terça-feira, 7 de setembro de 2010

Tarzan of the Nudists

Article: Virtually Magazine, by Richard West

When I first heard about Celso Rossi, I understood that he was a club owner in Brazil and a good contact to talk to about Brazilian Naturism. I knew little about Naturism in his country except that there are several clubs and beaches, and that it would be good to check out. Brazil is after all, a good travel destination for Naturists during the North American winter, since Brazil has its summer then. After many e-mail discussions with Celso and others, I booked a ticket and left for Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, (Portuguese for - Big river of the South.) Celso met me at the airport and we drove to Colina do Sol (Sunny Hill), his Naturist club. By the end of the 40 minute trip Celso had told me many stories about the birth of Brazilian Naturism. I now realized that there was a lot more to Celso than I had ever imagined.

In retrospect my trip could have been earlier, but I was working on many projects and decided to go in late March. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake, since it is the end of their season. To rub this fact in, it rained for most of my trip; though many times I was told that the weather had been perfect up until my arrival. January is the best time to go; it is summer in Brazil, people are on holidays, and the Christmas rush is over. Brazil is a very large country. There are 160 million people here, though most of the population lives on a thin strip along several thousand miles of Atlantic coast. The people and climate are very different along this strip. In the north the population is largely native, dead set against Naturism, and the climate is hot and tropical. In the south the people are more European, Naturism is popular and growing explosively, the climate is seasonal, warm and less humid (well you could have fooled me about the humid part, but ... )

Naturism started 14 years ago. Prior to that it did not exist at all. Today, there are about 10 clubs and 5 beaches, almost all of which are in the south (between Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre about 500 miles to the south.) Celso estimates that there are currently several hundred thousand Naturists in Brazil, but I supposed by that, that he was referring to people in favor of Naturism or who had made a visit to a Naturist beach. Still the turnout at each of the 15 or so locations is generally in the hundreds. It might also be useful to point out that Naturist beaches here are quite different from other places; they are not simply secluded beaches. Praia do Pinho (Pine Beach), for example has manned security gates, 2 restaurants, 3 bars, 2 hotels, several houses, a swimming pool, a camping area, and several other buildings and features.

While it would be quite impressive to see the Naturist movement grow this quickly in any country, there is another fact that makes Celso quite unique ... anywhere. Almost the entire Naturist movement has been directly attributable to Celso himself. He started the very first Naturist beach. He founded the Brazilian federation and helped to establish several of the regional federations. He orchestrated a very successful media campaign resulting in widespread acceptance of the Naturist way of life throughout Brazil. His media campaign was so successful that politicians began to actively solicit his help in establishing Naturist areas. He was invited by a mayor in the north to set up the second official Naturist beach, Tambaba. He actively sought out and established a third beach, Pedras Altas (High Rocks), with the help and cooperation of politicians. He sent shock waves through the International Naturist Federation, when he stood up and proposed that Naturist clubs should have some principles, a speech that has left a lasting impact on the INF. He served 5 terms as president of the FBN culminating in a paid trip to the Brazilian congress where he spoke in favor of Naturism and the passing of a law making Naturism legal throughout the whole country. He established his club, Colina do Sol, which he took from vacant land to a well established club with 65 buildings, 400 members and $1.5 million invested, in only 3 years - and he did that at a time when he had no money at all. He publishes a Naturist magazine called "Naturis", has produced 2 Naturist videos, and even has an LP Naturist record of his own music called, "Praia do Pinho." All the while, Celso has been a frontline fighter. He was there in the beginning when police were arresting Naturists; he spent many long nights as a sentry in a dark tent guarding the beach against the threat of intrusion; he policed the beach by swimming 100 meters out to sea and writing citations to captains of boats violating the beach; and he was there to meet the press and the politicians and offer advice about Naturism. It would be difficult to imagine that there would be any Naturism at all, if not for Celso.

It would be a serious omission not to mention Celso's wife, Paula, though it is very difficult to separate her successes from his. Paula lived with Celso in a tent in the jungles of Praia do Pinho, she helped him to organize letter writing campaigns while he cleared the jungle, she was there for the formation of the federations, and she looked after their children while he manned the roadblocks and chased away the curious. Celso has had some enormous successes over the years, but Paula has been there through the tough times as his silent loving partner and supporter.

One such project that Paula and Celso worked together on was the first Naturist congress as Celso explains: "One time Paula along with a friend and I were at Turtle's Paradise wondering what to do for the holiday on the 7th September (1989). This is the Independence Day holiday for Brazil. So we decided to have a Naturist congress at Praia do Pinho and invite Naturists from all over Brazil, along with the media and politicians etc. "Let's have a congress." At Turtle's Paradise at that time, there was no place to have a congress with lots of people. Turtle's Paradise, is on the side of a steep hill overgrown with jungle. I decided therefore, that I would make a place for people to sit. So, with a pick, shovel, and a wheelbarrow and with only 20 days before the congress, I dug out a huge flat area large enough to seat 120 people ... alone. The entire flat area that you see at the restaurant was what I cut into the side of the hill. That was my part. Paula organized the campaign to get people to the congress, wrote the rules, and contacted the press. The day of the congress the newspapers reported on the number of dignitaries that were present. We invited every authority figure we could think of, starting with the 7 candidates for presidency of Brazil. (An election campaign was under way then.) We invited all of these to come to Pinho Beach. We invited the mayor, the police, and everyone. We got a lot of answers. Several presidential candidates wrote back saying that they could not be there, but thanked us for the opportunity. Unfortunately, (or fortunately perhaps), on the day of the congress, the media was getting all prepared to photograph authorities beside Naked people, but then it started to rain really hard. So, at the last minute we had to relocate to an official government building. We organized the room with flags and a table for dignitaries. Then the authorities started to arrive. When the congress opened we took an historical photograph, because there were an unprecedented number of dignitaries in attendance. On my side (in the photo) there was the tourist secretary of the state of Santa Catarina, the secretary of commerce and industry for Brazil, the mayor of the city of Balneario Camboriú (a tourist area which attracts 1.5 million visitors in the summer), the vice-mayor, the president of the police. I doubt that any Naturist meeting anywhere 'ever' got this level of authorities. The photograph of these dignitaries appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout Brazil. So ... with this level of support we started to change the minds and attitudes of people, and get more and more support."

