BRAZZIL - News from Brazil - RAPIDINHAS - APRIL 96

Rapidinhas - April 96

Rio's Biblical first couple

Adam and Eve


Back to Eden

Rio's Marquês de Sapucaí, the avenue where the Escolas de Samba and their characters parade on Carnaval, has become the main annual showcase for budding stars. And this year is no exception. With a story entitled "Creator and Creature" Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel won first prize. Among the creatures: Frankenstein, genetic engineering, and computer. But the most celebrated of them were Adam and Eve, both only covered with a vine leaf for a cache-sex. Luíza Ambiel, the new Eve, was already famous due to her Sunday stint as the girl who snatches men in a bathtub on Domingo Legal, a popular TV program.
For Beto Simas, Rio's Adam, however, the avenue show was an apotheosis. The 30-year-old swimmer, cyclist and capoeirista has shown an enviable physique and ended up being chosen as the muse of Carnaval '96. Hollywood was watching, and soon after his presentation, Adam left Rio for Los Angeles where he went to discuss details of his participation in the next Jean Claude Van Damme movie. The married man and father of three children also received an invitation to parade in New York beside Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.


Rain Man

Heloísa Vinhas, 23, a Brazilian born in Santos, São Paulo, came to Los Angeles to become a star. And she ended up taking part in a scene with no less than Hollywood hot property Tom Cruise even before she could start her theater classes. The March 4 chance encounter, however, is nothing Vinhas would like to repeat. It was a rainy day and she had just left the restaurant where she works as a waitraess, the California Chicken Café, in Santa Monica, in Greater Los Angeles, when she was hit by a car while crossing the street on the crosswalk.
The driver didn't stop to help her, but Cruise, who was coming behind, stopped his Porsche, followed the ambulance who took her to the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and even paid the $7,000 bill when it became clear that the Brazilian didn't have medical insurance or the money to pay for the operations she needed. Vinhas, despite the gravity of the accident, had only a fractured leg and some ruptured knee ligaments.
The next day Cruise called her in the hospital to see how she was doing. Three days after the accident, which happened to be her birthday, came a new surprise from the actor: flowers sent to the hotel where she lives with a happy birthday card signed by Cruise, his wife Nicole and their two children. "He was extremely kind," said Vinhas. "And he is not even one of my favorite actors. I prefer Christopher Lee and Vincent Price."


Naked city

Taquara, a little town 40 miles from Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, with an economy based on cattle and agriculture and an obscure archeological museum as its main attraction, hasn't inspired many tourists to drop by. But all of this might change soon. The town's city hall has requested that Taquara be recognized as a tourist community. The idea for such a change came to the city's fathers after a group of nudists decided to create the Clube Colina do Sol, a closed condominium to shelter nudists.
The project is grandiose, envisioning a community with 450 houses, 30 shops, five restaurants, a hotel and a camping area. Developed by Naturis, a company owned by Celso Rossi, president of Federação Brasileira de Naturismo, Colina do Sol already has 15 houses built under large trees and around an artificial lake. A contract prevents people from reselling their houses to non-naturist people. "The place is for those who are tired of their lifestyle and are looking for a simple life, without luxuries and without clothes," explained Rossi. His initial idea was to build the complex in Bahia, but he was discouraged by the opposition of Bahian society to nudism. In Rio Grande do Sul, a population mostly formed by Italian and German immigrants, seems more tolerant of the in-the-buff way of life.

The nickname of the game

Telemig, the phone company that serves the state of Minas Gerais, is not happy with the destination of their phone books in the little town of Itambacuri. They are thrown on the trash or just forgotten in an obscure corner of the house. When looking for a telephone number the entire city prefers to consult an unofficial book that lists people by their nicknames. The directory has the nicknames for the 3,000 telephone owners in town. Celso Borges Cordeiro, the town's physician for example, is presented only as the Médico. When someone has no sobriquet, the phone book uses their first name followed by a relative's name. This way, farmer Mário Alves Pereira, for example, became Mário de Antoninho de Camilo (Mário from Antoninho from Camilo). Antoninho is Mário's father and Camilo is his grandfather. And everybody else is also there: Yoyô, Dodó, Azul (Blue), Português e o Boate (Nightclub).

