Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sao Paulo Gay Pride 2011 (Photo Sabotage!)

Since I wrote my last blog a few weeks back, Sao Paulo gay pride rolled into town! Last Sunday was the biggest gay pride in the world, with about 4 million people out on the streets. I have not been to a gay pride outside of Sao Paulo, so I'm not sure how similar it is to other 'pride' events out there. But it was very similar to the 'blocos' I went to during Rio carnival, in that large lorries would drive very slowly down the street, pumping out dance music...and everyone would follow. On top of these lorries were mainly dancing guys wearing speedos, with bodies very similar to mine...obviously!

I had planned to stay for just a few hours, take a few pictures of some horrendous trannies and be home in time for tea....but I ended up staying much longer because despite the rain, there was a great party atmosphere. Perhaps the most random thing that happened was documented by this picture.

Of course there were a load of transvestites out to party; there were actually times when I felt like I was in some kind of transvestite zoo! Along with a lot of other snap-happy party goers, I took plenty of pictures of the (mainly bad) transvestites! I guess if you are a big exhibitionist and into dressing flamboyantly, gay pride must be your idea of heaven, because it really is an attention seekers paradise! One tranny in particular had me reaching for my camera, to make sure I had a picture before he had chance to disappear into the crowd.
So this guy was dressed as a ballet dancer, and had the whole ballet get-up on. However, he was really going all out to be noticed in his tu-tu, and he was walking around on his tip toes. He actually looked like he was in pain as he was tottering around, trying to draw attention to himself. So naturally, he was very happy to pose for a picture with me and my friend Bruno! Just as my friend Kiko was about to take the picture, the ballet tranny’s friend came running over. This transvestite was wearing some kind of slutty marching band outfit, and without saying a word, he dramatically did the splits in front of us.
Sensing Kodak gold, an excited woman (who as you can see, could quite easily have passed for a Brazilian bag woman) ran over just in time for the picture to be taken. So there was me and my friend Bruno, ballet tranny, splits tranny and random bag woman all posing for this picture (above). The reason I love this picture is because, by splits tranny doing the splits, she has made sure ballet tranny’s really pointy feet can’t be seen (the reason I wanted this picture!).
I’d like to think this was done deliberately, ands that splits tranny was being malicious!
After this picture was taken, and as we all started to break the pose, splits tranny was still in the splits position and needed a bit of help to get up....not surprising! But when he eventually got up, he looked mortified! In his rush to be the main focus of my picture, he had forgotten that it had been raining quite a lot, and that the road still had a lot of rain on it. His beige knickers were now soaking and a bit wet! Well, when I say a bit, I am lying....they were a lot wet, and he definitely looked like he had just wet himself in his cheerleading knickers. I couldn’t help but laugh a lot at his sad face, yet at the same time 100% admire him for doing the splits just for my picture!

As I walked off I wondered if ballet tranny would have been angry with splits tranny for stealing the limelight and would now be just a few minutes away from kicking splits tranny's wet ass.....with her toes and feet perfectly positioned!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ubatuba New Year

One thing I hadn’t thought about as I was leaving Brazil, was how cold it could get over here. And why would I!?! I guess on each rare occasion Brazil is on the news back home, the news crews don't tend to film Brazilians wearing jumpers or jackets in winter. Perhaps I had naively imagined tropical weather here, all day, every day...with people doing a bit of samba round the supermarkets, as they did their weekly shopping in their bikinis.

Well I’m here now, and not only does this not happen, but I am happy I packed those sweaters!
Kiko and Larissa, on route to Ubatuba.
Whilst mornings over here aren’t nearly as cold as they can be in England, it can still be pretty chilly. On a night it gets to about as low as 5/10 degrees. For me this is a bit cold, but not nearly as cold as I’m used to. I was fascinated when I saw one elderly woman on the news recently, and she was stood there with all of her clothes on, warming up her bed sheets with a hairdryer. Then she got into bed, put the hairdryer under the sheets and again turned it on (Oi, Oi!) to get a bit warmer. Why she hadn’t gone out to buy a heater, or why she had invited the news crews into her bedroom to film her, as she lay there with a hairdryer under the sheets, I have no idea! But you get the idea...she was cold (and a little bit mental!). Hearing Brazilians complain about cold weather any time they need to put a sweater on is quite surprising for me! 
But let me take this opportunity to reminisce about at time when the weather was much warmer, during my summer vacation in December (And yea, I still think it’s weird that the seasons fall on different months of the year!).
Last November when my friend Kiko invited me to join him and his friends on a trip to Ubatuba, I jumped at the chance. Ubatuba is a coastal city, and not particularly famous with foreigners outside of Brazil, so going there for New Year gave me the opportunity to experience how New Year is commonly celebrated by Brazilians!
Compared to the hustle and bustle of the Sao Paulo life I have become used to, Ubatuba is a much more relaxing place to be. Our place was just one block from the beach and there was not nearly as much traffic, so needless to say, during the day we spent plenty of our time relaxing on the beach. I was pretty excited about spending my first New Year on a beach too (and I mean in a hot country...I am not counting being on Scarborough beach in England here!).
After going out for a meal on New Year’s Eve at about 10pm (I have just made myself sound really sophisticated haven’t I, we just went out for some pizza!), we drove towards our house near the beach. There were so many people out on the streets, all wearing white and drinking beer. Over here white is worn to see in the New Year here because it is supposed to bring peace for the upcoming year.

