GAY RIO! Me-O-My-O-Meo!

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

My first visit to Rio was some-time ago and my last trip reinforced my theory that in much older cultures like Brazil, and certainly Rio, ideas and traditions don’t change as quickly as they do in the "rapid-fire" US of A. Rio has not changed much over the years and unlikely to do so any time soon. They know what works for them and go with it. Rio de Janiero was discovered by the Portuguese explorers centuries ago and Brazil’s national language remains Portuguese. One of my favorite characters of all time, Carman Miranda, "The Brazilian Bombshell" of the Glamorous Hollywood Musicals of the 40’s was actually from Lisbon, Portugal. (Another great destination) She has her own little museum in Rio and there are many costumes from her movies and famous tutti-frutti hats! I loved it! Nobody was like Carman Miranda! She was very unique. Rio is also VERY unique! Abso-fucking-lutely!

One major positive change that I did find during my last visit was that I believe that Rio is safer for tourists than years ago and on the whole just a bit more civilized. That is a good thing even though I didn’t mind it the other way. The World Cup scheduled soon is proof of that! It just should be pointed out that in Rio; laws/rules/regulations are somewhat … relaxed and one should not find himself wondering about drunk or doing anything that gets him slapped in jail. In a "Wild and Crazy" town like Rio, that would not be easy! (humor stab)

I don’t think it is possible to prepare for your first glimpse at Rio de Janeiro. Like Venice, no other city looks quite like her from a distance. Like when Dorothy and her chums see glittering Oz for the first time, Rio is like a precious gem and its "setting" is what really sets it apart from the others. Immediately upon approach, something very special happens as you near her! (Rio is feminine to me) I had been to almost every island in the Caribbean in winter and was accustomed to stepping off a flight that changed from snow into warm summer-sun. As I was driven into the city and along Copacabana, I was mesmerized first by the intricate tile sidewalks (which change their designs from beach to beach) the huge breaking waves, elegant hotels and the awesome Sugarloaf Mountain standing tall and imposing in the background. Behind the line-up of grand hotels is a city! Turn your head and on the sand were the magnificent looking dark haired and toffee colored men, glistened in tiny swimwear. They jogged, lay in the sun, swam and exercised on the beach! Chin-up bars and volley ball nets are everywhere! All mostly smooth and built like Brazilian Gods! In Rio the boys make "no-bones" about the fact that physical beauty is admired and sought after. Sexual prowess is important and crafted. The woman are awesome and everyone seems to be tall … Very Tall, slim, hair very neat and you just can’t take your eyes off them. The beaches are chock-a-block full of "Carioca’s" as people native to Rio are known. It is a Portuguese adjective and in any language I find the Carioca’s very impressive but, perhaps that’s just me! There is a very famous song, "The Girl from Ipanema" that really hits the mark. Check it out on U-Tube. I love the Astrid Gilberto rendition. Very early 60’s! Truth be told, I was on Copacabana Beach one day and saw a very young woman in her "Tonga" which really consists of three triangles and some string, actually dental floss is more like it. One for each nipple and the third for the Brazilian waxed snatch. Men generally wear the regulation Speedo. She absolutely looked like an angel with light blonde hair, perfection of form and a smile you would never forget. Before long a very old gentleman walked up and gave her a tongue swap that let me know (along with the hand on her boob) that he was not her grandfather! That’s RIO!

While there are nude beaches in Rio, they seem to prefer just a bit of fabric that actually accentuate more than cover. Decals are a big thing too. I sometimes wondered, if you wore a decal on your dick or vagina were you really naked? The question never plagued me but I loved the creativity and ingenuity involved.

I checked into my hotel, "The Rio Palace" which is now the Rio Sofitel and its position where Copa Cabana and Ipanema Beaches meet is shear perfection! The view from the terrace restaurant overlooking both beaches with Sugarloaf and various islands on the sea’s horizon is unforgettable! You sense why the Samba and Bossa Nova come so naturally to such a place. In a very real sense Rio is all about sensuality, sexuality, sexual beauty and very long, hot, sweaty, fucking!

