Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Globo TV set to debut series “Sexo e as negas” starring four black women inspired by the series “Sex and the City”


New Globo TV series "Sexo e as negas" debuts September 16th

New Globo TV series “Sexo e as negas” debuts September 16th

Note from BW of Brazil: Just for clarity, BW of Brazil wishes to clarify that this article DOES NOT represent an endorsement of this new series. It is simply a report of a controversial new show that is already causing quite a bit of backlash among what we would call Brazil’s black consciousness community. Today’s story is a followup to an initial feature from a few weeks back when more details about the series became available online. Stay tuned to this blog for more analysis and reviews of the series that, even not having been released as of yet, has already sparked indignation, revolt and rejection.

On another note, in a comment posted on the previous entry about the series, someone questioned the usage of the negress in the English translation of the series title. The original Portuguese title of the series was Sexo e as nega, which we translated as “sex and the negress”. Initially, the title didn’t have the “s” on the end of the term nega, a derivative of the term negra, meaning black woman. The series is now being called Sexo e as Negas. Please keep in mind, that as everything on this blog is based on translations from the Portuguese into English, sometimes it is necessary to take liberty with some terms and expressions that may not/cannot be translated exactly and maintain its exact original meaning in Portuguese. A long-time activist friend in Rio suggested the translation of nega into negress and after learning the synopsis of the series, we decided that negress would be a sufficient translation. Consider, for example, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting’s reading of the character Lucia from Mayotte Capécia’s 1950 novel, La négresse blanche.

“The lascivious negress stereotype. A black woman reduced to her base corporeal, specifically sexual, function, copulating like an unscrupulous animal….love is as fleeting as an orgasm. Lucia is forever on the lookout for a quick fix. For Lucia, love is sex and sex is love. Thus her love story, or rather love stories, are ones driven by sheer need for satiation. For Capécia, black femininity represents bestiality and immorality; black women are either hideously made-up prostitutes or possess prostitute proclivities.” (1)

As you will see in the description, this series, as in Brazil’s literature and media, will continue to promote the hyper-sexual stereotype of the negra/mulata woman, hence justifying the usage of the term negress according to its historic symbolism and Whiting’s reading of a negra/mulata character in the novel set in the island of MartiniqueBelow is how the series’ characters and story line have been initially described by the cast and its creator. 

Inspired by Sex and the City, Sexo e as negas (Sex and the negresses) chronicles the amorous misadventures of four friends

Miguel Falabella’s new project trades New York City for Rio de Janeiro

By Thaís Britto

Maria Bia, Lilian Valeska, Corina Sabbas and Karin Hills are in "Sexo e as negas"

Maria Bia, Lilian Valeska, Corina Sabbas and Karin Hills are in “Sexo e as negas”

They don’t drink Cosmopolitan, but beer at the corner pub; they don’t get around in a yellow New York cab, but in a cheap car painstakingly bought and divided among the four friends; they don’t wear the trendiest designer wear in the world, but reserve a few bucks to carefully dress themselves up. One thing, however, the girls of Sexo and as negas have in common with the muses of Sex and the City: they are looking for a love to call their own. And while it doesn’t come, they have fun. And how! In the Miguel Falabella series, which debuts on September 16th, days after the novela Tapas & Beijos, the universe of the protagonists is Cidade Alta, in the Cordovil region of north zone Rio de Janeiro; a place that the author knows and frequents.

“The idea was born in Cordovil, in a feijoada at the house of Nieta, my maid. I go there a lot, I’m very well received. I was so happy, it was such a happy day…And I’ve seen some beautiful black women, so innovative, so well dressed. I said, jokingly, “I should do a parody of Sex and the City called ‘Sex and as nega’ and with that accent. Everyone started laughing, but I had that in mind. As I don’t throw anything away, I kept the idea for the future,” Falabella recalls.

