Lost Sambista

A Brazil never seen.

Archive for the tag “prostitution in Rio de Janeiro”

Lost Samba _ Ch10/02_Sexual initiation at the Pink House.


Mangue, by Lasar Segal

When boys of my generation reached puberty, after undergoing the domestic audio-visual introduction, moved on to the age-old Brazilian tradition of being initiated in sex either by a maid or by a professional.  From one moment to another, it seemed that everyone except for me and my immediate circle of friends had already done it. As none of us had hot and available domésticas, the only way out were the pros. Given our budgetary limitations, all fingers pointed in the same direction: the infamous Casa Rosa, or the Pink House.

Many fathers took their sons to the important event or at least they sponsored the excursion. This was certainly not to be my case. With Dad in his mid-1970s, sex was not on the cards and it wasn’t a subject of discussion, not even in passing conversation. As far as he was concerned, licentiousness was the preserve of maids and other promiscuous favelados. I never accepted this, but I couldn’t help but inherit something of the idea that sex was intrinsically dirty and that it should be hidden away from polite society. Nevertheless, I was dying to be initiated and saved up for months, scraping together whatever I could for the big day.

Finally we thought that the day had arrived. One Saturday afternoon, my friends and I arranged to meet after lunch, but at the very last moment our trusted guide chickened out. Not only were we all pissed off, but so too was his dad. A few weeks later, we set off alone to the Casa Rosa.  We did not know how to get there but when the taxi driver heard “Rua Alice”, he knew exactly the purpose of our excursion.  On our way, we discussed whether we should lie and say we were seventeen instead of telling our true age: fourteen. Some of us thought this would bring more respect and would keep us from being thrown out. I was in favour of telling the truth because the lie would make us look even more retarded.

The Casa Rosa was big and seemed to have a faded grandeur. As we approached the house, we noticed a police car parked immediately outside, causing one of the guys want to give up. As we got out of the taxi and entered the building, several policemen were on their way out and greeted us with a reassuring smile. Inside, we sat around a wooden table by the improvised dance floor and waited, the silence only broken by the afternoon samba show coming out of the black and white television under the staircase.  Next to the flickering set, there was a counter with two price lists: one for the drinks and another one for the “programs”.

One-by-one, the girls came down for their matinée session.  They looked nowhere close to the unobtainable beauties who watered mouths on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana but at least they were younger and better looking than our maids. The madam pointed to us and said:

”It’s time for the children to have milk.”

They selected us, not the other way around, and took us to their rooms.  When the action was about to begin, one of the guys knocked his knee against the bed, and from his reaction, we knew it had hurt: we could hear Mauricio jumping around in pain through the thin wooden walls. Meanwhile, the rest of us slipped into a silent and nervous mood without knowing what to do.

My girl was prettier, whiter, thinner and younger than the others. As she took off her clothes and lay next to me, I remembered the porn films.  She talked to me and calmed me down, and I began to explore her body. Her naked flesh felt warm, tender and good. The act was as quick as it was disappointing, but I could at least count it as my initiation as a Latin Lover.  I was not the first one to appear downstairs, which was a relief. After everyone had paid, we went down the hill making fun of Mauricio’s sore knee and his wounded pride.

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The Pink House


Adventures in the Favela – Part 02 – Tania became a prostitute.

Rosa was from Florianopolis in the south of Brazil, a city known for good waves and for beautiful women. Marquinhos lived there and only came to visit us on weekend. When I met her she had just arrived in Rio with a friend, Tania. To be honest the night we met at a party of the Green party, I had fancied Tania’s wild looks. She had curly hair a small backside but breasts way bigger than the Brazilian average. Rosa was prettier but quieter and less sexual. However, she was more receptive that night and after a short courtship we fell deeper for each other and ended up living together.

I soon discovered that Tania was in fact too sexual. Every week she told us about a new guy: a waiter, a tourist, a surfer, a rich guy, a poor guy, a guy from another state; she was very democratic. The two girls continued to be friends and I got to know their story. They knew each other from Florianopolis and had come to Rio for the same job, subscription salesgirls for a left wing magazine. Tania didn’t last a month in the job and was fired after having a huge argument with a boss who tried to have sex with her. Now, jobless, without any money to pay her rent, with drug habits, with a great sexual appetite and knowing no one except Rosa in town, she ended up in the oldest profession in the world; prostitution.

With money coming in, she lived in several places, but everywhere she landed, she managed to argue with someone, be hated by everyone and being kicked out of the house. She would come to us when she was in a crisis, after so many bad experiences we ended up having pity on her and allowing her to rent a spare room.  In the beginning it was pretty cool, the friends she started brining to visit us in the Favela flat were actually interesting. One day she appeared with two legitimate Italian mafiosi, a scrawny pale guy wearing a heavy ring and the other one was a huge guy with a beard, together they resembled a duo that had starred a series of western comedy films called Trinity, with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. The Italians were cool and had plenty of money, they took us out for many times dinner and were very generous with their never ending supply of cocaine. Another time she turned up with a South African yacht man who was touring the world and who was happy to find someone who spoke English when he met me. To my disbelief, he ended up confessing to me in tears that he had fallen in love with Tania, who perhaps because of this had a deep disrespected for the poor fellow and kept loathing him in Portuguese. Then there was Pierre Alain, a Swiss guy on a sexual safari through Latin America who ended up becoming her boy friend and a personal friend of mine to this very day.

Because I was her best friend’s boyfriend nothing ever happened between us and I became a kind of paternal confidant who gave her a lot of advice. Our friendship made me take her to work every evening. Her “point” was in a night club next to Lido square on avenida Atlantica, Copacabana’s beach promenade. This was the the place with the best girls on the entire strip. I would leave here there and watch girls of all sizes colors and ages swarm over rich and strange lookimng tourists from all over the world. As a gesture of gratitude, she not only paid the rent and for the gas, but she also constantly supplied us with generous small plastic bags filled with white power.

On her spare time, Tania had a talent for reading tarot cards and was into Umbanda the Afro-Brazilian religion. She sometimes gave us reading sessions “incorporating” a demonic spirit called “pomba gira” – turn-around dove -; and sometimes she guessed some pretty amazing things. When she was not doing her sessions and got drunk, the “pomba gira” business got heavy and stopping her was a problem. Things got worse when she started calling her work colleagues for card sessions and partying after work at dawn. I began to get pissed off with the whole thing because, despite living on the border of the Favela I had a job and had to get up early to give English classes.

On one occasion, she was going to travel that same morning with a suitcase I had lent her. She arrived with some friends at four in the morning and started doing her Umbanda stuff. That woke me up on the wrong foot. I got very angry and I went in to the living room to tell her to cut it out because I had to work in a few hours time. The “entity” didn’t like that and started swearing at me, at one point she started calling me a dirty Jew, and that was it, I got my suitcase back and told her not to come back after her trip.

It took a long time for me to hear about Tania again, a few years later someone told me that she was working in the sex business in Switzerland and was buying a house for her mother in Florianopolis. The old woman thought that she had found a great job as a secretary there.

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