The seedy world of Carnaval’s backstage: Former performers reveal power relations and sexual harassment in Rio’s biggest party in new book



Note from BW of Brazil: We’ve always heard that whatever happens in Rio, stays in Rio. The Carnaval season recently ended but the curiosity about Rio’s biggest party will never end. While some people look at Carnaval as a great celebration in which one can let their hair down and thing everything go for about a week before it’s time to return to real world and reality of day to day life, for others it involves all sorts of mischief, power moves, big money deals, contracts, sex for pay and other vices that are novelas (soap operas) in themselves. In a previous post, Carnaval dancer revealed how she had received an ‘indecent proposal’ and had to put an overzealous fan in his place. In reality, it’s not surprising that some men approach female performers in this way because with so much flesh on display and the manner that Carnaval dancers are presented (see examples here and here), many will automatically assume that all of the women in this life participate in ‘pay for play’ exchanges. The image and talent of Carnaval women is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion as more and more women want to set the record straight on who they are and what they represent

Over the years, stories connected to Carnaval season have taken on legendary status as many continue to imagine what goes down in Rio while others take steps to make the trip, get involved and discover the truth on their own. The legend of Carnaval is sure to grow with the recent release of a book by two women who lived the Carnaval life for many years. In a sort of exposé, the two reveal some of the things they experienced, including some of the more negative aspects of what goes on behind the scenes of the big party. I imagine this book to be a real page-turner and I will certainly be trying to get my hands on a copy!

Priscila Hirle and Priscila Rosa. Photo: Youtube Play

Cases of sexual harassment at Carnival revealed in book

By Sidney Rezende

The backstages of Carnival have always aroused the curiosity of those who don’t live with the day to day of the most popular party in Brazil. How are the muses, highlights, beauties, and talents of men and women chosen? Why do some get a place in the sun and some don’t? Is there really sexual harassment and power relations between the boss and whoever wants stardom?

Cover of book ‘O Segredo é Você’

Not all of these questions have been answered yet, but certainly the curiosity  is still alive, and so the subject comes back to life from time to time. This is happening once again in early 2017. And this time, because of the book O segredo é Você (the secret is you) released by Priscila Hirle and Priscila Rosa.

But who are the women who decided to open the black box of secrets hidden in the intimacy of those who live and breathe Carnival? And why did they decide to tell everything they know?

The achievements and adversities experienced by both during their time in Rio’s Carnival brought them closer and motivated them to write the book O segredo é Você. The autobiography describes moments of glory, as well as episodes of harassment experienced by both in the middle of Carnival as in other work environments.

The book’s spokespersons say that “the two Priscilla nowadays are dedicated to their professions, take care of their families and encourage other women to overcome difficulties and fight for their dreams.”

The book addresses everyday issues such as self-esteem, beauty, health, envy, racism, machismo and spirituality and aims to inspire other women not to give up on their dreams and achieve success in their personal and professional life. The book’s release and the autograph session was on January 28, at 6:00 pm, in the Livraria Oito Meio bookstore (Travessa dos Tamoios 32, Flamengo).

Excerpts from the book

Priscila Rosa, the porta bandeira of Sagueiro samba school in 2001 Carnaval in Rio


“I was a professional porta-bandeira (flag-bearer), I got to perform that job, I loved it. There are directors, we should not generalize, but the majority, who take advantage of women, especially the younger, promising them a prominent place in the (samba) school. In one of the schools in which I paraded, a leader harassed me insistently, without success. Days later, I started to suffer discrimination in the association. Then I got a call from the secretary of one of the leaders informing me that a person would come to my house to get the flag and that I was disconnected from the school. I’m sure this happened for personal reasons. The following year, I was invited back; I refused.

Priscila Rosa as porta-bandeira of Salgueiro samba school in Rio’s 2000 Carnaval

It’s normal that, with so much time in the samba in Rio de Janeiro, I have witnessed numerous situations in which leaders, rhythm artists and revelers have embarrassed women, observing them as if they were landscape, as if they had no values, principles, or character, measuring them by the size of their clothes. Men who pretended to take pictures and used the opportunity to play the sambistas (samba musicians) and models without permission, who came to dance and leaned against them, repeatedly inviting them to programas (sexual acts for pay) and saying vulgar things. They are people who confuse everything and don’t see that the work of samba artists and models in the samba school has to do with beauty, art and even with sensuality, but not with vulgarity.”

Priscila Hirle


“As Queen of Carnival, I was aware that harassment would be something naturally more common than at any other time in my life. I suffered heavy harassment from wealthy men and some famous men. One of them, an entrepreneur, much older than most men who  frequented this show business world, with a glass of whiskey in his hand, approached me. Suddenly, he tried to grab me impetuously. We were on a dance floor, at a party with movie and TV artists, including foreign personalities. I was happy in that mood, full of nice people, when he attacked me aggressively, trying to force a kiss.

Priscila Hirle at right

I gave him a heavy elbow and walked away, determined to leave the place quickly. A few minutes later, as I was walking out of the hall, a famous pagodeiro (pagode musician) came up and said, “Why did you do this? Get out of here now. You don’t know who you’re messing with. Never come back to this area, you’re at a risk for your life.” I left there with great fear and stayed for a couple of weeks without setting foot outside the house. The staff called me for entertainment, I made up some excuse and stayed quiet at home. I was afraid of dying. I was even paranoid. I thought someone was on the corner waiting for me. Gradually I got rid of the fears, I stopped being afraid.”

The authors

Priscila Rosa, que hoje é jornalista, e Priscila Hirle, médica
Priscila Rosa, today a journalist and Priscila Hirle, a doctor.

Priscila Hirle, 38, is a Carioca (native of Rio) from Marechal Hermes, where she had a humble childhood and adolescence. Dance, one of her vocations, was present in Priscilla’s early life, at the age of seven, when she began ballet and jazz. The experience was an important basis for the beginning of her career in samba. In 2004, even though she had never entered a Carnival group before, she was elected Queen of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

Always very studious, at 15 she began to work as a baby sitter, the year in which she also finished high school in nursing. At 19 she went to medical school. Before graduating, she worked for a long time in figuration of novelas (soap operas), TV series, TV shows and films. She participated as a juror of the contest to choose the queen of the Carnaval bloco Cordão do Bola Preta and the freshman program of Raul Gil, on the Record TV network. In 2005, she graduated in medicine and decided to dedicate herself exclusively to the profession and her family. She has a son and did post-grad work in health auditing, occupational medicine, traffic medicine and psychiatry.

Priscila Rosa, 34, a member of one of the traditional families of samba, began her artistic life early as a child passista (Carnaval dancer) for the Salgueiro samba school. Through Salgueiro she was also porta-bandeira, a position that she later occupied in Portela, Mocidade, União da Ilha and Rocinha samba schools. Priscila began studying jazz and ballet while still a child and performed samba shows at major events.

She has participated in several documentaries about Carnival and samba, has appeared in films and TV programs and has performed several times as a dancer on the old Xou da Xuxa program on Globo TV.

Alongside Valéria Valenssa (the former Globeleza) and dancer/choreographer Carlinhos de Jesus, she was part of the cast of the musical Ela Brasil, which played for six months. She also it acted as model and had a passage in a sports career as a synchronized swimmer. In 2005, she graduated in journalism, is a cake designer and has a son.

Source: SRZD

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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