In 14 years the press has printed, and Celso has kept, 1000 pages of newspaper and magazine articles, reports, and cartoons about Naturism in Brazil. There is an article showing the Naturists rescuing passengers from a boat that ran aground; there is an article about Celso (swimming) towing a dead whale 3 kilometers down the coast; there are cartoons depicting big nasty police arresting Naturists - while robbers go free; there are clippings showing Celso sitting with high ranking politicians; etc etc etc. Partly because of the raw determination of this man, standing up and fighting for what he believes in, and partly the impression the press must have had of this Naked man living a basic life in the jungle; in an article a reporter dubbed Celso - "Tarzan of the Nudists", a title that seems rather appropriate.

There were stories too, that the press didn't report, such as Celso the snake hunter. Behind Pinho Beach, Celso and his Naturists have established 'Turtle's Paradise', which is a collection of many buildings, houses etc, including a restaurant, swimming pool and hotel, built right into dense jungle. Occasionally, as you might expect in the jungle, snakes would get into unwelcome places, and when they did, Celso would get them out. On one occasion there was a black snake on the roof of the hotel. Not able to see the whole snake, Celso climbed up and grabbed it by its tail expecting a 2 or 3 foot snake and intending to get a noose around the other end. As it started wrapping around his wrist ... and wrapping ... and wrapping, Celso found that he had grabbed a 10 foot snake, the biggest he had yet seen.

Celso explains some of the other stories that came out of the early days:

"When we started Pinho Beach and it started to grow and we were getting a lot of Nude people, some amazing things started to happen. The beach is located 13 kilometers from Balneario Camboriú. This is a tourist area known for it's beaches. In the summer there are 1.5 million beach going tourists coming to Balneario Camboriú, while at the time we had about 400 Naturists. You can imagine that there were a lot of curious people coming just to look. For me, who had the entire responsibility for the behavior of people there, it was hard sometimes having to receive drunken people after a local carnival, or sometimes boats overloaded with tourists that were coming just to watch."

"The sea was very calm during 1988. As a result, there were boats loaded with 50 people or so, with cameras and camcorders coming very close to the beach. They would get close enough to shout rude remarks and jokes, upsetting the Naturists on the beach. If it were only one boat it wouldn't be so bad, but sometimes we would get 4 or 5 ten meter boats, blocking the horizon and threatening the tranquillity of the beach. I was the president of the beach association at the time so I had to figure out a way of stopping this. There is a law in Brazil which restricts boats from approaching closer than 200 meters of the beach, but nobody was respecting this. I went to see the captain of the marine authority, and when I went there I was dressed in Bermuda shorts, shoes and socks and a casual shirt ... well dressed. But when I arrived, they refused to allow me in the building, because I required long pants.  So I came back the next day, this time with long pants. Now I was allowed in. I was introduced to the captain, who was responsible for the conduct of boats. "Ah ... " he said, "you are from Pinho Beach. We have received some complaints against you, because you are prohibiting people from coming onto a public beach." "No", I replied, "This is not true. We are not prohibiting people from entering the beach. That is a public beach, just like this is a public building." "Yesterday", I told him, "I was stopped at the door because I was dressed in Bermuda shorts. Today, I am dressed according to the rules of this public building. At Pinho we don't prevent people from entering the beach, we tell them they can come in, but they must take their clothes off. This is a Naturist beach; we simply ask them to obey the dress code, just like in this building." The captain liked this explanation and so he gave us permission to put buoys in the water to mark 200 meters. He designated me to be the official beach authority to police the boats."

"We then went to the Camboriú boating club and explained that their boats were coming too close to the beach, that this was dangerous, and explained that we can now write tickets if anyone crosses the buoys. The majority of boat owners had no problem with this, but there was one who snarled and said he'd go anywhere he pleased. I purchased some buoys and swam out 100 meters and placed them in the water (I could have placed them 200 but decided to be more reasonable.) The next day, the buoys were gone. Someone had cut the lines, so I bought more buoys and put them out again. This time 2 were cut. I placed them again, and finally they stayed. The boats started to respect the buoys and it was now only the occasional boat that would cross them and come close to shore. When this occurred I would swim 100 meters out to the boats, and with 30 or so people watching me I would demand to see the captain. This was more than a bit dangerous as many of these boats had big motors or sails and I would have to grab hold of some part of the boat while it was moving quite fast. Once I got hold of the boat, I would climb up and demand, "Captain, I am the delegated beach authority and if you don't go back across the line of buoys, I'll write you up!!" I'd be doing this while clinging to the side of the boat, and the water rushing past me. "Okay ... Okay ... ", they would respond, and with that I'd swim back the 100 meters to shore. This happened many many times. I started to wear a large hat. When the boats arrived and they saw the guy with the hat, they would respect the buoys. It was really funny."

"Another thing that happened was the whale. On one occasion there was a dead whale that appeared and some fishermen pulled the whale close to Pinho Beach. With the wind and waves the whale was threatening to wash ashore. The smell was terrible and had it washed ashore, it would have ruined the beach. So, while the others tried to figure out what to do with it, how to bury it when it washed ashore; I swam once again 100 meters into the ocean, put a rope on its tail and pulled it 3 kilometers away so that it would not wash up on our beach. I swam for several hours, and finally managed to pull the dead whale away from our beach."