After going back to the house and grabbing a few beers, myself and the other eleven people I was sharing the house with headed down to the beach to join the party.
But just as we were leaving the house, it started chucking it down! So five minutes later I was stood on the beach; in the rain, in my white tee-shirt, wet and a little cold (I apologise now to the ladies imagining me like this, I didn’t mean to excite you!)....wondering what the hell I was doing! The rain didn’t dampen the party spirit though, and as luck would have it, about ten minutes before midnight, the rain stopped. The fireworks went off at midnight to signal the start of the New Year.
The guys I shared a house with in Ubatuba.
Two of my good friends, Kiko and Larissa, popped open their sparkling wine at the stroke of midnight. As you can imagine, midnight was pretty rowdy, and they shook these bottles and sprayed everyone around them with sparkling wine. It was obvious from looking at one girl, who was stood next to Kiko, that she had spent a while putting her make up on before leaving the house. One moment she was jumping up and down celebrating with everyone, and the next, Kiko had managed to absolutely soak her with a huge spray of sparkling wine...completely wiping the smile (and half her make up) off her face! She stopped jumping around after this. After everyone had finished hugging and kissing (I have come to realise that Brazilian’s need much of an excuse to do this! Although kissing on the lips was a big no-no, apparently this is weird. So by default, this made me weird until about 12.02am, when I was told not to do this anymore!), what happened next was quite bizarre! I had been told what to expect, but seeing it with my own eyes was a real eye opener.
Everyone ran towards the sea. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE! 
The drive home.
You had grannies, teenagers, some kids and parents all running over towards the sea (in the dark), and everyone started jumping over the waves! Doing this is supposed to bring good luck. If you live by the beach in Brazil, I was told that it’s tradition for you to jump over the waves, seven times, as soon as it hits midnight, and make your wishes to the sea gods for the new year.
The sight of overweight, elderly women running into the sea at midnight, in the dark, jumping over the waves (like Sally Gunnell)...well, it was pretty surreal! There were also a lot of people on the beach lighting candles and placing gifts on the sand (I later found out these were being offered to the goddess of the sea, so my pleasure at seeing free things people had left on the beach turned to disappointment when I learnt the finders-keepers rule didn’t apply here!). And for the next twenty minutes, everyone celebrated on the beach against the backdrop of fireworks.

After this, myself and my housemates went back to the house to continue partying, and someone plugged their ipod into the speakers and blasted out some music. I remember going inside to get a beer, and I doubt I will forget in a hurry what I saw next as I walked back outside. I had NEVER seen ladies dancing in public like this before......

But this deserves a whole blog of its own!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Speedos, Nudity and Watermelons!

