Elke Maravilha: a marvellous life

25 08 2016

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Halfway through the Olympics came the news that a Rio icon had passed away. Elke Maravilha was a model and actress, famous for her flamboyance. Blonde and beautiful, she had a huge appetite for life, a magnetic smile and a mile-wide wild streak that had endeared her to generations of Brazilians.

Born Elke Giorgierena Grunnupp Evremides, (you can see why she used a stage name) she had emigrated to Brazil as a child from Leningrad. She came from an academic mixed Russian and German family, and grew up speaking nine European languages before breaking into showbiz as a ditzy blonde appearing on TV talent shows and the catwalk.

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It was her work as a fashion model that led her to form a friendship with Zuzu Angel, the pre-eminent Brazilian fashion designer of the 70s and an unlikely rebel, who used her high profile as a constant thorn in the side of the military dictatorship after her activist son had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the regime. Elke was also arrested, after tearing down “wanted” posters offering a reward for his capture. She was held in an infamous prison and torture centre for five days and eventually stripped of her Brazilian citizenship, forcing her to fall back on her German passport.

Still, her show business career went on, often appearing on the television show of the hugely popular surrealist TV comic Chacrinha. She also landed a part as a brothel madam in a TV series that became her signature role. In addition to her huge gay following she was now crowned the godmother of Rio’s sex workers.

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Elke married eight times, most recently to a man thirty years younger, and lived in a pink mansion in Copacabana near the beach, continuing her wild ways until she passed away aged 71, a shock-blonde rebel to the very end.





Brazil, seventies

25 08 2016

Secos & Molhados, the experimental theatre-rock band that launched Ney Matogrosso, a Brazil-rock icon famous for his flamboyant bisexuality and soaring falsetto.

 





Life is beautiful

21 08 2016

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Olafur Eliasson’s installation at the Versailles palace, Mariko Mori’s Olympic installation in the Mangaratiba forest in Rio de Janeiro, unknown, the Kunsthaus in Bregenz in Austria, the beautiful 1951 Chapelle du Rosair a Vence by Matisse and a Casa Brutus fashion shoot in the concert hall in Tokyo’s Ueno Park.





Cultura de verao

20 07 2016

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With the long, lazy days of Summer I’ve been catching up on my reading and viewing: it has been a Summer of culture! And given that my brief hope of playing Pokemon Go has been quashed by the delay in its Asian release, I have been reading instead. As well as some students’ novels that I had to read for school, my eclectic June/July beach-and-cafe book list has consisted of:

The Quran. I figured it was time to get myself educated! Although its not a comfortable read for a Western liberal (not to mention rambling and repetitive) I was surprised to find room for interpretation that could lead to positive change…amid plenty of ammunition for those who would oppose it. It is a book full of contradictions.

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God by Juliana Barbassa. This book, an investigation of the many problems faced by Rio de Janeiro, is a primer for the upcoming Olympics in my beloved former playground. The city is seemingly reeling from an insurmountable list of problems at the moment, just as it should be taking its bow in the world’s limelight. Will a recession, the virtual coup against Dilma, pollution, rising crime and the zika virus dampen the finest moment for the cidade maravilhosa or will Rio manage, characteristically, to rise above its demons, just as it does every Carnaval, if only for a night or two?

Ways of Going Home, by Alejandra Zambra. Haven’t started yet.

A Dean Koontz thriller the boyfriend picked up for me at the second hand store.

Plus a viewing list of:

Orange is the New Black.

Magnifico 70 – a Brazil HBO miniseries on censorship in 1970s Sao Paulo, kind of Mad Men in Sampa.

And music:

Still Roisin Murphy.

Still Leah Dou.

Plus the new album from Japanese alt-chanteuse UA, titled JaPo (short for “Japonesia”), another album of lush harmonies, lo-fi bleeps, raw jazzy vocals and tribal beats. It doesn’t all work, but when it does, UA stakes a claim as the foremost quirky Japanese nineties-generation diva (sorry, Shiina Ringo and Chara).

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Light trapping

11 07 2016

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Light trapping is a website devoted to the “night expeditions, escapades and chance encounters” of a Sao Paulo gay photographer, combining to spectacular effect his preoccupations with a) naked men b) architecture and c) striking lighting. Its mesmerising.

More images (some NSFW) after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »





….and Russo Passapusso

2 07 2016





Carioca fever dream

25 06 2016