Carioca slang – 1957

Going through an October 1957 edition of Careta, I found an article on the following slang of the era (some of which I’ve added photos to).


  • Coca-cola (cheap collective taxis)
  • Fominhas (mini buses)
  • Caraduras (cheap trolleys)
  • Taiobas (trolleys with different fares)
  • Calhambeque (old car)
  • Rabo de Peixe (Cadillac)
  • Tintureiro (police wagon for the imprisoned)
  • Rabeção (hearse)
  • Mãe carinhosa (ambulance)
  • Vaca leiteira (milk truck)
  • Andorinha (moving truck)
  • Filhos de Maria (blue & white buses)
  • Camões (an allusion to the Portuguese poet who was blind in one eye)


  • Gostosões (modern and smooth)

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  • Sinfonia inacabado (‘without a head’)


  • Papa-filas

15 - Papa-filas Grassi


  • Bola de Noiva (Edifício Mayapan on Av. Almirante Barroso, 91)


  • Balança mas não cai ( apartment complex on Av. Presidente Vargas, 2007)


  • Tem Nêgo Bêbo Aí (Edifício Marquês de Herval on Av. Rio Branco, 185)


  • Gaiola de Ouro (Câmara Municipal at Praça Floriano)


  • Marmiteiro (laborer)
  • Maria Condelária (government official)
  • Barnabé (humble servant)
  • Parasita (retired but still able to work)
  • Tubarão (successful business man)
  • Bôas Vidas (city councilor)
  • Pais da Pátria (members of parliament)
  • Chefão / Manda-Chuva (President)
  • Gafanhotas (military)
  • Panela de Pressão (night guard)
  • Cardial (special police)
  • Meganha (military police)
  • Cosme e Damião (MPs in pairs)
  • Olheiro (car attendent)
  • Papa-defunto (funeral agent)


  • Getulinho (‘tostão’)
  • Filipeta / Japonesa (1 cruzeiro)
  • Cachorro (5 cruzeiros, according to bet-takers)
  • Coelho (10 cruzeiros, for bet-takers)
  • Perú (20 cruzeiros…)
  • Galo (50 cruzeiros…)
  • Vaca (100 cruzeiros…)
  • Abobrinas (modern bills worth 1,000 cruzeiros)


  • Poeira (cheap movie)
  • Mata-ratos (cigarette)
  • Pasquim (newspaper w/o asking price)
  • Buxo (ugly woman)
  • Panamás (big scandals)
  • Mamata (easy job)
  • Pistolão (the ease of getting a Mamata)

Careta Oct 1957 Careta Oct 1957 p2

Pasmado Hill – Making room for the rich


The Pasmado Tunnel connects Botafogo with Copacabana and Urca, passing through Pasmado hill. Construction started in 1947 and ended in 1952. The city, at the time, had horrible transit problems due to a surge in car ownership, which resulted in traffic congestion and accidents. The Lacerda government decided to relieve some of the pressure by making the tunnel. What ended up shortening travel time for those with enough money also meant increasing travel time for those with no money.

Following the opening of the tunnel, a small slum on top of the hill, known as the Favela do Pasmado, began to really grow in size, but by early 1964 it was removed and the space would be turned into a park and lookout point (which still exists).

Once the forced removal was complete (see images below), firefighters lit a controlled fire to burn any semblance of what existed before (a “purification by fire”, if you will). In total, 3,900 residents – or 887 families – were forced out and moved to the “projects”, mostly to Bangu. What was promised to them by the government, as incentive to accept the move, hadn’t become reality in October of ’64, as can be seen in this image saying they merely went from one favela to another.

Keep in mind, the post-removal fire is the opposite of what happened a few years later at Praia do Pinto in Leblon, which first was burned to the ground, then the residents were removed.

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If you’re interested in a good academic read on this favela removal, go here (PT). For the general wave of removals that happened in the 60s, there’s a promising 2013 documentary called Remoção out there but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be released publicly at any point. Below is the trailer.

The Pasmado tunnel, by the way, is also famous for a 1968 film starring singer Roberto Carlos, in which he passes through in a small helicopter.

