Brazil’s Globo TV company is producing a new novella called “Sexo e as negas“ (“Sex and denials“), about a group of four black women living in a lower-class neighbourhood in the Zona Norte of Rio de Janeiro, loosely based on Sex and the City.
Instead, however, of it being about four white women working prominent jobs in Manhattan, the wealthiest neighbourhood in the wealthiest country on earth, the four black characters are poor (but glamorous), and work as a cleaner, a seamstress, a manual labourer and a cook.
(Also don’t search that title on Google, or you’ll come up with a lot of naughty pictures).
Despite Brazil having a huge share of black people in prominent and senior positions (including a potential future black female president in Marina Silva), Globo’s novellas on TV prefer to cast black people in poor, subservient roles where they are the comic foil or lackey. Black men and women are cleaners, manual labourers or shop assistants in the world of Globo scriptwriters.
In the latest smash-hit novella from Globo, Meu Pedacinho de Chão, here is the main cast (which you’ll notice doesn’t feature any black characters at all):
And here’s the black character:
And here’s the female lead protagonist, just because:
The cast is whiter than milk, which obviously doesn’t represent the real Brazil. In fact, the characters are so white it only represents the small contingent of European descendant Brazilians that live in southern Brazil and still have blue eyes and blonde hair. They’re a tiny percentage of Brazil’s population (think Gisele), but they receive the most amount of attention on TV, are considered the most glamorous and hold the most senior positions.
The majority of Brazilians are a mix of caramel, coffee and chocolate skin colours. Most of them aren’t that poor; they hold down jobs and buy cars and drink beers and speak other languages and have dreams. but Globo doesn’t want to portray that side, which is pretty sinister and cruel when you think of the insane popularity these shows have in Brazil and what that would do to a person’s psyche.
For Globo, it’s everyone in their place, forever, and for black people, that means staying poor and pathetic.
Last Friday I visited Belo Horizonte’s most expensive and luxurious “love motel” Le Monde for a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s absolutely not what I expected from a motel, or even a five-star hotel. The level of luxury is astounding.
This drive-in motel on the outskirts of the city is a place where, for just £160 ($270) an hour(!), clients have access to their own private pool and jacuzzi, as well as beds with mirrored ceilings, steam-rooms and sex-furniture. Of the more interesting aspects, the motel offers sex-toy room-service, private underground nightclubs (available for a mere 5,000 reais a night) and retractable roofs (to bathe under the stars).
Above all, it offers absolute discretion for you and your girlfriend, wife, mistress or prostitute.
Have look at the video:
Now, although it may seem seedy to visit a motel for a few hours to have sex, this is an entirely normal act in a country in which one in four Brazilians live with their parents long into their 30’s. Young lovers go there to celebrate their one-year anniversaries, for example.
All of my friends I asked about the motels said they had visited them, often regularly in the case of those with girlfriends and boyfriends. Having a motel to take your lover is crucial when your parents sleep in the bedroom next to you.
Motels are also legally required to offer the utmost privacy for their clients. Garbage from the room is kept in a closed garage until it’s disposed of in an unmarked truck. Staff deliver food and drink through a network of hidden corridors that run behind the rooms, and revolving cupboards mean staff never even see the client.
The whole transaction, from parking up and entering the room from the garage, to ordering food and then settling the bill, can all be done without any face-to-face interaction.
You could do it completely naked and no-one would know.
What’s more, overseas tourists visiting Brazil for the 2014 World Cup are set to be staying, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in these love motels. Ricardo, Le Monde‘s General Manager, confirmed 500 tourists from China, Finland, the UK, the US and Arabic states have all made reservations at his love motel.
I guarantee they will enjoy their stay there.
This is a high-end luxury motel, and its cleanliness and professionalism reflect that. For my next trip I’ll try and visit the cheapest one I can find and report back on my findings. Love motels get as low as 20 reais an hour here (about £5, $8), so it could get pretty seedy.
Seeing these images I’m still fairly skeptical. The teacher is called Igor Fuchs (for Fuchs sake!).
I’m all for prostitutes being supported and cared for in what is a difficult and dangerous profession, but realistically, how many words are they going to need to know? It’s not like they’re going to be explaining the entire plot of The Lord of the Rings. The Brazilian prostitutes need to know about six words and a few numbers. All of which can be communicated with hand-gestures.
Remember, prostitution is a totally-legal, trade union-certified profession in Brazil. It involves consenting adults. Pimping is illegal, as it should be.
Child prostitution is a huge issue in Brazil. Let’s bring shameful images like the one below to the forefront of the international media and help make sure more work is done to help children in danger.