"There was a time when we had a problem with a helicopter which came really close to the beach and started to make diving passes that were coming within 5 or 6 meters. People were screaming and kids were running away in panic. Sand was blowing all over the place. It was dangerous. The next day he came back again, but this time we had written "DAC" in huge letters in the sand, which stands for "Department of Civil Aviation", which is responsible for licensing pilots. When he came close to the beach this time, and saw what we had written, the pilot put his hand out of the helicopter and gave us a 'one finger salute', and then left. I went to the airport and reported the number to the authorities and the pilot had was fined and had his licence suspended." 

"Our rules prohibited people from filming or photographing on the beach. A lot of times we had to go after people who would sneak in with telephoto lenses and take photographs from the surrounding hills. When this happened we went after these people and ripped the film from their cameras. The boats would do this too and this was a bit more difficult. If I tried to swim to the boat, by the time I got there they would be gone, so what we would do is get in our cars while keeping an eye on the boat and follow it down the beach along the coastal roads. We knew that the boat had to eventually pull into a dock, so we might follow it for 15 kilometers, but when it came ashore we would run up the dock, board the boat and explain that we were from Pinho Beach and then say "Camera please! and rip the film out." This happened many times." 

It is not simply the 'Naked man in the jungle' image that makes the 'Tarzan' title so appropriate. Celso not only could have done other things; he did. He was already very well established in the business world, with a good management job, a nice house, 2 cars and all of the luxuries one could hope for, when he took on the Naturist cause. Imagine having such success and trading it all in for a tent in the jungle, with nothing to show but a little bit of freedom and a more natural way of life. Imagine consciously deciding to give up all of your material possessions, just because it felt better. Celso did this despite all of the words of wisdom from all of his friends and family, and all of the years of conditioning, and against all of the prevailing social attitudes, because he believed that Naturism was good. Since that time, he has fought a long and difficult battle to gain acceptance for this wonderful lifestyle. At first his family and friends were horrified, but today they regard him with awe and respect. In a rare, yet beautiful irony, Celso's strength comes from having rejected the social norm and then gradually returning to acceptability, not by changing himself, but by changing everyone around him. It is his willingness to risk everything in defense of his principles, that most reminds me of Tarzan, as Tarzan has always been portrayed - pure and incorruptible.

As the president of the FBN, Celso attended INF conferences to represent Brazil. The first one, which Celso recalls here, was in Florida:

"On the 27 August 1992 I found myself on a 767 heading for Florida, a trip which was paid for by the Brazilian government, to attend the 23rd congress of the INF (International Naturist Federation.) The congress was being held at 'Paradise Lakes' located in Orlando this year and was to take place over the next few days. When we first arrived however, there was an evening reception held at 'Club Fred' where all of the delegates met to socialize. Frankly, we were all shocked at what we saw. First, far from being a Naturist club, it was 'clothing optional'. Inside the club people were partially clad in the sort of lingerie and outfits that one purchases at sex shops. People were gyrating and dancing in an intentionally sexual manner. At one point, while we sat chatting at a table, an attractive waitress dressed in lingerie and with her large breasts lying on top of a serving platter that she was carrying, came and asked if there was anything that we desired. It was not this lifestyle which shocked us, but that the INF had chosen to hold its congress in such a place. Politics and money must surely have played a part in this choice, but we were left quite unimpressed."

"The following day, the Phillip Cardin, president of the French federation which represents 600 Naturist clubs and 120 beaches, including the Naturist city of Cape D'Agde, asked the inevitable question of the congress, "Is this kind of behavior at 'Club Fred' - Naturism?" The president of the INF, Bart Wijnberg side stepped the question completely and adjourned for lunch. The question was never answered."

"During the congress elections were held. The way that votes are handed out is that federations are allowed a certain number of votes, depending on their size within the INF. The French federation for example, gets 32 votes out of 262, where-as Brazil with its Naturist movement still in infancy, gets 1 vote. There was no way that I could hope to have any impact with our 1 vote, but as a member I could stand up and express my opinions. This is exactly what I did. My speech, which might have lasted 10 minutes began by asking why Phillip Cardin's question was never answered. In fact I spent 45 minutes talking. I was concerned that while the rules of Paradise Lakes forbade overt sexual behavior, a lot of this was taking place at Club Fred. Not only was this happening, but it was happening with the full knowledge and apparent approval of the Central Committee of the INF. I asked the question: Why would the INF pick such a free style club for a Naturist congress? Club Paradise was a complete surprise to me and I suspect also to many Europeans. Arne Eriksen, executive director for the ASA, and a good friend of Fred Bishoff (owner of Paradise Lakes), was running for vice-president of INF. Clearly, the INF was prepared to overlook this blatant misrepresentation of Naturism and promote Paradise Lakes, in return for their hopes for money that Arne Eriksen could bring to the INF as vice-president. He would certainly have won, that is, until after my speech. I was too young then, and still am, to sacrifice my Naturist principles. Once people heard how outraged I and others were, the vote became much less certain. When the smoke had cleared, the winner was 'Petra Scheller' from Canada. My speech had split the congress. In a quiet yet profound gesture after the congress, Phillip Cardin, walked all the way from the other side of the congress and presented me with a French federation T-shirt."

"Largely, I believe, as a result of my speech at the INF congress in Florida, the ASA changed their name to AANR and withdrew from the INF for 2 years."

"When I founded the Brazilian Naturist Federation in 1988 the police came to arrest people for being Nude at Pinho Beach. Over the next 10 years I served 5 terms as president. Then I was invited by the Brazilian government to speak in favor of Naturism in support of a bill legalizing Naturism throughout the country. The government paid for my trip and I spoke to the congress. After this they voted to pass the bill into law. Naturism is now legal in Brazil. Once again I asked, "now what?" I created the federation when Naturism needed a voice; when people were being arrested. I got 1000 pages of press and hundreds of hours of television in favor of Naturism. I changed public attitudes and I got the laws changed to legalize Naturism. I now felt that my job was finished, so I resigned as president of the FBN."

