RIP Rogéria. Forever a star, shining from the whole universe.
I’ve loved Rogéria ever since I was a young boy. I grew up in Brazil in the ‘80s, at a time when anything queer was taboo. Rogéria was my first reference to something beautiful, different, exotic and yet cheerful, proud and celebrated by everyone. For the longest time, I’d wanted to photograph Rogéria, and after more than a year pursuing her, we were able to finally schedule a date. You can’t imagine how excited I was. Rogéria’s a busy lady, but it was all worth it; when she arrived, she was lovelier, more intelligent, entertaining and fabulous than I could’ve ever imagined. Stunning, sharp tongued, courageous and inspiring. The ultimate icon to all trans and gay Brazilians. Through the years, Rogéria has gathered many compliments, and above all her talent has captivated the hearts and minds of Brazil for over 50 years.
“I AM THE TRANSVESTITE FOR THE BRAZILIAN FAMILY.”
Rogéria, (née Astolfo Barroso Pinto) was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1943. Ironically, in Brazil, the word pinto is commonly used slang for male genitalia and Rogéria very proudly speaks of having kept hers intact. Her macho brother, who is also her best friend, still calls her by her childhood nickname Tolfo, just so she doesn’t lose sight of where she came from. Deep inside, she never feels like a woman, “I don’t have a woman’s soul.” Instead, she has as she says, “the mind of a woman.” At the age of 15, Tolfo was an excellent soccer goalie, but, he gave up on a possibly brilliant sports career to become Rogéria. He tried on a wedding dress and quickly realized that he preferred a different kind of audience; and most importantly, she would much rather play with two balls, than just one. Rogéria is a legend, inspiring numerous Brazilian songwriters, performing all over the world and befriending lots of powerful people along the way including Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, Jean Paul Belmondo, Zizi Jeanmaire and Lauren Bacall . She won innumerous awards including a Mambembe, Brazil’s equivalent to the TONY award, for her theater work.
Rogéria started in show business doing hair and make-up for some of the most famous actresses of her time. Soon enough, encouraged by the troop of actresses, she began performing and became a total sensation. Since then, Rogéria has lent her talent to hundreds of Theater plays and musicals, movies, soap operas and samba parades. And she’s been a judge on some of the most popular TV shows. A fascinating subject, she’s been interviewed by the most important journalists in Brazil. Along the way, she spent almost a decade traveling the world and performing in cities throughout Portugal and Spain; in Paris at the Moulin Rouge and the Carrousel, Tehran and New York among many others.
Nowadays, audiences can see her playing a caring mother and grandmother in an acclaimed soap opera Lado a Lado on the largest Brazilian TV network, TV Globo. Her character doesn’t take no for an answer - and neither does Rogéria. During the military dictatorship she says she kept her mouth shut when needed but had to fight for her right to perform and won the battle. She attributes her determination to her family’s constant love and support. For example, at the age of 12, her aunt saw her wearing a yellow skirt and told Rogéria’s mother about it. Instead of harsh words, her mother simply asked, “Why did you let your aunt see you?” And then she sent tween Rogéria to the movies, where she saw on numer- ous occasions Marilyn Monroe’s How to Marry a Millionaire.
According to legend, during the 60’s, Rogéria actually found her millionaire boyfriend. But unexpectedly, he went from macho man to cry baby as soon as he got dumped by the Brazilian goddess. She simply wasn’t interested in his money. She’d met the love of her life: a dark skinned man she called Preto. They met during Carnaval in Rio, and according to her, she fainted when they first kissed. She was deeply in love. For Rogéria this involves orgasms, having an exquisite pain in her heart and tears running down her face—all at the same time. Rogéria and Preto were together for 5 years and are friends to this day. During their courtship, they lived with her family because her mother wouldn’t let them move out. The relationship fizzled out when Preto asked her to commit the ultimate sin in a performer’s life: choose between show business and their relationship. The answer was clear. She was born an artist and even the love of her life couldn’t keep her away from the stage.
Two major passions and many passionate lovers - some famous, some secret; others, just regular guys - and several decades later, Rogéria prefers to live by herself in order to avoid her lovers’ jealousy. The common ground between all of them is their large cocks. Rogéria is a proud “size queen” and tells me about one of her lovers who sports a ten incher. He’s 32 and they’ve been lovers since he was 19. Another one of her lovers, a 28 year-old sweet-faced man, had an orgasm, just by looking at her. Did her sexual drive change over time? Nowadays, she says, “I don’t need to have an orgasm every day, a few times a week is enough”. Intercourse is not part of Rogéria’s repertoire anymore. And also, don’t try to kiss her and be all romantic in bed; she already gets plenty of love from her adoring fans. In bed she likes the look of disdain on her lover’s face. It is the key to her orgasm.
Rogéria claims not to have had any work done. A car accident in 1981 left her with a visible scar on her face, but that did not stop her- a month after the accident she was back on stage. When I asked her if she had breast implants, she was offended and made me touch them, and to my delight, proceeded to smooch them right into my face. Rogéria has achieved what she always wanted: to be defined and respected for her talent. Her charisma and joie de vivre have also greatly permeated everything she does. Whenever she steps out into the streets, hoards of fans, from old ladies who comment on her hair (and declare their adoration) to married men who ask about her perfume so they can buy the same one to their wives, want to take a photograph with Rogéria. And, unlike other celebrities, she always and gladly says yes, with her exuberant smile. She’s so welcoming and we all love her for it. I asked Rogéria to define herself, and she simply replied, “I am the transvestite for the Brazilian family.” I don’t have words to describe what I experienced the day of our shoot. Rogéria posed, danced, sang, told stories, entertained and performed for the crew. I wish the whole world could have been with us; I’m sure it would’ve made the world a better place. All I can humbly do is share these images with you and hope that in some way, they honor the talent of one of the most inspiring and greatest beauties I’ve ever met.
Rogéria passed away in September 2017. Images and text originally published in Candy Magazine.
The whole world smiles with you.