Friday, February 11, 2005

Location: Rio, Brazil...

Well kiddos, Carnaval 2005 is over and i'm beat. I flew out for the festivites on the 3rd and just got back to San Antonio in time to give a full report for those interested. The pic above is from the Carnaval parade itself (held in the Sambadrome). While i may look a little drunk, i was simply high on the amazing atmosphere and UNBELIEVABLE floats. Before heading down, i thought this would simply be a more intricate version of New Orleans' Mardi Gras...

I was really, really wrong. Carnaval makes Mardi Gras look like a frathouse garage sale. The Brazillians take their partying seriously and this was no joke indeed. It was an entire town consumed with a spirit of fun, friendliness and total warmth. Rio might be described as dangerous to Americans, but while i was down there i saw nothing but smiling faces, friendly attitudes and a real total acceptance of everyone & every culture present. For just that week, Rio turned into a massive melting pot of people from all around the world: Aussies, Brits, Americans, Far East, Far South, Far-Far-Away... you name it. They were there. To sum it all up, everyone seemed to get along for such a huge gathering. It was very cool.

So, i head out to the SA airport on Thursday morning and get a frantic call from the guy i'm traveling with, telling me i may be going alone as his passport had expired. AHHH! Not cool. I decided to take my chances, meet him in Miami and then go from there. If worse came to worse i could always hang with him in Miami for awhile. I sure as hell wasn't going to go down to Rio by myself. Luckily, the following AM he was granted a fast-as-lightening Visa from the consulate in Miami and we were off. Plane ride over was super smooth. Our routing was a bit of an adventure and took us from DFW-MIA-GRU-GIG. When we hit the ground in Sao Paulo, we headed for higher ground and took refuge in American's Admirals Club. I walked into the place, snagged a Guarana (my favorite Brazillian export) and sat down. After some reading, i noticed something strange about the woman sitting across from us.

... She looked familiar i thought. But who was she?

After a family came up to her asking for an autograph, i figured it out: Giselle. The supermodel and Victoria's Secret pin-up and one of Brazil's most famous celeb-exports to make it in the USA. She was absolutely beautiful, very friendly and gracious about signing something for the people coming up to her. I snapped this shot of her, and although grainy, she's still one of the most georgeous women i've ever seen.

If you notice to her left, she's got a assistant traveling with her. I found it funny that when we all headed out to Rio (she was also on our flight), she stuck her PA back in business class while she relaxed in first. LOL. Hey, even a supermodel has to watch her dimes, right? ;)

We're finally in RIO! WHOOHOO! Carlo (a super nice guy and owner of a very well-respected travel agency in Rio) meets us personally at the airport and transfers us to the hotel (Rio Royal) to get settled and all that jazz. Thankfully, there's a high-speed net connection and the room rocks. It's got a snazzy bathroom with dry sauna and whirlpool tub. The AC is blasting cold air and the weather in Rio is perfect: 90 degrees and sunny. Damn, i love the summertime. A quick snapshot from the window of the Royal for ya:

I unpack and email a friend of mine (Oz) who's also in town to see where he is. I'm super glad that Oz is as anal-retentive about doing his email as i am, so he shoots back an email pronto and we all make plans to meet up ASAP. Looks like it's going to be a wild night at LeBoy.

What is LeBoy? It's Rio's gay place to dance yer arse off. It's warehouse-style, loud, sexy and barely dressed. I wouldn't call it overly classy or tactful. More like in-your-face. That's what makes it so much fun. It's without pretention. I've always had a good time there.

Before LeBoy, we took a glance at the ever-famous Corujinas to snack on a plate of fries and eye-snack on any possible boy candy *evil grin*... Corujinas is basically a sidewalk cafe, but it's known to all the locals as a place to pick up an off-work saunaboy or two (or three if you fancy) and is very, VERY gay friendly. You'll see a mix of people here and the Capoeira shows on the street in front are fantastic. Capoeira is a mix of dance, Brazillian martial arts and tumbling. It's fascinating to watch. Added, the guys usually are shirtless while doing it and have drop-dead-amazing bodies. Just add a bottle of Johnson's baby oil and we'd have a real business on our hands...

