By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Following a year of legal wranglings with the Brazilian Tourist Board and a court sentenced four month withdrawal from circulation, the eighth edition of the popular guide book Rio for Partiers was published in January this year.
The image heavy visual travel guide that is described by one Amazon reader as “the equivalent of a personal tour by one of Rio’s own” and by another as a “truly wonderful guide…with plenty of valuable advice”, spent 2009 at the center of controversy regarding the representations of Brazilians in the former edition’s dating section which it was alleged “exposed the Brazilian people to a vexatious situation”.
On January 9th, 2009, the Brazilian Government’s official tourist body Embratur filed a lawsuit against Editora Solcat Ltd, publishers of Rio for Partiers claiming the book encouraged sexual tourism as well as unlawfully using the official Brazil tourism trademark and requested the book be withdrawn from circulation.
Rio for Partiers author, editor and publisher Cristiano Nogueira, a Brazilian national and Rio resident since 2001, received notice when an O Globo journalist called him for a comment: “I laughed. I genuinely thought it was a prank call but within the weekend 110 media outlets had published a story on it”.
Attempted but unsuccessful negotiations followed, and in June 2009 Judge José Luis Castro Rodriguez denied Embratur’s request for the book to be removed while court proceedings were under way. However on August 22nd his decision was overruled by Supervising Judge Salette Maccaloz who ordered the book to be withdrawn from circulation.
For Cristiano, the timing was terrible. “I got the call, again from a journalist asking me to comment, on the Saturday and we were due to send to print on the Monday. We offered to publish without the four pages in question but were denied. Every day advertisers would drop us. For three months, I was basically watching my business die”.
After months of press interviews explaining his position and petitioning to the courts to allow them to publish, Cristiano finally succeeded and on December 18th was granted permission to publish an edition without the controversial section. Entitled ‘How to deal with Brazilian boys/women’, the pages give advice on Brazilian dating culture and describe four main types of each sex.
The section on women has come most under fire, with its categorizations such as ‘The Daddy’s Girl’ (“they look great but they don’t let anyone hit on them”) and ‘The Popozuda’ (“round-butted sex bombs… Good to invest your time on, if you look good and buff too”).
Rio for Partiers 2010 came out on January 11th. Like previous editions, it gives readers exclusive offers and discounts at bars, restaurants and hotels in the city. It also maintains the highly visual format and unique design features like day and night pull out maps, tear out basic Portuguese “cheat sheet” and street price guide that make it a distinctive alternative to the mainstream guide books such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guide.
Another strong distinction, and arguably a cause of the controversy, is the tone of the writing. The voice of Rio For Partiers is singular, casual, upbeat and definitely male with an FHM sense of humor.
For the most part, the information, which is of high quality and quantity throughout, is given in a succinct straightforward manner but there’s strong personality in the writing which author Cristiano explains is a conscious decision: “I wanted it to be like a friend talking to you, almost conversational. The readers are on holiday; I believe the loose friendly tone is ideal.”
While the 2010 edition doesn’t include the dating section, Cristiano is defiant that its content does not encourage sexual tourism and is firm on his position. The current Rio For Partiers has a big banner across the front, “Banned in Brazil… The travel guide the Brazilian Government is trying to censor”, and the dating section has been replaced by two black double pages explaining that they’ve been censored and apologize for the lack of dating tips.
For Cristiano, the right to publish means he’s back in business selling across the city, through Amazon and travel agents internationally, but the fight over the censored content continues. “I want the dating section back. Dating is different here than in the US or Europe and Brazil has always been the sexiest country in the world. It’s part of our culture”.