Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Brazil" Undressed

Hey guys,

Just in case you haven't gotten enough of Brazil from me... is some more.



You can do it. Go naked. Shake your hips. Wax your nether regions. Be “Brazilian.” Whether it is pornography sites, beauty salons, or governmental policy, in the United States, Brazil and sex are definitely in bed together.

Asked what types of words were evoked by “Brazilian,” 18 out of 20 people interviewed made reference to sex or sexuality. Similar to the way that “American” evoked words such as “ignorant, fast-food,” and “hypocrite” to Brazilian Fransisco Romano on the phone from northeastern Brazil, each country carries its own stereotypical baggage. What is in this baggage, though, is more than just a bikini.

The reality is that money forges a bond between sex and “Brazilian,” on many levels. “Is prostitution a problem or a solution?” states Fransisco Sampa, head of the Brazilian American United Organization, “there is an economy that functions around this.” In a conversation regarding Brazilian immigrants living in Newark, Sampa believes sex is an underlying issue. In a quick phone call to a friend, Sampa jokingly referred to “that site with all my ‘relatives,’” as he procured the address to a site for men looking for Brazilian prostitutes in the US. “Even Brazil puts forth the myth of the Brazilian woman,” he said, as animated body parts jiggled and jived on the computer screen behind him.

The issue is extremely complex, and Sampa points to a larger issue of policy and perspective regarding sex and prostitution in Brazil. In 2005, the New York Times reported that Brazil renounced $40 million in US aid for HIV prevention because of a requirement that aid recipients openly denounce prostitution. This national openness towards prostitution and sex endemic to Brazil provides a stark contrast to the abstinence-only approach to AIDS and sex education preferred by the Bush administration.

Despite what the government thinks, though, US citizens still buy into the sexuality of Brazil on many levels—and Brazilians are selling. At Maria Bonita, a chic salon & spa in Soho, the Brazilian bikini wax is a huge hit. On a user reviewing site, the Brazilian salon sparked a 15-post-long conversation in which participants discussed their own hairy specifics through sexual banter and innuendo—pun intended. Wearing another type of “intimate apparel,” Supermodel Giselle Bunchen, along with what can only be considered a harem of Brazilian models poses on the pages of the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Inside its pages, the “Brazilian Cut” underwear on a Brazilian model who is certainly “cut,” stand behind the millions of dollars spent packaging a “Brazil” that is bought, sold, and decidedly sexual.

In a review for the “New Yorker,” Sasha Frere-Jones describes his reaction to a Brazilian rock band: “You don’t sound Brazilian,” he reports thinking. That band, wildly popular both in the US as well as in Brazil, may represent a new aspect of the relationship between sex and Brazil. Their name is CSS, initials that stand for “tired of being sexy” in Portuguese. Maybe --just, maybe--they are on to something.

1 comment:

A. Loeff said...

I really enjoyed your post! The lead is very tempting.