terça-feira, 7 de setembro de 2010

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."

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