It was time to move on. Recently, Celso has taken on his dream project and created the thriving Naturist club, Colina do Sol ... from scratch as usual. Behind him, in his wake, he has left a tremendous 'path of creation.' His club occupies most of his attention now, and the various beaches, clubs, and federations that he has helped to create are now in the hands of others.

Celso lives now with Paula, and their two delightful children, Gabriel and Valentina, in Colina do Sol. They have been here for 3 years in this, now, very well established club. While the surroundings are a bit more rustic than the city, they are far removed from the jungles of Pinho. At sunset there is a spectacular view of the forest surrounding the club uninterrupted by civilization. They have built a large lake, which notably also has an artificial swamp in the corner that birds have now taken up nesting in. The houses and cabins are built largely out of poles from eucalyptus trees and there is a grass hut at the beach. The club is surrounded by jungle; it is a wonderfully natural area. But they also have electricity, a car, satellite TV, and a phone system that is connected to the main grid by radio giving them access to the internet. It reminds me of the end of a movie, where all of the enemies have been defeated and the conflicts resolved. Tarzan is happy and content, but somehow you sense a restlessness and that there is more to come in the sequel. Celso has hinted that we should not be too surprised if he once again walks away, with an abrupt clean break, and starts something totally new. If or when it happens, I have no doubt that we will all, once again, be amazed at the success of his next venture, and the continuing adventures of 'Tarzan of the Nudists.'

Praia do Pinho ... the birth of Brazilian Naturism

Article: Virtually Magazine, by Richard West

In March 1999 I found myself in Brazil talking to the owner/founder of Colina do Sol, the first and biggest Naturist club in the country. Today however, I was asking Celso Rossi about how the Naturist movement started in Brazil. It started with the first Nude beach located in the south of Brazil in a town called, Balneario Camboriú, and on a beach called, Praia do Pinho. Celso explains:

"When I founded Pinho Beach I was on vacation in Santa Catarina with my ex-wife. We were looking for a place to get Naked to feel the wind and the sea. We wanted to feel like we were stranded on a desert island; like we were the only two people in the world. When I got that feeling, I remembered that I had read something in a magazine about a Nudist beach in Santa Catarina, the same state where I was living. I asked people in a few restaurants if there was a Nude beach in the area and they looked at me like I was a crazy man. I told them that some time ago a magazine had published an article about a Nudist beach near there. I was only 15 Kilometers from where the beach was supposed to be."

At this point Celso pulls out 2 hardcovered books with 1000 pages of newspaper and other clippings, mostly about Pinho Beach. He points to the article and photos that he had seen so long ago which reports "Todo mundo nu em Camboriú (everyone Nude at Camboriú.)" As it turns out however, the writer for the magazine had gone to night clubs and hired people to pose Nude at the beach for the article. The article then went on to question the local authorities to get their reaction to this, so far nonexistent "Nude beach." Celso continued:

"When I arrived at the beach for the first time (in 1985), there were already some 5 or 6 Naked people. Pinho is a secluded beach and at that time access was not very good. Apparently, the article, which was an utter fake, served as a catalyst for the creation of Brazil's first official Nude beach. Many people from other parts of the country had no idea that the article employed night club patrons, and they eagerly came assuming that it was a regular Nude beach. The local residents in Camboriú however, recognized those in the article as being prostitutes and gays, assumed that the beach was being used by this kind of crowd, and so when we arrived they thought that we were also prostitutes and gays. This misunderstanding was the first obstacle that we had to overcome, to show the local community that we were reasonable people who simply wanted a natural place to be Nude. Needless to say the newspapers latched on to this with articles about the 'Nude beach' attracting many people, but also causing a reaction. Acting on these articles a local politician asked the police to take action. The police came and arrested people at the beach. There were many couples and tourists from far away. Now the newspapers started to take our side. They criticized the authorities, saying that the "authorities are blind, because while Nudists are being arrested, robberies are continuing."

"So the newspapers polled the people in the municipality and the people said "yes" to 'Nudity' at Pinho Beach. 85% of the people interviewed said that it was okay to go Nude at a secluded beach. After this the politicians started to defend Nudity, because they saw that the majority of people agreed with it. In practice however, it was not so easy at the beach and the police continued to come and arrest people. In the immediate vicinity of the beach there were a lot of evangelical people who were against Nudity."

"It was at that time that I decided to write a code of ethics for Pinho Beach to demonstrate to the local people and the curious visitors that the behavior of Naturists at the beach was completely acceptable. At that time we didn't have any experience with other Naturist organizations around the world, so we based our ethical standards on our local experiences. I then founded the first Naturist organization in Brazil to represent the rights of Naturists in front of the authorities. Originally this was called the 'ANPP' or Associação dos Naturistas da Praia do Pinho (Association of Naturists of Pinho Beach.) Some of our people didn't want to sign a document with the word 'Naturist' in it, so we changed the name to 'AAPP' or 'Associação Amigos da Praia do Pinho (Friends of Pinho Beach.) We then started to do a lot of work on the beach during the peak summer season between November and March. Each new summer brought more and more people to the beach and more and more articles in the newspapers."

Pulling open the book again, Celso explains that from the beginning until 1988 they had 100 pages of newspaper articles written about the beach.

Making Naturism Official

"I started to feel that we had only one 500 meter Naturist beach in Brazil, and that it was dangerous for us because if a really big problem occurred at that beach, Naturism in Brazil would be finished. I felt that it was necessary to found a national federation and also to establish other Naturist centers in the country. In 1988 I wrote the statutes for the Federação Brasileira de Naturismo (Brazilian Naturist Federation [FBN]) and at the same time invited 3 groups of people for 3 different meetings during one day of the Easter holidays. During these 3 meetings we founded;

AGN - Associação Gaúcha de Naturismo in the state of Rio Grande do Sul

APAN - Associação Paranaense de Naturismo in the state of Paraná

SP-NAT - Associação Paulista de Naturismo for São Paulo

Including Pinho Beach in Santa Catarina, we now had 4 states represented and a national federation."

