Did you know that Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, in both size and population? Personally I wish everyone knew a lot more about Brazil, a nation whose rich culture and fascinating history should command more of the world’s attention. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Brazil several times and meet Brazilian naturist leaders. This month – January 2022 – there have been some developments to report on related to two very important figures in Brazilian naturism, past and present: Luz del Fuego, and Jorge Bandeira (photo above).
Brazil has a stable and growing system of naturist parks, clubs and resorts through the Federação Brasileira de Naturismo, and it also has a national naturist pioneer: the mid-twentieth-century performance artist, author and politician Luz del Fuego. Much has been written about her already, including by my good friend and naturist superstar Jorge Bandeira (my translation here), but there has been a surge of recent interest in her thanks to a new edition of a biography that came out in 2019. A long-lost documentary about Luz del Fuego, A Nativa Solitária, that was restored in the 90s, was only made available on YouTube earlier this month. She was also featured this month in an episode of Eduardo Bueno’s popular program about Brazilian history, Buenas Idéias. True to his style, Eduardo Bueno often goes for the easy laugh or the hyperbolic caricature of Dora Vivacqua (who chose the stage name Luz del Fuego), but he does manage to foreground her contributions as an ahead-of-her-time pioneer in naturism as well as in women’s rights. In contrast, the thirty-minute, black-and-white documentary A Nativa Solitária provides personal footage of Luz del Fuego as a dancer learning to handle the snakes that often accompanied her on stage, and as a writer/philosopher explaining naturism (as she did in her 1950 book A Verdade Nua [The Naked Truth]). The final half of the documentary features stunning footage of a group of athletic naturists on the beach of Ilha do Sol (Island of the Sun), which was Luz del Fuego’s personal property in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay as well as Brazil’s first naturist destination.
My friend Jorge Bandeira founded GRAUNA, the only naturist group in northern Brazil, in 2003. He is an actor, activist, director and playwright, as well as the owner of a used book and vinyl shop in Manaus – a fascinating person I’ve written about here and here. I even created a fictional version of him in my novel Aglow! For Jorge’s latest project, he brought together a new exhibit and performance event highlighting the social nudist traditions of the Brazilian Indigenous peoples long before the arrival of Europeans or concepts such as “naturism.” The exhibit focuses on how Indigenous traditions in the Amazon region interface with two very present dangers: the current Covid pandemic, and the highly environmentally destructive practice of garimpo, a kind of surface mining for gold that often leaves streams and rivers contaminated with mercury. The exhibit and performance took place this month, not in Jorge’s home state of Amazonas, but in the Atlantic coast state of Bahia (far from the Amazon region), at the renowned naturist community Ecoparque da Mata. The exhibit consisted of various artifacts as well as Jorge’s own drawings and other art. His performance was a loose adaptation in Portuguese of “The Vision” by Exuma. The exhibit was made possible by support from the Secretaria de Cultura e Economia Criativa do Estado do Amazonas (Amazonas State Department of Culture and the Creative Economy).
Social nudism has always had some sort of context in all human societies – it’s international by definition. I know I always feel stronger and more grounded as a naturist when I learn about naturist initiatives and events taking place around the world. Many thanks to Jorge for keeping me up to date and for permission to feature his materials here. Para a frente! (Onward!)