n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..

Troca-troca # 4: Dzi Croquettes & Ney Matogrosso

Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.
Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.
Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

"[...] Another clear marker of change in the early 1970s was the appearance in 1972 of the group Dzi Croquettes, lead by Lennie Dale, an American choreographer and dancer who lived in Brazil for a number of years. What was novel about the group’s undeniably camp dance, song and text was the fact that unlike the drag shows popular in the theatre district of Rio de Janeiro (Cinelandia and Praça Tiradentes), the Croquettes, were “baritone-voiced men decorated with glitter and make-up [who] projected male virility yet wore feminine accoutrements… [Their] camp humour inverted all standards of normative sexual roles, upsetting traditional gender markings and representations of masculinity” (Green 1999: 257). Trevisan (1986: 119) provided a colourful description of the group:


"Moustachioed and bearded men appeared in women’s clothes and false eyelashes, wearing, football stockings with high-heeled shoes and brassieres over hairy chests. Neither men nor women-or rather exaggerated men and women-they danced and told double-edged jokes in an attempt to break through the noose of repression which censorship and the police drew round the slightest deviation from what was permissible in the period of the dictatorship."

The Croquettes had enormous popularity and influence during the existence as a group. But their appeal could be felt long after their demise, in shows ranging from music concerts to plays and also in the social arena, in such areas as fashion and youth behaviour (reflecting their promotion of drug use and sexual experimentation). In James Green\s apt summation (1999: 257), the success of Dzi Croquettes reflected the existence o |abroad social acceptance among middle class audiences for provocative portrayals of gender roles and identities”.

The stamp of the Croquettes is seen in another significant instance of the importation into Brazil of the “gender-fucking” vogue of early 1970s San Francisco, London and Amsterdam. Ney Matogrosso burst onto the scene in 1973 as lead singer of the ground-breaking band Secos e Molhados.

Going on a solo career in 1975, Ney was the first major Brazilian singer to speak openly about his homosexuality. His shows, like those of the Dzi Croquettes, always a magnet for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, also attracted a large number of open-minded heterosexuals who were intrigued by the singer’s falsetto voice and his show’s daring originality. A master of ambiguity, Ney brought to his performances a theatricality seldom seen before in Brazilian music halls, with blocking and choreography combining with visual components (lighting, make-up, wardrobe and accessories) to create a striking celebration of androgyny"

Extract from Tentative Transgressions: Homosexuality, AIDS, and the Theater in Brazil. By Severino João Medeiros Albuquerque, Published by Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004