The Greatest Freakshow on Earth

Image source: Folha de S.Paulo

New York might have the “Naked” Cowboy and Tokyo might have outlandish Harajuku street fashion, but São Paulo’s where you’ll see 40 skateboard punks commandeer a city street and a truly-naked homeless man walking down the street swinging low amidst the skateboarders. Then, seeing people coaxing the man into his clothes without the slightest tinge of judgment, as if this manner of streaking were a common occurrence.

Two streets over from my house is the world’s highest concentration of transsexual prostitutes in existence, where a truly woman-like person in fishnets and stilettos shivers on the street corner, every now and then letting out a heavy cough from a man-sized esophagus, not unlike the sound of a construction worker choking on asbestos. The humor is in how many passing cab drivers actually slow down as they pass her/him in order to get a better look. The other day, I saw an addict (heroin?) stumble in front of a moving moving van that, fortunately, squealed to a halt as dude bounced Meet Joe Black-style into the street before slurring angrily in unintelligible Portuguese at the driver, at the same moment a couple of cops were harassing two more homeless addicts in broad daylight, one of whom stood defiantly against the wall looking like a mix of Minnie Pearl and the light-skinned half of Kris Kross in a “What the hell y’all want, pigs?” pose. Oh, the hilarity.

Elsewhere in Cracolândia (yes, that’s what it’s called), things took a New Jack City-ish turn last week when an exec in suit-and-tie got caught on camera chupando the glassy phallus (see photo above) while the police do nothing, and just a few blocks away, the March for Jesus rallied thousands of evangelicals in “take our city back” mode yesterday.

This Sunday: the world’s biggest gay pride parade, according to the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records, with an estimated 3 million gays, lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals, and non-homophobic straight folk trying to pack onto Avenida Paulista, screaming what they think are the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” At 1:30, there’s an extra-special city-sponsored flash mob Waltz for Diversity, where you’re supposed to grab whoever’s next to you and twinkle-toe to the strains of “The Blue Danube.”

That might be kinda fun, actually. See, you gotta be freaky to live here.

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge, but doubling-up, as I’m not a daily blog poster. So…

Day 4 – a picture of me in another country:

Istanbul, September 2009

Day 5 – what I take with me while traveling: my iPod, clean underwear, the latest Monocle magazine, the laptop, an open mind. 😉

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