"Now that we had the federations established, I had to physically attend the meetings in the state capitals where these federations were located, to help them grow. We had the meetings in restaurants, because so far we didn't have any clubs."

I asked Celso how he managed to make a living during this time, when he was traveling so much and taking care of the beach as well. Celso replied, "Before this, I was the marketing manager of a company. I had a good job in a company that my family owned. But after 10 years of working for that company, I had already climbed the corporate ladder and at 27 years of age, I was already a senior manager. I was making a good salary, I had an office and a desk to sit at, and many employees below me. I asked himself; "Well now what?" By this time I had separated from my first wife, I had a nice fully furnished apartment with a pool, a sailboat, two cars, and would spend my money in the evenings like a playboy ... I had everything. So I asked, "Now what?, What will I buy now?" There was nothing to buy; I already had everything that I could want. But I don't like what I did ... I didn't like my work. I needed to make money to pay for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday ... but the weekend was free. So I asked myself what does it cost for each day. Right now it was a lot, but if I moved to Pinho Beach, all I would need was my tent, food, my car, my scuba gear and a few other things. I calculated that all I would need to live, would be about $1200 per year. I had about $25,000 in savings, so at this rate, I could live on Pinho Beach for about 20 years. Well, I was 27 years old, and I was already stressed with a lot of work, and a lot of problems and a lot of people, doing what I didn't like to do. So ... I went to Pinho Beach. In that condition I founded the Brazilian Naturist Federation. I had some money, which was supposed to take care of me for 20 years, but I started to spend money on trips to São Paulo and other places to give support for those groups that I had started, and to help them grow." Celso just wanted a nice place where he could relax and get away from the rat-race, but he had now inadvertently created a new job for himself. With the introduction of the federations, he now found himself spending most of his time (and money) coordinating the affairs of the Naturist movement and acting as a public relations liaison with the newspapers, who were becoming increasingly interested in the Brazilian Naturist movement.

Working with the Press

"Our main job became working with the press. I had some friends at the newspapers and magazines, and I took care of the reports. I saw that the Nude body in photographs could sell a lot of newspapers and magazines. The Naturists were therefore a good product to make articles about. The reporters were interested in making articles about us, so when they first arrived at Pinho Beach I told them that there were 2 conditions; 1) permission must be obtained from people for photos, and 2) I would read the entire text - before it went to press. At first I edited articles and made notes in the columns like a censor. This started something of a tradition, because as more newspaper reporters and camera crews arrived later, they would read the early articles that I had edited. They already had some concept of what was acceptable to print; concepts which I had initiated. In Brazil, as in any country, the press is very powerful. They can put a new president in power, and they can remove that same president. We had to work with the press. Because of this, years later I was invited to make a speech about our work with the press at Pinho Beach. This was at a public relations seminar for all of Latin America. Public relations professionals from around the world thought that our job in Pinho Beach was a genuine success in public relations. Our tiny little group, without any money or other resources, was capable of having an enormous positive impact on the community."

"For our first building project, I made a contract with a land owner with 25,000 square meters beside Pinho Beach, in what we now call "Turtle's paradise." We now had headquarters for the association, and this was 3 years after starting the association in 1988. I started to formulate a plan to attract new people who wanted to leave their jobs in the city and come to live at Pinho Beach permanently. At that time only myself and Paula (my wife and mother of our 2 children), were living there in a tent and a hut that we had made under the trees in the jungle. When people from the city arrived they would comment that we were living our dreams. When we would invite them to live there as well, they commented that they had a job, children etc, and they couldn't just drop everything and leave. They had problems. I reasoned that only living people had problems. When someone dies, he doesn't have any more problems. To move to the jungle at Pinho Beach, people had to more or less transform themselves through a sort of death exercise, in order to put all of their problems behind and embrace an entirely new kind of existence. Once you severed the ball and chain, there was a great light feeling as all of your burdens were removed. I understood however, why most people were not prepared to make this kind of sacrifice. I don't know who is more courageous, the person who continues to tolerate a life that he hates, or the one who throws everything away, to start a new life. I don't know if I am courageous for having changed my life. Others who think so, are not familiar with the uncertainties that I have faced. I started to develop ideas, so that there would be something to offer to other Naturists from the cities, so that they would not have to sacrifice everything to move to Pinho. People who wanted to be a part of the beach, required some kind of structured existence, employment opportunities, and buildings to live in. Not everyone was prepared, like me, to live in a hut in the jungle apart from society - like Tarzan."

"In Turtle's Paradise, we had a temporary contract with the owners of the land. I discussed several proposals with them to build a Naturist community, with income for the owners, to accommodate the needs of civilized people wanting to relocate to Pinho, but we never managed to agree."

Beyond Praia Do Pinho

"I started to look for other places. I helped during this time to establish more clubs and beaches in other parts of Brazil. I had a well established reputation by this time, for the 6 years or so of work and the success of Pinho Beach. The mayors of other communities around Brazil were very interested now in having me come and help set up a Naturist center near their cities, because they were well aware of the positive publicity that this would bring for them. They were inviting me to set up my next Naturist beach in their communities. One example, the second official Naturist Beach in Brazil, was in Tambaba 5,500 kilometers north of Pinho. I was invited by the mayor to start a new Naturist beach Praia de Tambaba in Paraiba. With the trip paid for by the municipality, the mayor and I started the new federation and worked to establish ethics codes. At the beachfront we started to monitor people arriving at the beach. In this part of the country people often arrive at the beach with guns and a lot of gold jewelry demanding to see who will not permit him to come dressed to this beach. I was there to answer them ... I would tell them, "it's me ... but well ... let's talk about this."