So we head out to LeBoy later that night and meet up with Oz and his entourage. We spot him coming into the club, hug and he introduces me to his very sexy 'boy-in-tow.' WOW. He was a compact little guy, tight & toned, with an electric smile and great personality. Here's a pic:

While he didn't speak much english (and i didn't speak any portugese), we were able to find fluent ground in spanish. It served us well, as i was also able to let the other 'english-only's' in the group know what he was saying. So anyway, this kid was an incredible dancer and we had a ball all grooving together that night. Before we knew it it was 4am, i was crazy tired and we headed home for some sleep... among other activites. *grin*

I slept forever. Woke up, got a shower and went out to Copacabana Beach for some grub at Maxims. I love Maxims and i discovered this place last time i was in Rio. Great spaghetti. They always have Guarana Light on hand and the service rocks. Plus, you get the people-watching aspect on Copacabana. Very shagadelic. Here's me at Maxim's a few days ago:

I'm smiling because i just ate some kickass spaghetti... Yum.

After lunch, we took a walk, worked out and spent some time at the pool. This is what the beach looked like that day. I couldn't have asked for better weather:

That night we made plans with Oz and his guy for dinner, had a little ATM scavenger hunt around the city and then ended up back on Copacabana for food. After dinner, we chilled out in our room at the Rio and made plans to hit LeBoy. My mate wasn't feeling up to clubbing, so he decided to stay put and rest up, while telling me to get out there and enjoy Rio. I headed out with Oz and Co to the club, dressed like a cheap whore and loving it. I went with a very 'blue' look. Blue cap, armband and teeny-tiny runner's shorts (with shoes). That was it. I was going to attract attention... or die trying. lol. This night was shaping up to be one to remember indeed.

We head over to LeBoy around 2am and the place is PACKED. While we're sitting there gulping down RedBull, a familiar voice booms over the speakers. It's Kevin Aviance and he just hit the stage, performing live for the crowd. WHOOHOO! The show was what i would consider performance art, with most of the Brazillian crowd not really 'getting' his act. He spoke mainly in english, was quite demanding of the crowd and didn't get much response from the Portugese-speaking audience. I think they thought he was a bit of a freak-show to be honest. Personally, i enjoyed his theatrics and eventually he won the crowd over. I suppose some things are universal in this world and Aviance's flair definitely did the trick.

By now it's about 4am, the crowd has gotten bigger and everyone's stripped down to just about nothing. It's hot and i'm sweating like Delta Burke at a grand-opening of a Krispy Kreme. There's been definite sexual tension between Oz's friend and me all night. We eventually hop up on one of the go-go boxes together and grind away to a fun remix of 'Let The Sunshine In.' This goes on for awhile, as does some serious tonsil-hockey. It was a bit strange actually. Not because we were on-stage in front of the whole club, but because he was so short (5'5") and i was so tall (6'3"): I had to practically get on my knees to kiss him. Anyway, it was hot and the vibe was good. As Oz said.. 'The most beautiful American boy in Rio and the most georgeous Brazillian boy in Rio were having a blast.' How correct he was.

Got back to the hotel at 7am. It was getting light outside. Argh. I shut my eyes and passed out. Got up later that day and, of course, hit Maxim's for lunch. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, as that night would be the big parade at the Sambadrome... a party that went from 9pm all the way to 5-6am. 8 troupes, an hour and a half a piece to perform and one helluva competition. We took the subway down to the event. Seeing people riding the subway to the parade decked out in their full-Carnaval attire was awesome. I snapped this pic with my phone of a family on their way to march in the event:

Actually finding the entrance to event was tough, as things were not well marked. After about an hour of walking around, we hit the right direction and got through security and into the parade.

