Brazil: A Bunda Doente - Saddle Sores in Brazil
March 18: Just landed in São Paulo after about 12 hours of travelling. The lines to get through immigration are a good reminder of the impact that underplanning 30 years ago can have on today's world.
March 25: As I sit here at a table inside Via Funchal, a performance center right next to the flat where I'm staying, I'm tempted to summarize the last week with a phrase I've used since High school: Alone and surrounded by people. Not that my hosts haven't done their best to provide entertainment-- between 14 hour days and late dinners comprised of Bahian specialties like shrimp moqueca, it's not like I haven't been busy. Thing is, the moments when I haven't been busy bring about that feeling that I'm beginning to abhor.
It's as if I've spent all year tryiag to convince myself that I really dig being alone more than I do. I think it may be simply because back home I've been spending too much involuntary alone time. Between friends who've left town, friends who are busy with their SOs, and friends who I've been bad about keeping in touch with (because I can't get a hold of them, because I have been out of town too much, because I haven't been up to doinq "straight" things, because I haven't been up to doing "gay" things, because I've had little initiative to create my own plans, because I've had little response to the plans I have created, because I've been an ingrate), it's made for some lonely Friday and Saturday nights.
Which is, I guess, why being in SÃ£o Paulo, alone and surrounded by people, has been so tough. At least in Taiwan I could attribute isolation to language and culture. Here, it's so much more about that damned thing called initiative and it's homely cousin extroversion.
Yeah, I've managed to find a jeito--a way--to get myself out to the streets. But Nightlife is Nightlife anywhere in the world. It involves either places where couples go to be couples, where people go to make couples, or where they go to drink alone while they complain about their couple, complain about theim singlehood, or celebrate their freedom from relationships. Both the straight and gay versions of this game hold little appeal; the straight version involves dodging Brazilian business associates' attempts at setting me up with some "hot blonde Brazilian beauty"--makes you long for good ole 'Merican discomfort of discussing sex in the workplace.
The gay version, well, it ain't all that much better. Brazilian men are just simply adorably gorgeous (the kind you just wanna serve up in JellO&tm; and eat for dessert). One would imagine, therefore, that the pickings in a lusoamerican Fagotia would be as abundant and tasty as the offerings of tropical-fruit at a small-town marketplace. However, the compliance of the visible fag world to the decrees of the International Ministry of Gay Monoculture makes even the most gorgeous Paulistano Poofter seem like a caricature of a hot Latin Lover on Will & Grace. The use of "bar tipo Americano" in a gay rag and "alface Americano" ('Merican lettuce) in the menu of a popular gay restaurant (whose main ornament is a giant satin AIDS ribbon) make me hope that at some point Latin and Luso-American fags realize that some of the first expressions of Artistic Faggotry in this hemisphere were in Portuguese (such as O bom crioulo) and Spanish. Not to say I have Brasilian faggotry figured out--I imagine that, as is the case in other cities, there are places that go beyond A&F escapism.
So, 'tis been a somewhat lonely week. I mustered the social wherewithal to head out to at least ogle Brazilian men at some bars. Of course, as previous paragraphs indicate, that wasn't altogether a successful endeavor. Saturday I had sushi for lunch, at a place called Nakombi (because they make the stuff inside an old VW Kombi bus), it rained a lot, and that evening I went to see Before night falls. I think I got a kick out of Reynaldo Arenas' categorizations of fags. I also enjoyed another one of those polyglot moments when the movie, which was mostly in english about a Cuban author, switched to french during an appropriate moment of the story, all the time everything translated into portuguese subtitles.
Which brings me back to Via Funchal. The conceat hall next to the hotel was hosting Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento. I bought a ticket 'cause, well, the chance to see them live migt nevem present itself aqain. Two hours ofc their awesome music cured me of any saudade that I could have been hosting for my buckwheat pillow and my iBook. After seeing beautiful Brazilians listening to Beautiful Brazilians and just break out of their seats to dance because the music was so beautiful, I realized that this is the exact reason why everyone loves Brazilians.
The loneliness of business travel will not get in the way of returning to this land of beautiful people.