Rio’s 10 Most Interesting Gringos of 2010

By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In 2010, Brazil elected its first female president, the Cidade Maravilhosa struggled with unusually heavy rainfalls that killed hundreds, a high-profile hostage situation at a luxury hotel, and quite recently, city-wide chaos, and the following violent confrontations between drug traffickers and the police.

Showing resilience and determination, Rio has managed to carry-on gracefully, and continues to show the world that it is in fact a major world city fully deserving of its role in the 2014 World Cup and to host the 2016 Olympics.

Following the tradition started last year, The Rio Times has compiled a list of ten interesting individuals who have made an impact in Rio de Janeiro’s foreign community in 2010.

Paula Walsh with Tim Flear, photo by UK In Brazil.

Paula Walsh with Tim Flear, photo by UK In Brazil.

1. Paula Walsh
With years of experience in the oil and gas industry, and as a commercial officer in Argentina, Paula Walsh took over the role of British Consulate-General, replacing the outgoing Tim Flear in August.

Walsh has assumed big responsibilities at a time when the oil industry has been gaining more importance each day, and the Olympic Games will be handed from London in 2012 to Rio in 2016.

2. Mark Pannell
Appointed as the Consul and Director of Press, Education and Culture at the U.S. Consulate of Rio de Janeiro, Mark Pannell started promoting and celebrating the American cultural heritage. Through various cultural events organized around the city, including the series of pandeiro jazz concerts by the American jazz musician Scott Feiner, and the Toys for Tots campaign launched at an American Football game, Pannell and the Consul General Dennis Hearne have been directing their efforts towards charitable causes, and creating new cultural ties between the two countries.

Lindsay Duval, the President of the American Society of Rio de Janeiro, photo courtesy of AmSoc Rio.

3. Lindsay Duval
The achievements of Lindsay Duval, the President of the The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio), is a key reason why AmSoc Rio is a leading foreign community organization. Her dedication to build and strengthen cross-cultural relationships between the U.S. and Brazil has materialized in acclaimed events such as America’s Day, and Rio’s most raved-about, delicious Thanksgiving Dinner.

4. Mary Crawshaw
As the Chair of the British and Commonwealth Society of Rio de Janeiro (BCS Rio), Mary Crawshaw has led a welfare fund and charities, aside from organizing events that celebrate the British culture, such as the Queen’s Birthday Party. Her efforts and contributions to Rio’s British community have been supported by Jack Woodall, who is the Editor of The Umbrella magazine.

5. Steve Solot
The President of Rio Film Commission, Steve Solot, an American living in Brazil for over twenty years, has been promoting Rio as a prime filming location for foreign productions, and is dedicated to making the city the audiovisual capital of Latin America. The American Day organized as part of the Rio International Film Festival is only one example of his efforts toward building strong relationships between the American and Brazilian filmmakers.

The boxing ring at Fight For Peace, the NGO established by Luke Dowdney, photo by Bira Cavalho.

6. Luke Dowdney
Luke Dowdney, an Englishman and an amateur boxer, has founded the NGO Luta Pela Paz (Fight for Peace) in 2000 in Complexo da Maré, a sprawl of favelas in Rio’s Zona Norte (North zone), in order to provide a realistic alternative for the favela youth tempted by the violence in the streets.

Dowdney has been fighting for peace ever since, both literally and figuratively, overcoming financial burdens, and keeping the doors of his boxing club open, promoting the sport and maintaining a positive presence in the community.

7. Mike Ryan
The Australian owner of the Jazz club TribOz in old Lapa, also known as Centro Cultural Brasil-Austrália (Brazilian-Australian Cultural Center), Mike Ryan espouses the philosophy of “prioritize creativity without preconception” in his endeavors. Principally dedicated to Jazz and Bossa-Nova, TribOz has established itself as an acclaimed venue for performances of both Brazilian and foreign musicians, all within the short time since its inauguration in 2008.

