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Gay Carnaval in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

by Vincent van der Kraan in Nightlife & Reports , 18 mei 2003


Brazil has three major annual carnivals. In Rio de Janeiro, in Salvador de Bahia and in Recife. Not Rio, but Salvador de Bahia is the biggest in the world. The Rio carnival is for tourists, the Salvador one for the Brazilians, who flock to the city in droves of some three millions.
It has the best music and is a kind of circuit carnival, meandering over the big squares and avenues to three places in the city. Rio has the costumes, Recife has the enormously high puppets and the carnival here happens only in one spot.


Gay Carnaval



The gay community is an important part of the Salvador carnival. Over half the singers are gay. At the street where Gay Disco Off-Club is located all the singers, gay or not, make a special stop for a tribute to the dikes and gays assembled there. The mass shouts and jumps up and down.

Three gay Blocos also join the parade, belonging to singers Magareth Menezes, Sandra de Sá and Netinho. A Bloco is a cord, carried in an ellipse of a kilometer long, by some 1000 mostly black people, in which some 5000 mostly white people walk together wearing the same T-shirt with Bloco logo. All those who can afford it (read white) belong to a Salvador Bloco.



Of all the 60 Blocos only two are black. In the middle of a Bloco a Trio Electrícos, a kind of hotel on wheels with on top a stage complete with singer and orchestra, rides along. In it are showers, bedrooms, a bar for some fifty people, dressing rooms, sound studios and on all sides the biggest loudspeakers you’ve ever seen.

The thousands op people lined up start shouting and jumping up and down, when a Bloco with Trio Electrícos is passing by. From the window on the sixth floor of the house I stayed in in the gay street of Salvador, the Rua Carlos Gomes, I had a grand view of the Bloco of gay singer Netinho.

Straights go Gay



Carnival is for fools. An opportunity to really go crazy. For centuries it has been an effective social means to let off steam of the daily grind. If there’s one city in the world allowing repressed gay sentiments to surface for a few days, it’s Salvador. Thousands of straight blokes dress up in frocks in two Blocos.

One is called As Muquiranas, meaning the Ugly Women, the other As Sapatonas, the Lesbians. The most beautiful men behave like flirting queens, shaking their ass and winking at everyone.



Dozens of times they grabbed me in the balls. A number of times they poked a dildo or banana up my ass. And I was showered with kisses when I photographed them for, what was clearly printed on my press card, Gay News.



Clovis Bornay



At the parades, Salvador is not a dress up carnival. For the sumptuous costumes you have to be in Rio. But this year a remarkable exhibition took place of Clovis Bornay, the most famous carnival costume designer in the world. We had a talk with him at his exhibition Clovis Bornay, a living carnival legend. In 1928, when he was 21, Clovis, now 95, finished his first major carnival costume assignment for the Fluminese football club, with which he immediately won first prize in Rio de Janeiro.



Till 1980, for 52 years, he made the most extravagant carnival designs, which made him world famous. In 1964 he was named honorary citizen by the Governor of Louisiana. He had exhibitions in Paris, Tokyo and London, designed costumes for the Lido in Paris and for the big theatre shows in Rio. A friendly man who insisted I’d be photographed with him.

Gay Fantasy Costume



In front of the Salvador city hall, the Fourth National Election took place of the Gay Fantasy Costume of the Brazilian state Bahia. The Groupo Gay da Bahia, celebrating its 23th anniversary this year, organized the elections in cooperation with TV Bahia and a community of the Salvador capital. The community builds a huge stage with a long catwalk on the square in front of the town hall, where some 10.000 gays and straights follow the proceedings together.



What the parades lack is compensated by these annual elections. Never before have I seen such gigantic, extravagant, splendid, breathtaking, theatrical carnival costumes as the ones presented here. A total of 28 costumes, in which an ostrich feather more or less didn’t count, strutted the catwalk. To pass judgement in such a competition is an impossible task, since each costume more than deserves an award. The winner was Tuth-Anch-Amon with a costume which, consisting of mainly ostrich feathers, weighed no less than 180 kilos.



After six days of uninterrupted Gay Carnival in the gay quarter Barra, you don’t want to hear any more music or see one more queen. All you long for is a long repose in a silence center for seniors in the middle of nowhere. As long as things move slowly and god forbid make no noise!



 






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In the New Issue of Gay News, 314, October 2017

















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