"Then we started Naturist places in other parts of the country. I was always helping out those other groups; lending my support; sharing our experiences; in São Paulo, in Rio and a lot of other places."

"It took a long time, but after a lot of hard work doing these things for a long time, we got the respect, not just from the cities, the authorities, and the press, but from the Naturists. We got the respect from our people. But as much as we did and all of the work we put into building this beach, Naturist associations are political by nature. Any time you have a political entity there will always be someone that wants to take your place. Some of these people would say things against us. This happens in any political situation, but perhaps even more so in Naturism because Naturists tend to be more passionate. This was the worst thing that happened; the hardest thing to deal with. Sometimes I lost friends because of lies created about me. These things really hurt. People will ask me sometimes, if I miss Pinho Beach where I built everything, saying that I have been away for a long time. I don't miss going there now. I had many many accomplishments that make me proud, but I also have disagreements with some of the people there and these make me sad." 

"There came a time when I decided I had to move on."

Colina do Sol ... paradise at last

Article: Virtually Magazine, by Richard West

As you can see from the previous article, Praia do Pinho is a work in progress. While it is a spectacular accomplishment, is well organized and policed, and has more facilities than most clubs, for Celso it was not quite finished. Celso's dream was to create a Naturist paradise which offered sufficient support and structure to city people, so that they would be able to move to there permanently. While there are several houses in Turtle's paradise, and businesses such as the restaurants support some members, it still fell short of Celso's dream. This, in addition to political considerations, caused him to look elsewhere for the paradise he still sought.

"Paula and I left Pinho beach one day. In 30 minutes we sold our house and restaurant. Actually, it might have been more like 20 minutes. I walked to the beach and asked of a friend, "Do you want to buy my house?" I asked another, "Do you want to buy my restaurant?" I left Pinho beach in less than 30 minutes with $20,000. Perhaps one day I'll sell Colina do Sol in 10 minutes. We like to be free; if we have chains we cannot be free."

"Pinho Beach was a lot of work. I had no previous experience doing anything like this and had to make things up as I went along. There were no INF delegates to help out. After that however, there was a man who had 14 hectares of land by a beach called Pedras Altas (High Rocks.) He had gone to Pinho Beach, liked what he saw, and like many others asked me to come and create a Naturist beach. I went to Pedras Altas and realized that it was a beautiful beach and that we could do something here. It is a secluded beach with clear calm water. We began to think that this is where we could carry on with the project to build a place where people could come and live and work. We could develop a lot of ecological and holistic enterprises with the cooperation of this individual. Pedras Altas started another kind of job with its own difficulties and it was not a good job. Pinho Beach was a good job; I really enjoyed swimming out and catching boats, dragging whales, chasing after helicopters, and challenging the authorities by changing public opinions. It was an adventure which felt good when we won. At Pedras Altas we built a beautiful project to start a new Naturist beach, but we soon ran into a wall of bureaucratic problems. We spent 2 years of work and meetings in offices with the deputy's assembly, the governor and with the mayor getting approval for buildings and with concerns about the environment etc etc etc. The politicians and authorities were on our side this time; they wanted to help us. We started; we created a Naturist beach, but after all this time we still didn't have approval to build all of the bungalows and buildings that we wanted to make. There were some people in public places that we needed approval from, who must have been against Naturism, and would not sign the necessary forms. Pedras Altas was at least twice as hard as Pinho Beach to get started, and I didn't get the same results ... but I learned a lot."

"Finally, when we decided to look for another property to start another project, which today is Colina do Sol, we combined all of our experience that we had from Pinho Beach, from Tambaba, from São Paulo, from Rio and Pedras Altas. We learned from our successes and failures and decided this time to do everything right, because Colina do Sol had to work. The success and level of development that you see here is the result of a lot of experiences. We needed to have intelligent ideas written in models for contracts and rules, a code of ethics, and clear procedures so that investors would feel secure putting their money into the project. We have a clear line. People know what to expect from them. People can come here and expect to be here for years. They have confidence in Paula and myself because of everything that we have created before. We have some good friends and partners from many of the previous projects but we alone are recognized for our persistence in reaching our objectives."

"We came to Rio Grande do Sul because my father had a house. Paula and I had 2 children by this time, Gabriel and Valentina. I started my Naturist magazine again. I had published 3 issues of Naturis magazine and then stopped for 2 years. Now I was starting it again. We spent 1.5 years looking for some property to start a Naturist club. When we saw the property we realized, finally, this was beautiful. This is where we had to build our Naturist club. After looking at 30 or 40 different areas, we said, "Wow, this was it!" By that time however, we were completely broke. All our money had been spent and we had no money to buy it with."

"I had many friends from Pinho Beach and other places that had told me, "No problem Celso, when you are ready to start a club just call us; we want to be your partner, we will help." I started making phone calls and telling my friends that I had found a place and wanted to start a club. As soon as they found out where it was, they would say, "Where?? Rio Grande do Sul?? It's in the south. It's too cold there. You can't have a Naturist club that far south." No one would even come to look at the land. But Paula and I believed that this was the place to start a new and successful project. The property was for sale, and we were determined to have it. I remembered a man from near Pinho beach, who had money and was familiar with my work. After discussing my plans for the property, he was the first to come and see the land. There was nothing but grass and trees at the time, but as I showed him around I pointed out where I was going to build the lake, and where the volleyball court would be, and where the houses and buildings would go. He was impressed and told me that he could see that I was enthusiastic, so he agreed to lend me the money to buy the land. It was not cheap. He agreed to lend me $50,000 with 3% interest per month, ($1500 per month in interest) and regardless he wanted the $50,000 paid back in full within 12 months. Furthermore, the first interest payment was due in 30 days."

