By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – It has been high on Governor Sergio Cabral’s hit list for several years, but it now looks as if the closing of Copacabana’s most notorious nightclub ‘Help’ is finally confirmed. A recent decision by Judge Camila Novaes Lopes ruled in favor of its compulsory purchase by the State of Rio De Janeiro in winter 2009.
Opened in 1985 by the businessman Chico Recarey, Help’s lavish interior and upper class patronage gained it a reputation among the Carioca playboys as a place to see and be seen. But as Copacabana’s star faded at the end of the 80’s, and the rich and famous moved towards Ipanema and Leblon, so too did Help’s.
Now, what was once the largest nightclub in South America, is possibly the continent’s largest brothel. This is why Governor Cabral is financing it’s compulsory purchase to spearhead a tidying-up campaign of the hard-bitten Copacabana neighborhood, which remains one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.
The plan was first proposed last year, with the idea that the site would be transformed somewhat dramatically into a cultural center as the new Museum of Sound and Vision, but delays and counter-arguments have held the project back. Some of these include the very reasonable consideration that the prostitutes will simply move on to other possibly less safe locations to look for business.
As one girl who wanted to remain nameless put it, “This will do nothing for Copacabana and nothing to stop prostitution. We feel safer at Help than on the streets, but it looks like that is where we will have to go.”
The Governor remains unmoved by such opinions however, and though prostitution remains legal in Brazil, the idea that it is carried out so brazenly and on such a scale in this tourist hot spot appears too great a threat to order in Zona Sul. The 60 day compulsory purchase order has been placed on it, along with a deposit of R$13m, and as such the doors will likely be closing at the end of May.
Nobody was available at club Help to comment.