At the Livraria Cultura bookstore on Paulista Avenue, a waiter circulated with champagne on a recent Monday evening as a line formed in front of Gabriela da Silva, 22, who had come to launch her first book, “The Pleasure Is All Ours,” written under the pseudonym Lola Benvenutti.
It is the story of her life as a prostitute — decorated with graphic descriptions of sexual acts, including rendezvous with couples in the “love motels” found scattered throughout Brazil — and also something of a manifesto for sexual freedom, written like a self-help guide.
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Brazil has a very sexually active population, said Carmita Abdo, coordinator of the sexuality studies program at the University of Sao Paulo.
Just 8 percent of Brazilian women and 3 percent of men have no sex, according to a 2008 survey Abdo conducted for Brazil’s Ministry of Health.
“We are a people recognized for a lot of sexuality.
In an interview the day after the launch, she drew a distinction between her book and a 2006 novel by former prostitute Raquel Pacheco, later made into the hit Brazilian movie “Bruna Surfistinha.” “The way it was presented was about the prostitute as a victim, who suffers,” da Silva said. I do everything to have pleasure.” Da Silva said Brazilian society has a problem with female sexuality.
“Men make this distinction: A woman who has sex on the first night can’t be taken seriously,” she said.
“Women are raised not to have orgasms.” Brazilian women such as she are increasingly challenging these notions.
The country is awash with sexually explicit literature — 200,000 read online the erotic romance “Love Has No Laws,” by first-time writer Camila Moreira, according to Brazil’s biggest newspaper, the Folha de S. The paper also hosts a blog, the X of Sex, in which one woman recently detailed realizing her fantasy of having sex with two men at the same time.
She writes that she enjoys her work, embraces pleasure and gets paid — controversial sentiments for contradictory Brazil, a country that is obsessed with sex but deeply religious, conservative and macho.
At this landmark bookstore, a cultural hub for Sao Paulo intellectuals, these sentiments appeared to hit a nerve.
“I admire her,” said Carol Monteiro, 18, after joining the line to buy a copy of the book.
Added her friend Suzane Albino, 24: “She had the liberty and strength to do what she wanted.” Lola Benvenutti began as a blog persona, as da Silva used prostitution to pay her way through college.