"It was August, the middle of the winter in Brazil. There was a guy who worked watching the land, who was to be paid $100 per month, and we didn't even have that much. My father guaranteed the loan with his house. We started writing to all the friends we knew, that were interested in living and working in a Naturist project, and 20 days later we had the first meeting of Naturists. On 20 August, we had 9 Naturists arrive. In order to finance the project, our plan was to sell concessions. The idea is simple, if someone wants to run a business operation such as a store, he purchases a concession which gives him the right to run the business. We don't sell the land, only the rights; membership and house are separate. This allows people to move to Colina do Sol full time, and make money while living there. We still needed to make the first interest payment in another 10 days, but during that meeting we sold our first concession for $1500. After this first sale we were sure that Colina do Sol would be a great success. Our dream was quickly becoming a reality."

Colina do Sol occupies the top of a hill, with a spectacular view of the surrounding forests and other hills. Way below you can look down on the small village of Taquara. You can see it especially well from the upper balcony of the saloon. The saloon is large building with a bar, dance floor, and pool table. It is one of the many concessions which operate in the club. There is a restaurant of course which comfortably seats 30 or 40 people inside and out, and has a nice variety of Brazilian food. The food here is quite different from North American, but is also quite palatable. There is a store which sells a wide selection of food and necessities. One of the concessions is for the construction of houses and other buildings, which are going up in record numbers (about 2 starts per month.) To service these building starts, there is a hardware store. (That's right - a fully functional hardware store, to purchase plumbing, nails, axes etc.) This is the only hardware store I am aware of in any Naturist club! Another concession worth noting, is the BBQ. [In Brazil, BBQs are a major specialty which are as identifiable with Brazilian cuisine as pizza is with Italy. When in Brazil, you definitely want to dine at a BBQ, which typically is a large restaurant with a 40 foot wood fired grill, and 40 to 50 different types of BBQed meat on the menu.] The BBQ in Colina is a building which offers the same service to club members, but scaled down. There is also a 14 room motel, sauna / hot tub, exercise room. There is a camping area - for tents. These are the main concessions, but they continue to expand.

Construction is going on at a tremendous rate. Within 3 years of purchasing the property, (which has long since been paid for by the way), there were 65 buildings. These range in size from small cabins to the saloon and hotel. One house that I visited was 3 storeys high and featured a carport. The interesting thing about the buildings is that they take advantage of the abundant supply of natural materials. From the forests eucalyptus trees are used for beams and corner posts, since they are long and straight, and taper very little. Once the frame is in place stones, which are readily available, are used to build the walls, along with cement which is mixed from the camp's gravel. Probably half the material cost of construction is free. Originally, an artificial lake was built. This has now been finished with cement to become a large swimming pool, and a 3 ha lake has been built to take its place. The lake features a beach which Celso is particularly proud of, because truckloads of sand were shipped in from 200 km away to make a really nice sandy beach. Actually, there is a second lower lake, and off the large lake there is a marshy area that has attracted the attention of many wild birds. Of course there is volleyball, along with a small soccer pitch, various other games and a nice playground for the kids. There are walkways and roads all around the club, and particularly around the lake there has been a lot of landscaping done. The camp is also secured by large gates at both ends of the camp. One of the interesting ideas is actually off the camp. Several, non-Naturist concessions offering holistic services are under construction. The idea is to encourage local non-Naturists to use these services, who will then become interested in the club, located right next door.

Colina do Sol represents the pinnacle of success of Naturism in Brazil. Though it is a very new club, it was built on a solid foundation of knowledge and experience from many other projects, successes and failures, throughout the country. The membership obviously reflects this solid foundation, as it is growing at an enormous rate. It is not uncommon for a club owner to pull out a photo album and show off the 'early days' of his club, pointing out events that took place in the 'old' lake before the 'new' one was built, etc. Celso did this. The difference here, though you wouldn't notice until it is pointed out, is that the 'early days' were not 30 or 40, but only 3 short years ago. Certainly, I plan to return to this paradise, but from what I have seen it wouldn't surprise me if I disembark at the 'Colina do Sol airport!'

sábado, 4 de setembro de 2010


Muito cedo, na nossa infância, na descoberta do universo que nos cerca, tomamos consciência do “eu” e do “meu” e diferenciamo-nos, assim, do “tu” do “teu”. Essa percepção de separação nos induz a ver o mundo e nos posicionarmos a partir do ego, que nada mais é do que um programa de gerenciamento, um “software”, de controle e proteção do nosso corpo e da nossa individualidade, através da qual nos relacionamos com aquilo que o ego considera ser “o mundo externo”.

As primeiras experiências da vida vão-nos tomando de assalto e começamos a reagir a elas com a perfeita sensação de que estamos no comando da nossa história. Quando as coisas acontecem de acordo com o que imaginamos, com o que planejamos, sentimos que fomos competentes, inteligentes, hábeis para dominar os acontecimentos e produzir aquilo que desejávamos. Quando o resultado acontece em desacordo com a nossa idéia inicial, mesmo tendo feito “a nossa parte”, costumamos atribuir a responsabilidade pelo insucesso aos outros, que não fizeram adequadamente o seu papel, ou a fatores como “sorte ou azar”.

Com o passar dos anos e com a observação das nossas próprias histórias de e das histórias das pessoas que nos cercam, em muitos momentos começamos a suspeitar de que existe algo além da simples seqüência de acontecimentos caracterizados por uma corrente infindável de causa e efeito, através de uma linha histórica que se estende para trás a se perder no passado.

É quando começam a surgir as primeiras manifestações espontâneas da espiritualidade. É quando começamos a desconfiar de que existe algum significado oculto nas nossas vidas e como se “alguém” ou alguma forma de “inteligência” estivesse manipulando os acontecimentos, em especial aqueles que, antes, classificávamos como “sorte ou azar”: os eventos interligados com relações acausais.

