Monday, 13 October 2014

1959 Maysa in Paris & Miss Brazil in the USA

Maysa in a pensive mood looking over the River Seine in Paris where she went into hiding after being a media star in Brazil for a couple of years. Among other things Maysa said Miss Brazil 1959 was not even beautiful even though Vera Ribeiro got to be the 4th runner up to the Miss Universe title in Long Beach, California. Maysa was right in the sense that Vera Ribeiro was a bit wishy-washy as come to Brazilian beauties. She was fair and had a protruding mouth. But she was immensely friendly and cheerful which put her on step ahead in a game like Miss Brazil.

Maysa had other troubles. The bottle was her main issue and she knew that. Reporter Afranio Brasil Soares writes to Brazilian weekly 'O Cruzeiro' in early July 1959

Maysa was close to fat, She knew she was at a sort of cross road and she thought that staying a time in Paris it would bring her some sort of well being she could see falling away.

The Panther visits Paris 

“I came to Paris to stay with the ‘mes’ of myself”, repeats Maysa to those who ask her what she’s doing in Paris.  

Maysa, actually stays the whole day in her apartment at Hotel de la Trémoille, hosting the Brazilian community who live in France, French performers and writing her dairy of her trip that begins like: 

"To flee from life and everything that is real, to dreams and colours, to forget that I have a past and that I have to face a future is my constant obsession".

It’s only when night is well on its way that the Panther Woman, as she portrayed  herself to a French journalist, leaves her den always accompanied by one of two friends who take turn and cheperone her through the Light City.   

She then goes to bars and basements in Saint German des Près, Pigalle or Montparnasse where she adds as few more doses  of whiskey on top of the already 2 full bottles she’s been drinking everyday.  

La Louisiana is Maysa’s favourite basement. She calls it her ‘cavern’. Maysa stays there until early dawn talking about her ‘with-mes’ or just silent for a long stretch of time. 

When she leaves the basement she goes all alone to the Seine’s kay and watches its waters flow until day breaks. 

I’ve got a strong desire to throw myself into the Seine. 

In one of Maysa’s wanderings through the quay she met a tramp (clochard) with whom she drank wine and to whom she sang some of her repertoire. Maysa translated the words of her songs to the French tramp and by the morning as he went his way, he raised up his cup and said: To you who understands life. 

Maysa has left the hotel only four times since she arrived. The first time she went in a round of visits to French radio & TV stations when she gave a few interviews. Next time she visited Brazil’s first lady Sarah Kubitschek and sang to her daughters Marcia and Maristela in a private audition. Then Maysa went to the inauguration of Casa do Brasil at Cité Universitaire and regretted that they did not serve whiskey. Finally, Maysa agreed to walk in the vicinities of her hotel to have some photos taken by ‘O Cruzeiro’s photographer Helder Martins for this article.

Maysa felt her first sad moments even before the plane touched down at Orly. She was still on board approaching Paris when she heard a programme on Radio Difusion Française in which she was being talked saluted and she wept when she heard 'Ouça' being played. Maysa grumbles that she's got a wistfulness inside she can't explain. 

She can’t explain how she loves loneliness but at the same time she hates to live by herself. Maysa repeated the statement which was so controversial in Brazil: that she wishes she had been born a black man, ugly and dumb.  She is terrified of flying insects. She’s even afraid of a fly. She doesn’t remember a single day she woke up happy. She keeps re-living her difficult moments. She still dwells upon the fact that the very first time she sang at Radio Mayrink Veiga in Rio de Janeiro the whole auditorium got up and left. 

She doesn't have one single female friend. That's why she prefers male friends. She's got an ear for 'complicated' people and she thinks she understand them. The thinks normal people are uninteresting people. She thinks vulgar people are an annoyance. She says extroversion is a kind of introversion. Each time she attempted suicide she thought she had finally 'discovered herself'. 

Her future is the next dose of whiskey and her past was the last one she took. She measures the day by whiskey doses. There are 23-dose days, sometimes a 27-dose-day and even 36-dose days even though she never bothers to count. 

She's thinking about throwing a party to her Parisian friends and she plans to start it backwards from the end to the beginning. She has a dream of traveling around the world accompanied by Charles Chaplin or one of the Little Tramp's mongrels. She thinks there are a few good things to do in Paris: leaning against a light post by a corner is one of them. She avows she would never jump off the Eiffel Tower. 

Maysa still doesn't know where she'll go when she'll get tired of her Parisian holidays. If she won't try her 29th suicide attempt she'll probably go to Cannes, Saint-Tropez or Venice. She might even go to Rome. She's signed to perform at Estoril Casino in Portugal for a fortnight but she's not sure whether she'll honour the contract. She's supposed to return to Brazil at the end of July or August but she may return any time if homesickness will trap her.

'O Cruzeiro' 16 July 1959.

Maysa and radio DJ Walter Silva at the cover of Radiolandia - 27 July 1959. Walter was the man who took Maysa around to radio stations and introduced her to Rio de Janeiro's DJs in 1956. 

Vera Ribeiro, Miss Brazil 1959 in Long Beach, California 

Vera Ribeiro receives Luz Marina Zuluaga the previous year Miss Universe at her hotel room. See how graceful Vera was in her way of paying tribute to the most beautiful woman in the Universe 1958. on the right: Vera shows her curves like those of a Spanish guitar while Miss Sweden & Miss USA play with a ball. 

'O Cruzeiro' was the best selling weekly magazine in the country since the 1940s. The issue of 18 July 1959 was colourful due to the Miss Universe 1959 pageant photos; vice-president Jango (João Goulart) tells all to up-and-coming journalist Carlos Castello Branco, as Marshall Lott and presidential candidate Janio Quadros had already done.   

Miss Brazil 1959 may not have been a raging beauty but she was very sweet as her dolls prove.