8. Sam Flowers
American-style meals, such as fresh pancakes, sizzling eggs & bacon and meatloaf have made Gringo Café in Ipanema the place to go to satisfy gringo-specific food cravings in Rio, and Sam Flowers is the owner and front man. Aside from satisfying the taste buds of foreigners and Cariocas alike, Sam has also made himself available for anyone thinking about starting a business in Rio.

9. Alex Cutler (a.k.a. MC Don Blanquito)
As a well-educated California native, who has been frequenting the baile funk parties in the most notorious favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the funk musician Blanquito is definitely one of the most controversial gringos in Rio. His road to recognition against all odds in the cutthroat baile funk scene of Rio, however, deserves respect at the very least, and shows that gringos can immerse themselves in local culture with hard work and perseverance.

10. Padraig Flavin
The Irish Pub in Ipanema, which for eight years used to be a popular hangout spot for locals, expats, and tourists alike, has unfortunately closed its doors permanently this year. The owner, Irishman Padraig Flavin, has left a big legacy behind, along with many memories of the good times at the pub that are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.

29 Responses to "Rio’s 10 Most Interesting Gringos of 2010"

  1. Diego  December 29, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    Haha… fala serio..? Don Blanquito is ‘well-educated’..? With such lyrics as ‘desce desce desce’… and semi-naked prostitutes showing their asses in his clips..? Come on…

  2. Diego  December 29, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    You know who should be on this list..? The guys who made the documentary ‘Dancing With The Devil’ – the best film i have seen about Rio de Janeiro. For gringos, their local knowledge of the city is incredible and their research very solid.

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  4. Abeline  December 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Dancing With The Devil was directed by Jon Blair, but I think he lives in the United States. I believe the person has to live in Rio to be on the list. BTW, where can you see this movie in Rio?

  5. ricardo  December 30, 2010 at 7:12 AM

    @Diego- Where does this envy come from? What does most funk talk about? “Desce, Senta, Rebola!” Entao, fala serio voce. Meu Deus.

  6. ricardo  December 30, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    Abeline- Great movie, realistic too! You can buy it at any bootlegger in Uruguiana or Lojas Americanas perhaps.

  7. Tracy Alexander  December 30, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Why dont you guys write real news about Rio instead of such exagerated american slanted crap? Do you actually live in Rio???

  8. Diego  December 31, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    Abeline – you can either buy a pirated copy at Uruguiana for R$5 (or 3 for R$10)… or watch in on You Tube (in 8 parts) –

    I haven’t heard of its cinema release though…

  9. Kris  December 31, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Although it’s understandable why he is not included on the list, I nominate Stone Korshak, the publisher of the Rio Times. This year he”s made a significant impact on the Rio de Janeiro English language news, social networking , and business scene. Parabens !

  10. Judy H  January 1, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    We could expect no less from Don Blanquito.

  11. Diego  January 1, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Ricardo – Because as a college-educated American, he should have a better sense of decency than someone raised in the favela (which isn’t a criticism of anyone raised in a favela… but a criticism of a broken education system in Brazil / Rio).

  12. Ricardo  January 2, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    @Diego- Funk is being played for people in the favela’s for the most part and what is indecent about the music blanquito puts out? Dude, kill yourself!

  13. Diego  January 3, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    I realize who funk is primarily played for (i.e. people in the favela)… so what’s your point..? Is your friend Don from a favela..? No, i didn’t think so. What’s indecent about his music..? How about the naked girls he pays… to pretend that they’re horny and to pretend that they actually care about his music..? I like funk… but a gringo trying to sing funk just doesn’t work for me… i’m sorry. It’s equal to a white guy trying to grow dreads and sing reggae… it’s just fake…

  14. Ricardo  January 3, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    There is nothing fake about it, it’s just different. He doesn’t sing gangster funk, it’s sexual for the most part, which is what funk is. You don’t know dude, have probably never met or seen him, yet have so much to say about him. Ignorance man! You think that 99% of any music video produced here or in the US doesn’t have “paid” woman to dance etc. Get real man!

  15. Diego  January 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Clearly, women are paid to be in film clips… i do realize that (thanks). I guess my problem is that to me, it seems kind of exploitative… just another gringo coming to Brazil and throwing money at a morena to take off her clothes… kind of sad, really.