Este seria, talvez, o desenvolvimento natural da compreensão do ser humano a respeito de quem é, como é o mundo e qual o seu papel nesta vida.

Os homens, entretanto, com a sua mania de institucionalizar, acabam criando agrupamentos religiosos que têm, invariavelmente, o vício de querer ensinar dogmaticamente aquilo que só pode ser apreendido através da percepção individual e espontânea, a partir da vivência da própria história pessoal. Desse modo, a descoberta natural da espiritualidade acaba sendo substituída por crenças cegas, estéreis e sectárias, preconceituosas, ou abafada pela rebeldia adolescente, conduzindo ao materialismo científico, igualmente estéril, sectário e preconceituoso.

Ambos os lados, através de seus líderes e expoentes, chamam para si a posse da verdade absoluta. Ocorre que a Verdade não tem dono, é livre e paira no ar, misturada nas lendas religiosas e nas descobertas científicas; percebida nas preces atendidas e nos experimentos de laboratório. Talvez, uma mesma Verdade, para ser reconhecida, precise estar visível de todos os ângulos, tanto nos textos sagrados milenares, quanto nas últimas descobertas da Física Quântica; tanto na arte da Astrologia, quanto nas palavras dos profetas; tanto nas comunicações com espíritos, quanto nas pequenas “coincidências” do nosso dia-a-dia, às quais nem sempre damos a devida atenção.

Talvez a melhor maneira de recuperarmos uma forma saudável de desenvolvimento físico, mental e espiritual seja abandonando nossos preconceitos e julgamentos. Temos de voltar a ter o espírito puro e desarmado da criança que éramos antes de sermos catequizados ou antes de termos nos rebelado contra os dogmas religiosos que os nossos pais e professores tentavam nos presentear.

Algum tempo atrás, tive um exemplo bem claro desse comportamento limitante a que as pessoas se impõe, ao que parece, pelo medo de se defrontar com as frágeis estruturas lógicas da sua visão de mundo. Seja religiosa ou científica, espiritual ou materialista. Presenteei a dois amigos – um padre e um materialista – com meu livro, recém publicado, Sincronicidade Absoluta – A ilusão do Livre-Arbítrio. A ambos pedi que lessem e me enviassem uma crítica, por e-mail. Passados alguns meses, encontrei o amigo ateu, materialista, e perguntei o que ele tinha achado das idéias do livro, se eram coerentes ou se ele tinha encontrado falhas na estruturação dos argumentos. Um pouco constrangido, ele foi sincero em reconhecer que não o tinha lido. Disse que ao ler o índice e verificar que, ao final, o livro falava de Deus, do Sentimento Oceânico, ele não se interessou pelo assunto, pois não acreditava naquilo.

Recentemente, encontrei o meu amigo padre e lhe fiz a mesma pergunta. Ele disse: “Eu só li o começo, pois quando vi que o livro tinha um conteúdo científico e materialista, que vai contra as minhas crenças, não fui adiante.”

A ambos fiz apenas uma pergunta, que não puderam me responder. Ao padre, perguntei: “Se Deus é onisciente e conhece o passado e o futuro, sabendo tudo o que vou fazer amanhã, como posso ter Livre-Arbítrio ou ser julgado pelos meus atos se, certamente, não vou surpreendê-Lo?”. Ao materialista perguntei: “Se experimentos científicos já demonstraram que os átomos podem ser constituídos apenas de energia e informação, sem nada sólido, qual a diferença de “matéria-prima” entre a realidade que percebemos depois que toca o despertador e aquela, um pouco antes, enquanto um simples sonho nos provocava sensações e emoções tão vívidas quanto as da “vida real”?

É possível que textos milenares, como o Bhagavad Gita, da Índia, não tenham a intenção de fazer metáforas e sejam simplesmente literais, em trechos como: “Tendo aprendido a verdade, a ilusão vai ter um fim, então você vai saber que todos os seres vivos, fazendo parte de Mim, pertencem somente a Mim e vivem dentro de Mim”. Seria essa a nossa “realidade”? Seríamos todos personagens de um sonho?

Mais adiante, na mesma obra, de mais de cinco mil anos, encontramos: “Sendo a Suprema Pessoa, sei tudo o que aconteceu, tudo o que está acontecendo e tudo o que vai acontecer.(…)”. Seria esta uma explicação para as incontáveis profecias, clarividências, precognições, fartamente registradas na história, de eventos que se concretizaram, em detalhes, exatamente da forma como foram “pré-vistos”, meses, anos ou centenas de anos antes dos fatos ocorrerem?

Ainda no Bhagavad Gita, temos, literalmente: “O Supremo Senhor Deus reside no coração e dirige cada passo de todos os seres vivos, que estão como em uma máquina movida pela energia da matéria natural.” Seria esta uma indicação de que todo o universo, os planetas e as pessoas, funcionam sincronicamente? Seria esta uma explicação para a inegável correlação estudada pelos astrólogos entre os astros e a nossa vida aqui na Terra? Seria essa a razão de que tantas “coincidências” se apresentem em nossa vida, levando-nos a desconfiar de que fazemos parte de uma “trama” que se desenrola além do nosso controle? Talvez a Verdade jamais se manifeste de modo inquestionável, simples e arrebatadora, perante todas as religiões, filósofos e cientistas. Talvez continuemos mais alguns milhares de anos discutindo religião, filosofia e ciência como membros de diferentes partidos políticos ou times de futebol. Talvez a Verdade já tenha sido descoberta milhares de anos atrás e dita de uma forma tão simples que os homens de hoje, com suas mentes tão complexas e eruditas, não consigam mais compreender.

Celso L. Rossi

autor do livro
Sincronicidade Absoluta – A Ilusão do Livre-Arbítrio