About a month ago I was at home reading (cough) The Sun Online (cough!), when I came across an article about the ‘sizzling hot weather’ Britain was experiencing. Under this headline was a picture of a crowded Brighton beach. “I really no understand why the peoples go the beach with many clothes” was what my Brazilian housemate said when he saw this picture. I explained to him that going to the beach in England was very different to going to the beach here in Brazil; because it is rarely hot enough to be walking around in just your swimwear. “I really no imagine going to the beach in many clothes! Where are the bikikis and where is the sunga?” The word sunga means speedo in Portuguese, and I know this because of a previous conversation I had had with him.
A week or so before travelling to the beach, Kiko asked me “do you have your clothes for the beach?”, “Of course I do” I replied. “So what colour are your sunga?” I remember being bemused as to how I should answer this question, I thought it must surely have been a joke. Yet it was apparent from the look on his face that he was being deadly serious! I explained how British people don’t really wear speedos...because they are pretty tight, and, well, pretty revealing! As I was soon to discover though, for an overwhelmingly large number of Brazilian men this is not an issue, sungas are considered to be staple beach wear. A few weeks after this conversation I was on the beach, and literally every guy was sporting a sunga! Before coming to Brazil, when I had imagined being on a beach over here, I had pictured the sun, clear blue seas, golden beaches and palm trees, and this was what I got...but what I definitely hadn’t imagined was all of this AND trying to avert my some middle aged, hairy, Brazilian men ran out of the cold sea (Baywatch style) in speedos!
The only rule I have been told that applies for speedo use over here is that they shouldn’t be white, because as you can imagine, these reveal a little too much!
When I enquired about using my local gym a few months back, I discovered that sungas are not simply worn at the beach. I was told I could use the pool, but only if I wore a pair of speedos. Board shorts there are not acceptable. I remember being pretty surprised by this, as it was only a few months ago I read a story about how a British holiday park had banned men from wearing speedos in their pools. I had naively assumed most other countires would share the same British view when it came to attitudes towards speedos. For an area used by so many women and children, it’s easy for me to imagine why men wearing tight spandex may cause some discomfort to people using the pool's facilities. However this attitude is evidently not adopted here in Brazil, or indeed in the majority of countries around the world...which got me thinking. 
I had no qualms about wearing speedos up until the age of 17, when I used to be into competitive swimming. I guess back then I considered them to be practical, and besides, everyone else in my team wore them. As I have got older I have come to accept that not only are they very unfashionable in England, but there are cultural ramifications for wearing a speedo. As a man, if your ball bag is visible at the beach or at a swimming pool in the UK, people are quick to assume you are either gay, or (how should I word this)....a bit of a perv.
A Japanese onsen, and these guys are just
 in the buff! This onsen definitely looked a little different
to the onsen at my local gym!
I remember it was not long after arriving in Japan that I started to use my local gym (I'm making myself sound like I'm really into the gym aren't I!). After using the gym for the first time I took a shower, and then I used the large, outdoor bath(called an onsen). But to use the onsen, you need to get butt naked! Foreigners in Japan will talk about the first time they bit the bullet, took off all their clothes in front of their Japanese friends and/or co-workers, and used the onsen; because this concept is pretty alien to us at first. Unless of course (and perhaps a little randomly!) you are a rugby player, then it is perfectly acceptable to be naked in a bath with your team mates. At first, this onsen experience felt a bit strange, yet by the time it came to leaving Japan I really thought nothing of whipping off my clothes for a soak in the bath, regardless of who I was with. I guess each culture has its own set of rules about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to the beach/bath/swimming pool...and that I have come to realise British men are definitely a little prudish in comparison to some of out international neighbours! My Brazilian friend's attitude is "so you might be able to see my dick through my sunga. And? Don't look if it's a problem!"
While I was at the beach, one of the girls I was with asked me what British women usually wear when they visit the beach. I explained when women go abroad, it is not uncommon for them to go topless. As that, this girl looked very shocked (almost disgusted), and explained that over here this would be considered low class behaviour. Walking around in a skimpy bikini (that could easily have been made with dental floss) is acceptable, but fully exposing your breasts is not. This of course seemed quite surprising to me, perhaps because to Brits abroad seeing a topless woman on the beach is not really a big deal!
Over here you get all kinds of shapes and sizes on the beach. I remember the first time I was at the beach in Rio, and I was sunbathing. I looked over at one woman who, with the greatest respect to her, was fookin’ enormous! She had on a tiny thong, and had maybe the biggest behind I’d ever seen. Then when she bent down to get something out of her bag, what I was looking at could quite easily have been the back end of a horse! If she was English this woman would probably have been one of those women who goes into the sea in a big, black, baggy tee-shirt to hide her body, whilst at the same time looking slightly uncomfortable splashing around in the waves.

But this woman definitely wasn’t British! She was walking around with such confidence and not a hint of being self conscious and with all of her curves spilling out in her tiny bikini, I was taken aback!
Watermelon woman, just helping out with the bins!
From what I have noticed, women with curves seem to be celebrated much more over here than they do in back in England. And when talking about curvy Brazilians, now seems like a good opportunity to introduce you to one unique Brazilian celebrity. She became famous simply because of her natural curves...and the woman I am talking about is Watermelon woman.
I have included a picture of Watermelon woman, so I can leave it to your imagination as to why she has been given this name! I have seen her on a few afternoon TV shows now, and she tends to walk out in her bikini, and her purpose for being there is simply to show her curvy ass off to the viewers! Then when she dances, her large ass shakes, and at this the audience claps and cheers at her ass. Sometimes Watermelon woman may even bend down to pick something up (without bending her knees of course!); which gets the same response from the audience!

I still find it difficult to believe this is an actual person....but you can give us Watermelon woman over skinny Victoria Beckham any day!