Life of a female factory worker – 1941

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In a 1941 edition of Revista da Semana, I discovered a slice of life piece on Rio’s female factory workers, which includes a short interview with one such lady. At the bottom, one can find the original. 

Between six and seven in the morning the trams arrive full into the city and the factory neighborhoods. The trains from Central Station pass by quickly, and on them thousands and thousands of people travel standing up, due to the accumulation of people who wish to get to work on time. In both primary and secondary means of transport, there are large numbers of young, Carioca female factory workers.

Early on, not long after having left behind the cheerful days of infancy and schooling, these young women start to intensely experience the fight for life, to earn one’s daily bread with the sweat of one’s own face. They aren’t familiar with the ease of life nor with the laziness of days spent reading a novel or relaxing during a walk in the forest. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and the rest of the working week are all the same for them. They leave home in a hurry, get on the tram or train, traveling almost always in discomfort and they go to the stores, the offices, the factories or to the sweet shops. They are always waiting for their Prince Charming, of the Delly or Ardel type, who never comes.

The woman today works all over. This is one of the biggest contemporary realities. The Revista da Semana wanted to focus on a quick story about the life of one of these factory workers in Rio de Janeiro. It isn’t the kind of life that differs from the others, on the contrary. It also has its bitterness and its distractions, its sadness and its happiness. And there’s a good matinee at the Encantado or Madureira cinema, in which one can see Henri Garat or Dorothy Lamour. And one day the definitive boyfriend comes along. It isn’t the Prince Charming conjured up in the calming romance novels, but rather a work colleague, a flatmate, or the brother of a female friend.

At last, this is how life is. Dreams only exist because they don’t come true, otherwise they wouldn’t be dreams.

The female characteristic which one can most easily find in the working woman is vanity. They all get dolled up, carefully brushing their hair, looking just right, never forgetting a woman’s common chores. That’s why we said just prior — the young women who work are just like other young women.

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Norma works in one of the hundreds of factories in Rio, one of the thousands of factories in Brazil.

RS – What kind of things do you like to read, Norma?

N – Romance novels and newspapers made for young people. I don’t know anything about war, I never did, nor do I want to. Besides, Yugoslavia is a difficult word and I don’t even know where Greece is. In terms of newspapers, I only like those that have stories about Zé Mulambo or Tarzan.

RS – Do you like to live in the suburbs?

N – No, and I still have yet to meet any young woman that likes living in the suburbs. It seems like romance novelists and poets go around complimenting the suburbian girl, but we would prefer to be from other places and not get those compliments. Though with the guys it’s different. Most of them really like the suburbs.

RS – And the movies, Norma?

N – Movies are the most wonderful thing in the world. We love movies above all else that exists. A lot of people would commit suicide if there were no more movies. Circuses are also good because of the orchestra at the front before the show starts.

RS – Do you date?

N – No. We talk a lot and once in a while with different guys, but we don’t date. Dating, for us, is very dangerous.

RS – Have you been to Corcovado, Sugarloaf, Copacabana or Santa Tereza?

N – No, no, no and no.

RS – And Paquetá?

N – Yes! Lots of times, for delicious picnics. Oh, how it’s nice!

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This quick talk happened at the Encantado station, while waiting for a train to arrive. All of a sudden, a tram appeared. Norma and her colleagues didn’t get on at the wagon in front of us, but they ran down to get in another that was further back.

RS – Why didn’t you get on the other, Norma?

N – Because we bought second-class tickets.

One of the girls who was in her company said, sadly, “We’re poor travel companions, aren’t we?”

For the first time we were melancholic, as those women thought that traveling second-class was a huge difference and that we took ‘notice’ of the fact. We could give them philosophic lessons to prove that these external things aren’t important. But what better response is there than the palpitable truth?

RS – Well, girls. We, too, are traveling in second-class!

10-05-41 P1                        10-05-41 P2

Cariocas kissing in cars – 1935


Going through the 1930s archives of Careta magazine, I found the short article below which struck me for the image of Carioca couples freely sitting in their cars at lookout points in Rio for some face time. Since air-conditioning didn’t exist, I imagine they did this with their windows down and not, ahem, paying much attention to their surroundings.