The four friends alongside the Jesuína (Claudia Jimenez) (photo: Renato Rocha Miranda)

The four friends alongside the Jesuína (Claudia Jimenez) (photo: Renato Rocha Miranda)

Tilde (Corina Sabbas), Zulma (Karin Hils), Lia (Lilian Valeska) and Soraia (Maria Bia) are the four inseparable friends that hit the spot at Jesuína’s (Claudia Jimenez) bar, the narrator of the story. Although the relationship with the American series not being direct, they have personalities somewhat familiar: Soraia has a hint of Samantha (the Kim Catrall role), a harlot, the man-eater. Tilde is a romantic who dreams so much of the charming prince that she already has the wedding trousseau ready, just waiting for the lucky guy to appear. Lia is a bit older: age 38, has a 21-year old daughter, an 8-year old granddaughter, and lives grappling with her offender ex-husband.  Zulma is liberated, works in theater, but the temperament to deal with a somewhat repressive father.

As one can see, Brazilian culture and the research of the team and cast with the women from Cidade Alta influenced the composition of the characters. The expressions most used by the four protagonists to describe women they interpret the series, in fact, pass through self-esteem and lack of freshness. Corina and Maria, the two non-locals of the group, define the impression they had during their training in the community:

The new series was inspired by the American series "Sex and the City"

The new series was inspired by the American series “Sex and the City”

“Despite being from Brasília, my family is all carioca (Rio natives) and from the subúrbio (suburb). So what I saw there in the Cidade Alta was my experience in Rio since childhood: sitting in the square, talking with friends, flirting with boys, listen to pagode, having a churrasco (barbecue). It’s all first rate. It’s a joy that becomes palpable,” Corina explains.

Maria Bia says she identifies with the women of Cidade Alta because of also being black and from the periphery – she grew up in Taguatinga, also in Brasília. Beyond vanity, she emphasizes another feature:

“And with them there is no mimimi (whining), right? There’s a girl who I talked to, and I said: “Oh, you go to school far away and transportation is difficult, right?”. Then she replied, ‘Yeah, but it’s worth it.’ Period, she’s already moving up! There’s no way to keep complaining. They don’t victimize themselves. And our characters are like that. There are no bad times for them!”

FEMALE SEXUALITY IN DISCUSSION

And if, more than 10 years ago, the showing of Sex and the City broke standards when dealing with female sexuality without sexism and free from prejudice, Sexo e as negas will bring the discussion to Brazil. Somewhat more modestly, of course.

“I’ll do it within the possibilities of free access TV, right? Although it’s at eleven at night, we have restrictions that cable TV doesn’t have. I have to do some gymnastics to deal with some issues,” Falabella account.

Actresses with series' creator Miguel Falabella

Actresses with series’ creator Miguel Falabella

But the performers are excited and say that sometimes they take it upon themselves to face the taboos of society in which they grew up.

“I’m doing a job as an actress to be able to look at all of this without judging, without prejudice, simply handing myself over and defending my character and this story. Because she is real and beautiful,” admits Karin. “I think the series comes to kick this sexist view that one has of women. Of thinking that we have to sit at the bar and only talk about dresses and shoes. These women ask their friends gave it up today, how it was, if the guy came, if it was good…They talk about all subjects. And they are mothers, grandmothers, they’re warriors, and they have difficulties in love, because a woman is woman anywhere in New York or in the Cidade Alta.

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The four show themselves to be somewhat apprehensive about the possible embarrassment on the part of the public, but believe it’s important to address the issue.

“I sincerely hope that people aren’t shocked by something that is part of everyday life for everyone. But nobody talks about sex, right? It seems like nobody does … We want, in the series, to talk about life with freedom and without prejudice. And this is all very criticized since we‘re speaking openly,” Lilian complains.

But they laugh remembering that sometimes even they are surprised at receiving the scripts with scenes of the characters.

1“Another day came one in which Zulma said: ‘Você não me comeu, quem te comeu fui eu. Quem tem a boca sou eu’ (You didn’t eat/fuck me, it was me who ate/fucked you. The one with the mouth is me) (2). I couldn’t even say it right (laughs). I even asked the guy who I was with, ‘Do you believe I’m going to say this in the series?’. And he told me: ‘But I’ve heard that a lot.’ And I was shocked! I asked: ‘Are you serious, women say this?’ Well, then let’s work to introject this then!” Karin says laughing.

Maria Bia says the sex scenes, of course, are recorded very carefully by the director Cininha de Paula. And she delivers some details:

“We will pay homage to the great sex scenes of cinema! Of course it will have many new things, but it will also have reference.”