This is the pass for Carnaval 2005 that was scanned at the door. Very high-tech and a great way to keep track of people going in and out. The Sambadrome itself was built specifically for Carnaval. It's not much of a stadium, as much as it's a long (1.5 mile) strip of speedway, lined with concrete risers and boxes on the side. It's lit with intelligent lighting and had surround speakers throughout the whole strip. It's really a well-done venue and for as big as it was, seemed somewhat intimate when watching the parade. You always felt close to the action.

And now for some images of Carnaval 2005. I was completely blown away...

If this pics are this jaw-dropping, imagine actually being there. It was incredible. The costumes, the energy, the crowds, the music. It was beautiful. A living, breathing work of art. Carnaval is nothing like it's sister in New Orleans, which only seems to be a celebration of public intoxication and dangling tits. Carnaval was done with style, pride and real pinasche. It was a real indication of the pride and exhiliration the Brazillians take in their culture.

We ended up pooping out after the 4th troop took to the stage at around 3am. It had been a long night, but the floats were progressively getting more intricate and the crowd was getting more energized. The floats themselves were works of art. I saw swimming pools, actual rainshowers, intelligent lighting, fire, wind machines, fog and other effects actually ON some floats. Millions of dollars must have been spent on the design and creation of these masterpieces and it showed. This small snapshot of a float with a Leonardo Da Vinci theme was particularily interesting to me, as they took his 'Mona Lisa' and re-did it in several different styles:

We had to head back to the states the following day, but i did get a chance to take a shot of 'Bob's,' which seems to be the rip-off, cookie-cutter equivalent of McDonalds. They even swipe McD's color scheme and menu. It's hilarious. Have a looksie:

What about Bob?

I will say that Bob's has one awesome tasting burger though. I had one at the parade and it tasted EONS better than the crap they've been serving at McD's. If any of you are Rio-bound, i can safely say that a quick bite at Bob's is always the way to go. I wouldn't be surprised if you happen to see their cracked out-looking mascot that somewhat resembles a Ronald McDonald, but after years of drug abuse. Kind of like seeing Robert Downey Jr. dressed up like a clown...

So we head out of Rio and are back in the Sao Paulo Admiral's Club. Lightining strikes twice and suddenly the club seems like some sort of supermodel-magnet, with Naomi Campbell sitting there as we walk in, talking away on her cell and looking feverishly around to make sure everyone is noticing her. I tried to snap a pic of her, but she cleverly turned around and sat in a chair facing AWAY from me as i opened my phone. DAMN! Here's a pic of her heavily damaged hair in desperate need of some conditioner:

Can we say VO5 Hotoil?

Why does Benjamin sound so caustic when talking about this beloved (ack!) supermodel? Well, i witnessed Naomi practically torturing the staff at the club, demanding they bring her McDonalds (What... No Bob's in the terminal? What gives?) and crate her skinny-ass around in a wheelchair. So they bring her an ENTIRE BAG of McD's french fries, to which she pulls out her own seasoning out of her handbag and proceedes to season the shit out of them. She munched away while talking on her cell. People in the club were beginning to notice who she was and all eyes seemed to be on her. A fellow traveler just coming into the club sat a chair away from her, obviously not knowing (or caring) who she was. Campbell loooked at him with sliced eyes and dramatically turned away from him. Soon after, the man started coughing and hacking in her direction. This is when Naomi went skhitzo. She freaked out, went very Howard Hughes with her sudden germ-a-phobia and covered her face with a tissue, looking like some Iraqi woman-gone-chic-with-a-burka. I could only laugh. This was hilarious.

She finally got up to catwalk her boney-ass to a flight to NYC for Fashion Week, much to the delight of fellow Admirals Club guests. Ding-dong... The witch is dead.