  16. Jonathon  January 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Sounds like “Ricardo” might actually be Alex Cutler (aka Don Blanquito)?

    If he loves funk so much and hasn’t got himself shot, then do what you love man… whether it be “for the people” or more likely for some fame.

    He’s like the Vanilla Ice of hip hop, faking it up.

  17. hashid  January 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    BLAnquito é lixo e tenho dito.
    Só faz sucesso no Programa da Luciana GImenez que fica lá em SP aki no RJ ele não pia nada , não se faz , saindo da rocinha , não é ninguem ….. nunca ouvi um Rap dele nem no rádio , nem nos bailes , só conheço do tal Superpop , fora isso nunca vi nem ouvi ….
    Yanke go home …..

  18. hashid  January 3, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    BLAnquito is a garbage and I have been saying.
    Only be successful in the Program of Luciana GImenez who stays there in SP aQUIi in the Rio de Janeiro he does not cheep at all, does not become, going out from the rocinha, is not anybody … .. I never heard his Rap not even in the radio, do nor dance us, only I know of such a Superpop, it had been that I never saw, did not hear.
    Yanke go home …..

  19. ricardo  January 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    @Jonathan- Everyone needs to do what they love, life is short and he is an example of someone who realizes that.
    @Hashid- Voce e um pela saco irmao. Brincadeira. Geral no mundo de funk sabe quem ele e, e voce tambem para saber sobre as programas que ele participa e os bailes que ele vai, coisas que nem eu sabia que sou fan.. Hhaah voces sao muito recalcados. E outra coisa, aprende falar Ingles.
    @Diego- Fala a verdade, ta afim de pegar o don blanquito ne, pode falar a verdade..Meu Deus otario, sai do armario um dia e tenta viver a vida.

  20. Diego  January 4, 2011 at 6:04 AM

    Whatever, Ricardo. I already said that i like funk, i just don’t like him. Although Brazilian funk artists are also exploitative in how they treat women, i can recognize that it’s an unfortunate aspect of their upbringing in the favela – so i can try to overlook it a little… and enjoy the music for the beat and rhythm at least.

    But when some upper-class gringo comes here to try and act like some pimp, it really irritates me. And no, Ricardo, it’s not like i’m targeting him specifically – but in general, i have a serious problem with the number of gringos who come to Brazil for the wrong reasons.

    If our friend Don tried to pay some girls from Leblon or Barra to appear in this clips, he would get a slap in the face. Hence, he selects some destitute favela girls who are desperate and are willing degrade themselves for the extra cash.

  21. Diego  January 4, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    (But anyway, re-reading the actual headline – it’s the most INTERESTING gringos and NOT the most IMPORTANT gringos… so yeah, regardless of his talent or lack thereof, Don definitely is quite a controversial character…).

  22. Dan  February 26, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    To me, this list is really two lists: the most interesting gringos, and the most influential.

    Tom Philips & Douglas Engle were there correspondents who developed the sources, acquired the footage for Dancing w the Devil. They live in Rio and I am sure their time will come to be honored as “interesting gringos”…

    As for Don Blanquito, Diego, you make too many assumptions. How do you know the girls were paid? How do you know they are all “destitute”? I happen to know something about the making of that video, and 1) the girl who most men like best in the video is not “destitute” she lives in a middle class neighborhood in the zona sul 2) I don’t believe most of the girls, if any, were paid. They were friends, doing a favor. Go to a baile-funk. The type of dancing that you find so radical and exploitative is actually very commonplace. It’s the norm, actually.

  23. James Valouch  March 14, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    I notice that you remove comments you don’t want posted. Clearly, this is not a free press.

  24. Publisher  March 14, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    The Rio Times is moving towards a policy of moderating comments more closely to ensure we are not publishing profanity, racial slurs, and more recently – blatant slander. Many mayor news companies have adopted this approach, as there is very little redeeming quality in personal attacks on a news site.

    We will soon provide a more clear policy on comments, in the meantime, please vote on the issue here:

    Thank you for your interest and support.

    The Rio Times

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