Each episode of Sex e as negas will have a theme as the base. The premiere, about mobility, begins with Jesuína telling how her arrival to Cidade Alta was, starting from the evictions from Morro do Pinto – the starting point for a chronic problem of transportation in the city of Rio. But the subject will have other ramifications in the story: if mobility is bad, one ends up knowing all the nearby men and limiting your love life … the girls then gather some money and decide to buy a car to hang out with more freedom.

Among the topics is hair (“Every woman suffers from two things. Men and hair are our two biggest problems,” says Karin), detachment and prejudice. There are serious things and humorous. Everything mixed together.

It’s a humorous series, but we play on important issues that should be discussed. We talk about not only of the racial prejudice, but also the social, to which people are subjected daily. With the difference that we speak with humor, so that it reaches the viewer in a playful manner. Because I think that’s how we transform people. It’s interesting to have another black series on television,” Falabella opines.

The quartet agrees:

“It’s very cool that a black girl looks and thinks, ‘they got there, I can also be a protagonist.’ It’s a reference you almost never see on TV. That you can wear cabelo black (natural black hair), that crespo (kinky/curly) is beautiful, and that doesn’t need to be straightened, and that you can be on TV. They want to see themselves, identify themselves,” Maria Bia defends.

MUSICAL SKILLS ON THE SCREEN

All talented singers, the quartet performs various songs according to the theme of each episode

All talented singers, the quartet performs various songs according to the theme of each episode

Basically unfamiliar faces of the TV public – except for Karin, who was in the 2011 novela Aquele Beijo, Pé na cova and was part of the group Rouge – the four are experienced actresses in musical theater and “exceptional singers” in the words of Falabella. To take advantage of the girls’ talents, the author not only used them to sing the theme song of the series, but also included a music video at the end of each episode, with a song that deals with the subject of the night.

If in the interval between interview and photos for Revista da TV (magazine) they were already loosing their voices, you can imagine that the set of Sex e as Negas is very musical. The four are keen to define themselves as singers before anything, but say that the experience has been enriching on TV.

The quartet has been known for a long time: Maria, Corina and Karin were already together in some musicals, including in Hairspray, of Falabella himself, interpreting the Dinamites, a trio of black female singers inspired by the Marvelettes. Lilian, who was part of the musical trio Sublime, in the 1990s, never got to work with the others but, as Corina says, “in the midst of musical theater everyone knows each other.”

“And I even get famous because of Karin Hils, right? People come to say: “Wow, I saw you in Hair, you were great!” But it was she who did that…Now that we’re appearing together I think that they will notice, right?” Lilian jokes.

The climate of friendship linking Soraia, Zulma, Tilde and Lia overflowed on the screen, according to them. The four live to go out together and to set up a Whatsapp group to communicate more easily. It’s this relationship of friendship, indeed, that is the greatest similarity between Sexo e as Negas and Sex and the City for them. Although Lilian and Karin have not seen the American production, Maria and Corina were devotees of Carrie and company. But they swear they don’t have that classic craze of fans of the series of identifying with a specific character.

“I have a little of each: a romantic side, but at the same time, a piece of Samantha, of seeing a guy that I like and going after him,” defines Corina.

Maria says:

“I identify with the four; I think every woman is this, many in one. There are days when we’re more periguete (3), there are days that we’re a little more romantic,” she jokes.

Notes

1. Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. “Fanon and Capécia” in Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives, edited by Anthony C. Alessandrini. 1999, Routledge.

2. In Brazilian Portuguese, the verb “comer” literally means “to eat”, but in slang terminology it also means to engage in sexual intercourse, or, in more explicit terms, “fuck”.

3. A woman who dresses like a prostitute; a woman who offers herself; a vadia (bitch); vagabunda (slut); a woman who does not value herself; somewhat reminiscent of the term “hoochie” used in African-American communities. A periguete is a girl who goes to the clubs or parties to have fun, dance, drink and be with several guys at the same time; a party girl; term also carries a certain stereotype in terms of how this woman speaks, walks and behaves. A number of articles on the blog have references to the periguete type.

Source: O Globo

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This entry was posted on September 10, 2014 by in media, Rio de Janeiro and tagged , , , , , , .
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