of Carnaval is mostly about the Samba School's Parade. Just at the edge of the bay the city has been building a new Sambodromo "Passarela Nego Quirido" (Beloved Black Man). The sambadrome's name alludes to their pride in the richness of their cultural heritage. Born from the centuries of integration, all the races came together to make the brazilian people some of the most striking (if not most beautiful) people in this planet. 

Our first day was spend at the beach, the second at the malls buying our outfits.  For less than 50$ (in my case 5$ worth of feathers, a thong and a glue gun) you may also part take in the festivities. You may even go to the local mall and buy an official fantasia (costume) sponsored by one of the Samba schools and parade with their posy.  Watching the parade is a spectacle not to be missed tickets are sold way in advance and may be found in the internet at  The initial parade is the most beautiful and last till dawn allowing up to 11 schools of several hundred dancers to showcase their talents and stage magic.

The beaches are the place to mingle but be prepared to not get any sound tourist advice.
Praia Mole and Galheta are the main gay beaches Mole beach is shared with the surfers and a good crowd of young straight couples usually gathered around their favorite tach roofed watering holes. Bar do Deca is located at the left end of the beach just before the awsome nature trails that lead to the nude beach of Galheta.  Nature in the island ranges from subtropical to rain forest thick with vegetation, wild orchids and bromeliads growing perched up in the cliffs. A walk down any one trail is guaranteed to yield gorgeous gardens (as if professionally landscaped) and incredible granite monoliths that litter the island. Geographically the island was formed in the same event that fragmented Pangea. As a result South America and Africa became continents and the same incredible geography that made Rio de Janeiro so sublime made this island the little gem it is.

The second day of Carnaval "Carnival do Roma" is all about the portuguese transvestites:

The island has long been inhabited by Portuguese that came from the Azores. The same people that originally populated most of Provincetown when we gays first arrived. (See were I am going) Much like in Ptown the long (though much milder) winters gave the cod fisherman much to think about. So besides becoming very artistic and musically inclined they also figured out a way to make their own version of Carnaval. Before the excess of the Rio and Sao Paulo's carnavales dazzeled us with half naked bodies covered in glittering outfits, these humble fisherman and their wives figured they would give each other 4 days of license to play in each others clothes. Yah Brazils biggest gay carnaval started and still is to the day a big cross-dressing party.  Word to the wise if it is in drag , cute and kisses you, chances are he is a straight family man having fun with his feminine side. Regardless of this license you may not score much with these men. Oh yeah and that a cute thin masculine guy around the corner may be his wife. The cross dressing event is a family affair and many futbol matches happen impromptu right in the middle of dancing crowds to the beats of some of brazil best musicians and amongst happy children carried atop the shoulders of their proud cross-dressing hot daddies.

The gay beaches are all about the hottest "bods" many times over surgically enhanced. Contrasting that to the athletic more natural beauty of the straight guys balancing precariously on their wives' high heels it is easy to see why I preferred to skip the circuit party that night.

Brazil is one of the Mecca's for medical tourism, buyer beware, search for a good surgeon with a good reputation. Medical facilities are at par if not many times better than here in America.  One prominent surgeon in the community is Dr. Anacletto Bassetto Jr. he is a very sweet and approachable plastic surgeon who treats many celebrities in and out of the island.

 While the succulent lips and firm tight derrières are unforgettable; I still like my gringos, just like my morning eggs: hard boiled and bland. But there is no denying that a hardy breakfast needs always be complimented with a snack or two of salty and sweet. Brazilians are in deed very expressive and yes that is part of being sexual but do not confuse their openness with lasciviousness. Brasilians by culture have a tendency to be romantic if not a bit extremly idealistic but most certainly always very aware of their decorum.  As forward as they are, most will be insulted with sexual aggressiveness.    

I found that out the third night at The Transgender competition "Gay Pop Festival".