One of the first things you learn when you visit Rio is that pretty much everyone drinks a lethal concoction called a "Caipirnha" (Ki-pa-reen-ya). I think they double as cocktails and "date-rape" aids. A simple mixture of muddled lime, sugar and liquor called Cachaca (Ka-sha-sha) (made from sugar cane) and lots of chipped ice. Totally KILLER! In my experience, after morning espressos (lots) were over we moved into Caipirnhas as quickly as possible. Probably by the third I could even pronounce it properly rolling R’s like a native. There is an old expression "drunk on your ass" and I did experience this in Rio after too many Caipirnhas and I have never regretted it. I don’t believe that in America or any other city in the world that I can think of has a signature drink like this. Everyone drinks them, they are not hard to make and served in anything from an elegant crystal Old Fashioned glass to a paper/plastic cup. Their flavor is distinctive, sweet/sour/strong. Just kick-ass really!

Second lesson: This city is absolutely RUN on sensuality! It can be sexual, athletic, lying on the beach or walking on the intricately tiled streets. Even business seems to have sexy overtones with it. Of course, maybe that’s just me! Walking along Ipanema or Copa Cabana Beach, you just can’t start to get into the sultry rhythm of the city, the beaches and people! Music is everywhere! Recorded, live, on the streets or spilling onto the sidewalk from the clubs. Your stomach muscles are suddenly tighter and your butt a tad uplifted. And "When you pass, each boy you pass goes Ahhh"! That is not to say that everyone is a Latin A&F Model. I saw plenty of older women with rolls of fat strolling the beach in bra and panties as well as older gentlemen looking like they had lunch for five in their trunks. Whatever the "package" the people walked with their heads high, asses swaying and an air of "am I hot or what"? And they were!

Third lesson: Rio de Janeiro is primarily a "beach town" and unless you are visiting on business your stay will center around Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon Beaches with the Gay emphasis on Ipanema as the section of beach at the Rua Farme de Amoedo. It is almost dead center of the blocks long beach. Copacabana is on your left, Leblon (which is the wealthiest) your right. To be honest, depending on what you are looking for there is not much difference between the "gay" section or any other part of either beach but officially there is a gay section complete with rainbow flags and it is very popular The entire Farme de Amoedo (street) is very much the center of the "Official Gay Action" of Rio. By this I mean, what is (somewhat) legal or at least something you would not be too ashamed to admit to. The beach, the bars, the saunas and "motels" will all be there or close. In Brazil a "motel" rents by the hour and is for only one purpose.

Fourth Lesson: Rio de Janeiro "Ain’t Kansas, Toto" and since The Brazilian Tourist Authority is not paying me anything, I can tell you that in spite of my highest regard and high praise, Rio is not for everyone. For the most part Rio is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, sensual beach towns in existence. At the same time there is a very serious undertone of danger and unspeakable activity. Anything is for sale and can be purchased in Rio de Janeiro. (Use your imagination) There is a market (mostly a black one … And I don’t mean racially) for everything from sex, drugs, jewelry, currency and much more. As a single man on my first visit to the beach I was appalled by the number of very young girls and boys that were very plainly available to me for whatever I might be in the mood for. Should you visit Rio, good jewelry and anything you are not prepared to lose should stay home. You certainly would not have any trouble if you stuck to the lighted, popular and crowded tourist areas (save for pick-pockets) but walking alone, off the beaten track is looking for trouble.

OK enough of the creepy stuff, but it honestly had to be mentioned. Being somewhat fatalist, I don’t worry about things like that.