Throughout the years I’ve spent studying historical Rio, I’ve always sort of wondered when the city became violent, and my instinct has always told me this happened around the 1950s onward (I’m not alone, by the way).

In the image above, one can get an idea of what kind of cars the author might have been talking about. As a bonus, here’s a racing site (and its PDF backup) showing images of the popular races that took place at the same time as the story below was being written (the Volta da Gávea was one of Brazil’s most popular race tracks). Take special note on the racing site of French woman Hellé Nice, one of the pioneer female race car drivers who was also said to have been the first woman to wear a bikini on the beaches of Rio (though that might have just been a rumor since German Miriam Etz is credited for this in 1948 — a post I’ve been meaning to publish for a while now).

A Smile for All...

“In the sentimental geography of the city, ‘territories of love’ are numerous and very well-known. Even without a compass and a “baedecker” (travel guidebook), any clever tourist will be able to discover them. But Mr. Henrique Pongetti (writer & dramaturge), with a gratuitous and praiseworthy wisdom, made himself the loveable “ciceroni” (tour guide) of sentiments, to happily teach us, not without a certain malice, the roads which in Rio lead to the territories of love. Pointing out to us, with an ironic but serviceable hand, these galant routes, the illustrious writer of chronicles declared that the automobile circuits of Carioca love, the “Volta da Gávea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”, were the everyday greatest testaments.

The Paraizo road, for them starts at the granite throat of Avenida Niemeyer, which seems like the Alighierian gate of Malebolge (eighth gate of hell), but allows — sweet clandestinity decorated in green! — the first fearless kiss from the tongue of the world. I wish to add to the geographic tips of Mr. Henrique Pongetti one more automobile circuit of Carioca love: the “Volta da Lagoa”. With the Avenida Epitacio Pessoa being my daily route into the city, I can give my testimony with authority and conviction: that territory is for love, as well…

Facing the placid mirror of the lake, the green shade of the mountain, in that beautiful landscape that starts at the Fonte da Saudade and ends at the court of Cantagalo — there are many idyllic carefree and happy people, every day! Sometimes, the sun has barely leaned over the green mane of Cantagalo hill to illuminate the lake, and already the cars slip in there, matinal-like, driven by happy couples in love…At midday, when I pass by for lunch, there are cars stopped, in whose cushions, the couples get cozy and kiss assured. Some of them, shy and cautious, hide their faces behind the windshield, in fear of being surprised in the criminal act of happiness. Naive ones! as if love were a sin…

At night, when the first stars jump from the sky to dive into the calm waters of the lake, mysterious cars, with headlights turned off, tranquilly stop in the middle of the deserted and seductive landscape, for a moment of privacy and silence…All these couples that pass by or stop there, from when the sun goes up til the stars come out, are courageous champions of a brilliant automobile circuit of love — of the “Volta da Lagoa”.

It is just a question of Mr Pongetti officializing, in the sentimental tourism guide of the Automobile Club, this new and adorable circuit. I consider it as important and as preferred as the “Volta da Gavea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”… And being that love, in Rio, is a sport for steering wheels, it is legitimate to point out this new route of happiness to lovers of automobilism…”

Documentary Series – Rio Por Eles

The documentary series Rio Por Eles is a different kind of historical and sentimental revival of the city of Rio. In it, viewers will discover how foreign documentarists, reporters and TV broadcasting station saw the city throughout the 20th century. It’s a mostly black & white record of Rio through the eyes of foreigners in different languages.

Directed and scripted by Ernesto Rodrigues, the series is the result of a two year research project through hundreds of foreign sources, in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nine reporters from O Globo will take the viewer through 43 characteristic locations which contextualize more than 200 excerpts from 127 films and televised reports.

The series consists of five 30-minute episodes, which I’ve put in order below: the transformation of the landscape, the political happenings, the interpretation of Brazilian culture, the style & behavior, and finally the tragedies & disasters shown abroad.