The Gay Pop is an outright beauty pageant full of great comedy, dance and live music, seldom will a respectable drag-queen or "trany" show girl lip-synch to a Britney song and most of the music performed is specifically written for these shows. Gay pop usually stats with a fashion show runway at the local mall using the 7 levels of steep escalators as their perilous cat walks. 
Followed that night with the talent show part of the competition, attendance is in the thousands so get there early to get a good spot. This year the venue had to be moved to a new  square left of the huge bus station in order to accommodate the increasing crowds. We showed up in our gogo-boy's carnaval outfit and though respectably covered by Samba chick standards my fuzzy butt cheeks caused a paparazzi frenzy of photographers either in admiration for my courage or in outrage disapproval. Proving my theory that "Men" as an object of desire or physical admiration are still considered a taboo and while woman are to be admired their function has remained that of Eve, the unattainable temptress.   From there and almost by mob control body guards we continued to the third and largest of the circuit parties at the tent in Mole Beach eco-resort. There again to my surprise the thong and body glitter makeup was received with unsettling yet extreme mix reviews or perhaps was my less than surgically perfectly waxed gluteus.

And in the fourth day the lord created the Beach:

I stayed home waiting for my now ex, chewing angry flavored bubble gum and wondering if the rule on missing people reports in Brazil was 20 hours or 24. Word to the wise: keep your children at home were they would not be lead into temptation AMEN!
My other travel companions traveled south to a wonderful little town called Riverao one of the first Azorian settlements on a rich Oyster bed. Riverao is charming quiet and full of romantic corners by the lagoon. They highly recommended a gay-popular restaurant called Ostradamus were oysters and giant prawns are served on skewers by gorgeous young lads in a colonial setting.  I was rescued from my self imposed vigia da misericordia several hours after to attend the last event of the carnival: Campeãs do Carnaval de Florianópolis (The parade of the Champions).

A free entry event, you still need to stand in line early to find tickets as the controls require them for no apparent reason. Perhaps this is the way the census keeps tabs? Once inside the sambodromo find a spot near the railings or free from people sitting in front of you. As soon as the music starts everyone stands up to dance and sing.  The Enredos or theme songs are played live with the aid of speakers mounted on trucks. All the instruments are played by the musicians that belong to that school from children to elderly. The theme songs are played over the radio weeks before the parades. So it seemed to us tourist that the songs were popular tunes repeated, as it turns out all songs are original, unique and will never be played again in another carnaval. But the tunes are so catchy you will soon find your self mouthing the choruses and clapping your hands. Samba Schools are Brazils answer to our ailing non working population, more social clubs than dance schools the Escola do Samba touches the heart of Brazil providing the elderly a gathering place to pass their knowledge and the children a safe haven away from home. Samba schools do have fees and memberships but in a tradition of altruism they sponsor many of their most talented young musicians, dancers, stage managers, choreographers and  fashion designers. Every member of all ages part takes in the construction of their floats, costumes and in the aid of those who can no longer dance their way down the Passarela.  

I am sad to see the discarded floats, costumes and left overs of this the greatest party on earth, all so brilliantly festive just hours ago. King Momo returns the key of the city to the mayor in turn and in an dissonant short speech the president congratulates the nation and wishes them a happy new year. 

Ash wednesday February 25, 2009
Brazil officially starts a year already born.

Photos by: J Andres Rodriguez, Diario Catarinense, Brent Zimmerman and Cyril Gaultier 

Friday, February 20: TOY at The Week Floripa DJs Isaac Escalante, Renato Cecin, Pacheco Saturday, February 21: Nova Pool Party at The Week Floripa at 2pm DJs J. Louis (Matinee Group), Pacheco, Ricardo Gonzales Babylon International Connection at The Week Floripa  DJs Tony Moran, Gra Ferreira Sunday, February 22: Sunrise at Iate Casablanca, leaving at 1pm DJs Ale Bittencourt, Miguel Alanis, and Aless The Week's Angels At The Week Floripa DJs Seamus Haji, Ranato Cecin, Pacheco Monday, February 23: Dancefloor at the Week Floripa DJs Peter Rauhofer, Juanjo Martin, Renato Cecin Tuesday, February 24: Nova Pool Party at The Week Floripa  DJs Chris Cox, Ricardo Gonzalez, Grá Ferreira, Pacheco, Renato Cecin

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