Fifth Lesson: As a perfect beach town, Rio is almost the ultimate place of worship for the body/soul and all of its uses. Rio is about the beauty of the human form as well as spirituality and a very different way of thinking than the average American can even imagine. Don’t try to dissect it, go with it, enjoy it but always remember that someone from Brazil is probably going to be very different than you so as always proceed cautiously. I am not suggesting human sacrifice and such but I know that many "religions" (Umbanda, Candomble and the Macumba) unfamiliar to we Americans. That would be similar to Voo Doo and witchcraft exist in Brazil. Just be aware and on guard. Should you see some naked people on the beach at night lighting candles, don’t ask to join the "party". Steer Clear

Sixth Lesson: Rio’s sexuality can be "hard-core". On my first trip, I was invited to one of their famous (or infamous) "sex-clubs". Bolstered by my "friends" The Caipirnhas, my Carioca buddy Juan and I found ourselves in a "supper-club" show lounge. You were served a bottle (in our case, Vodka) and a paper strip pasted on the side of the bottle told our (female) waiter the amount we had drunk. All waiters male and female were naked aside from some jewelry or piercings. When the curtain opened and I don’t really know what fascinated me more, that which was going on up on the stage, or the audience around me! After a bit of prancing and posing all the Cariocas were stripped down and ready for action. The well built young men were definitely "Growers" as well as "Showers" and after the dancing began and in a short time the stage was writhing with every sort of coupling one could imagine. I admit to giving my own "standing ovation" but as I surveyed the rest of the crowd around me, I noticed quite a lot of X-Rated action there as well. I will stop there as you get the idea and this blog is about Rio and not about me.

Seventh Lesson: Rio is a carnivores dream! (smile) My first visit to a Churrascaria was in Rio and I have been to many since all over the world. The basic concept is a major trip to the salad bar and then hot Latin looking men trying to look like Gauchos appear with sabers of all sorts of meats which they lop off onto your plate until you want to fall on a sword and die! There is one on Chestnut Street just east of Broad. I have never been but they say it is great and a lot of fun.

Eighth Lesson: Be prepared for the unexpected in Rio! The place sometimes makes ordinary men do some crazy things or maybe it was just me. Whatever he magic spell Rio casts, it is a wonderful one. I doubt I will ever hang-glide again nor will I skinny dip (on a dare) in full afternoon sunlight. There are a few other things but I am happy to cringe occasionally when I think of my own behavior! I entertained some people once in Rio and a young fellow actually "fell in love" with a prostitute that he met at a disco. He swore he was going to go back and marry her which naturally was a hoot to most but I thought it was kind of romantic and wished him my best. I always liked the film "Pretty Woman".

Ninth Lesson: Rio is not just about hot sex, but is home to one of the "Wonders of the World". A-top Corcovado mountain is the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Arms outstretched the world’s largest Art Deco statue looks out on Rio and is just AWESOME! To see it at all times of day and night is almost worth the trip right there.

Tenth Lesson: We as Americans are sometimes very naive. I say this about all foreign travel as well. I love America and consider myself very lucky to have been born here. Many people throughout the world were not as lucky. We as Americans import and attitude (through TV Shows/Movies etc) of money, good looks and great confidence and nerve. Additionally, most of our films have a "happy ending" Much of the world is not like this. They can be poor, desperate, jealous, and dangerous. I never take it personally but I do recognize its existence. I don’t presume to understand why things happen but I do stay pragmatic in the fact that they do/can. Never let fear stop you from doing anything but caution is another matter entirely. While it is true that to climb "out on a limb" could be very dangerous it is there that the sweetest fruits are found! In other words, never be afraid of experience but examine all possibilities for optimum enjoyment.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Though Rio de Janiero might not be for everyone, I believe it is one of the most remarkable places I have been and would return again anytime. I have yet to witness Carnival and I understand that on the beaches on New Year’s Eve after a quiet evening of worship, when the clock strikes twelve the clothes fly and anything goes! I did Samba and so forth one night on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain and I cannot remember this without a huge shit-eating grin! Peter Allen was right!

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