THE 'UGLY' BROTHER
São Paulo’s charm has historically been defined by comparison. Like a small child whose attributes are always being judged and valued by his brother’s standards, the allure of Brazil’s biggest city has always fallen in the shadows of its northern counterpart: Rio de Janeiro. Known as ‘the tomb of samba’, ‘the biggest industrial park in Latin-America’, and ‘the land of drizzle’, São Paulo’s appeal is one to look for in the cracks, the flesh and not the skin. Founded in 1554 by Jesuits, the city has radically and constantly transformed over the last 500 years, from one of the first colonial villages to a megalopolis of 20 million. Today, Sampa is the archetypal concrete jungle (even though it has more vegetation that you could probably imagine): its pale and greyish tones and the unending buildings frame almost every view of the city, making this industrial and mechanic skeleton paradise or hell, or both, depending on which side of the street you stand on. Far from the media-produced images traditionally associated with Brazil, the heavenly beaches, the voluptuous women dancing to the intoxicating rhythms of bossa nova and samba, the collective sea of bodies in a state of trance occupying every inch of Rio de Janeiro’s streets during carnaval, São Paulo is a transgressive entity that holds multiple cities under one name; a cultural site of complex and ever changing dynamics between hidden desires and public manifestations of sexuality; a place that encapsulates and radicalizes the best and worst of Brazilian culture.