If you’d like to know more or donate to a good cause please check out Meninadanca.org, a charity running a school that protects and cares for street-children that have been forced into prostitution.
Also, look out for my short video documentary behind the scenes of Belo Horizonte’s most expensive and luxurious “love motel”, a pay-by-the-hour favourite amongst wealthy Brazilians, and where a huge number of foreign tourists will be staying during their time here at the 2014 World Cup.
Here are my observations on Brazilian nightclubs, having lived here as a foreigner and been taken out many times over the years.
1) Going out to nightclubs in Brazil is EXPENSIVE. Expect to spend R$200 to R$400 (£110, US$160) on an average night out for nightclub entry, drinks, taxis and late-night food. It’ll cost way more if you’re in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.
As an example, entry into a nightclub might be R$40 if you don’t drink, or R$100 for the opportunity to drink (not free drinks, just the permission to drink). On top of that, cocktail and spiritss might be R$17 with a beer about R$12.
2) You queue to enter the club… and you queue to exit. Most nightclubs give you a drinks-list card when you enter, which you use to “pay” for drinks during the night. Barmen NEVER accept cash or card. Instead they mark what you order on the card and you pay at the end at a register near the entrance. It takes ages, so get in the queue early and pay for your drinks, then carry on dancing until they kick everyone out. But remember, you can’t have any more drinks once you’ve paid.
3) If you lose your drinks-card you’ll pay a HUGE fine at the end of the night when you try to leave. I’ve seen threats of R$1000 (£250, US$350) written on the card. This is to stop people drinking the bar dry and then “losing” their card to get out of paying.
4) DO NOT LOSE YOUR DRINKS-CARD. I can’t stress this enough.
5) It’s common for a Brazilian guy to start kissing a girl in a nightclub with the minimum of talking, like teenagers at their first roller-disco. Just don’t be surprised if they’re kissing someone else at the end of the night. Kissing doesn’t have the same value it has in Britain or America. In a Brazilian nightclub, kissing is as intimate as a hug.
6) I almost guarantee the music in a Brazilian nightclub will be Sertaneja (two guys crooning love songs), Forró (Swing dancing, pronounced “Fo-ho”), Pagode (Samba-dancing, pronounced “Pagojj”), Funk (Favela rap with a cha-cha-cha beat, pronounced “Funky”), crappy UK and US pop music or electro.
7) Learning to dance a little will not steer you wrong. Brazilian girls are very approachable and they will enjoy you teaching them something cool. I can’t dance but my friend can, and the girls love him.
8) If a girl is not with her boyfriend in a night-club then she is (almost certainly) single. Same for guys. Brazilians with boyfriends and girlfriends do not go to nightclubs, and Brazilian couples rarely go out together, unless it’s a special event like a Forró dance.
9) If you have been talking with a girl or guy for more than two minutes in a nightclub you are expected to kiss her. “Why are you talking to her if not to kiss?” is the reasoning behind this.
If a girl or guy does not want to talk to you do not press the issue.
10) Most big nightclubs let you choose between paying just for entry, or entry and free drinks all night. The first option might be R$20, the second might be R$100. You get given your drinks-card and it will be marked with the option you chose. Remember, bar-staff don’t accept cash, so choose carefully.
11) Some nightclubs don’t offer “drink-all-you-can”, and so you have to queue up at a little booth and buy tokens. It’s a security issue, to keep all the cash in one heavily-secured place, and to stop barmen from stealing it.
12) You will be patted down or made to walk through a metal-detector when you enter a Brazilian nightclub. Leave your guns and knives at home.
14) You can get VIP in most nightclubs if you’re willing to pay a little more. Girls can go in and out of VIP areas but guys will need a wristband. You’ll have bottle service and you’ll get lots of attention, blah-blah-blah.
15) You’re a gringo, a tourist, a foreigner. You may get lots of attention by virtue of this, but keep it respectful. Brazil is a dangerous place to get really drunk and start fighting or being rude. Enjoy yourself, have a few drinks and go back to your hotel at the end of the night.
Please take all advice about picking up Brazilian guys and girls with a grain of salt, I don’t want you thinking Brazilian men and women are constantly “lookin’ to score” (like certain Adidas executives believe).
Uphold the same values and respect you have for the opposite sex in your own country. Brazil is no different to other countries, despite over-sexualised, cartoonish media imagery that portrays Brazil to most foreigners as a land of sun, bums and caiprinhas.
This is completely the wrong perception to take with you when you travel to Brazil, and one that will get you slapped.
News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.