Not yet promised land

Preliminary numbers from the 1993 National Research by Home Sample from the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) are in and there are results for all tastes. The gap between rich and poor, for example, is still colossal with the 10% richest taking 49.8% of all the wealth and the 10% poorest having to share 0.7% of what is left. The census reveals also that 70.9% of all Brazilians own the homes they live in, but only 19.8% of these houses have a telephone. TV sets are in 75.8% of the residences, washing machines in 24.3% of them, while only 12.9% own a freezer. Close to 96,000 households and 330,000 people were consulted. In an unrelated disclosure, the IBGE revealed that in 1995 Brazil has regained the 8th position in GNP among all countries in the world, swapping place with China and coming just after Canada. The Brazilian GNP grew to $677 billion compared to China's $619 billion and Canada's $774 billion. The US comes in first with $7.1 trillion followed by Japan with $3.9 trillion.

Regaining the charm

News of crime, destruction of the Amazon and the massacre of Indians has scared away many foreigners willing to go to Brazil. In 1990, the situation hit rock bottom with only 1 million foreign tourists going for a visit. The situation has been getting better recently. Last year the number of foreign visitors jumped to 1.8 million. Crime has gone from 1st to 4th place as the main concern of visitors, but most of them are still complaining about the lack of infrastructure in the country: things like traffic signs, bilingual menus, decent taxi cabs. The new data were just released by Embratur, the Brazilian Tourism authority. The favorite destination of travelers continues to be Rio (42% of visitors), followed by São Paulo, which gets just half that amount. Brazil, despite its beaches, the Pantanal and the Amazon, still has a long way to go to fully profit from tourism. Even tiny Uruguay receives more tourists (2.2 million a year) than Brazil.

Busy skies

Only the US has a bigger fleet of executive planes than Brazil. The revelation was made by Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral (Brazilian Association of General Aviation), ABAG, which also disclosed that this sector is growing 5% a year in the country. According to Ivan Correia, ABAG's President, this has to do with the immensity of the country. "The private plane is a necessity," he said. Mexico, Canada and France follow Brazil in the category.


Are Brazilian McDonald's hamburguers politically correct? They are not, say David Morris and Helen Steel from the British Greenpeace ecological group. The restaurant chain, according to them, is using meat from cattle that grazes on pastureland planted over old, devastated Amazon forest. McDonald's refuses to admit any wrongdoing and went to Court, suing Morris and Steel for defamation and asking $10 million in damages. The McDonald's foes, however, say that only an indemnification from the restaurant given to a charity institution will make them stop their crusade.

Taxing on line

The Brazilian IRS lion has already set up its trap on the Internet. Since mid-March, those taxpayers willing to file their income taxes electronically can download the necessary forms from Those not connected to the communication superhighway who wish to send their form via modem will have to go to an agency of Receita Federal to get a diskette with all the information.


High talk

With First Lady Ruth Cardoso offering her two cents in favor of decriminalizing the use of marijuana in Brazil, talking about drugs has become de rigueur among the Brazilian intelligentsia. There's a whole culture and language which goes with the fad. Here's a little lexicon to help you on your trip to understand the phenomenon:

barato -- a drug's effect
baseado, bagulho, bomba -- pot
bater um -- (to beat one) to prepare the cocaine for snorting it
bocada -- (mouthful) -- place to buy drugs
bode -- (goat) urge to sleep
branco -- (white) faintness
canaleta -- (gutter) -- vein
chocolate -- hashish
dar uma luz -- (give a light) transitory high
docinho -- (little candy) lysergic acid
erva do diabo -- (devil's weed) pot
fino -- (the thin one) pot cigarette
fralda -- (diaper) pot paper
mardita -- pot
marica -- (pansy) any object used to hold the grass
palha -- (straw) bad quality pot
pedra -- (stone) crack
pico -- (prick) injection in the vein
poeira -- (dust) cocaine
tuim -- same as barato
-- (as in Mike Tyson) strong, knocking-down pot

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