The flight back to the states was rough: I got food poisioning from breakfast on the way back. MERD! It hit me just as we were landing in Miami. I still had to fly to Dallas and then SA, so the day wasn't over for me just yet. I spent the whole flight to DFW throwing up in the lavatory. Let me tell you how much that'll humble you. Sitting on the floor of a bathroom 30k feet in the air, puking your guts out and hoping somehow that the rest of first class can't hear you heaving like some sort of water buffalo giving birth over an intercom system. Luckily, i don't have a snapshot of this and the flight attendants were SUPER great in taking care of me. Thanks AA! You guys just scored big points with this Continental Airlines frequent flyer.

Got home. Worshipped the porcelin god a few more times and crawled into bed. Slept 16 hours and woke up this morning feeling like a million dollars. Thankfully so, as i leave for Vegas tomorrow for 11 days and hoped i wouldn't have to delay my trip. I'd like to also thank the little people who helped me feel so much better: Imodium-AD, Claritin-D and Tylenol 12-hour. I couldn't have done it without you guys. *single tear drops*

You like me... You really like me!

Rio Factoids:

* Guarana Light is the best drink ever created. If you can find it in the USA, email me NOW!

* Carnaval tickets were horribly priced, but worth every penny. They start at US$250 a pop. Ouch!

* If you're a sauna lover, i've been told that the best one right now is 117. Point 202 is no longer the hotspot for sauna-action. Look elsewhere.

* H. Stern jewlers seem to own the city. Beware of their 'factory tours.' It's simply a nice name for what we Americans call a 'timeshare pitch.' Very frightening with no free gift at the end.

* Forget the cabs. Be adventurous and take the subway. It's fun and inexpensive... you cheap bastard :)

* The Copacabana Palace Hotel needs rennovation. It's still a 'name' hotel, but overpriced and not worth it. Just go for their sunday buffet and you'll be in-the-know.

* Don't be a stingy tipper. Brazillian's work their arses off for tourists. Tip accordingly... and that includes saunaboys and other sexworkers.

* Use your safe in the hotel. When in Rome...

All-in-all, Rio ROCKED the house down. I hope to visit Carnaval again someday, but for now i'm still in recovery and out-of-breath. Now it's off to Sin City for awhile to get my wits about me and snap a few photos in a scheduled photoshoot. I think i'm also catching O again at Bellagio and BlueMan Group at Luxor (before it moves to the Venetian in the summertime). Two awesome shows that are (IMO) the tip-top of Vegas entertainment.

So, you've stayed through my regailings of Carnaval & Rio... Now it's time for this week's EYE CANDY, courtesy of my Key West connection who makes one helluva cup of coffee. Enjoy!

A rather nice, if not overly-clothed, selection of man-candy this week if i do say so myself. Always nice to have a spot of muscle in the blog and here's always on the lookout for more. Email me if you've got a fave to add to the mix. I'm listening.

As for the WHACKOFF OF THE WEEK, i'm honestly out of freebie websites to suggest and am asking my readers to pitch-in and let me know what yer jerkin' to! Shoot (ahem!) me an email and throw out some hot sites for me to feature in the near future... Consider it a good deed done for all of man (and woman) kind. For those just hankering for a site to click, why not check out a favorite of mine and one that's constantly being updated with FREE new pics:

Thanks to the emailer who wrote in as 'Cher' regarding last week's posting about her concert in SLC: 15 Minutes is glad you enjoyed the mention, but no, we won't find you a young, hot thing to play with while offstage. If you're looking for trade, why not try

I'm beat and it's time to skeedaddle~ I've got an early flight out tomorrow. If anyone happens to be in Sin City this week, feel free to shoot me an email and say hey. Most of this trip is downtime, but i'll be social most of the week at Gypsy and on the strip. If you see a rather tall guy with a mild mohawk, you'll know it me. Don't just stare. Say hi! :)

I don't bite. Much.

Happy trails to you... Until we meet again.... Adios buckaroos


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