Sunday, March 7, 2010
"Elis put a message in my pocket and told me to go read it in the bathroom..."
- César Camargo Mariano
"Her purse was something else. She had everything: from nail polish to a student case with pencils, pens. She had make-up, mirrors, notebooks and more notebooks, one for each thing."
- Mônica Figueiredo
At the start of her success, Elis used to say that she didn't mix the "person" with the "singer". As she discovered that it was impossible not to mix them, she stopped saying this. And the ex-quiet young girl from Porto Alegre became Pimentinha (little pepper) of Rio de Janeiro, and in charge of her own life. At the same time that she proclaimed her independence, she sank into painful moments of anxiety, in profound solitude. Artists walk among the crowd looking for their peers. There is very little that can be shared intimately with ordinary people. There is much that is shared in public.
Maybe Elis didn't imagine who her brother Rogério would become when he grew up. In childhood, she was used to protect him, but one time the protege nearly busted her mouth with a punch. On that day, Rogério wanted to play ball and Elis couldn't go alone to the radio station. The impasse was resolved by the punch: Elis got a swollen mouth and couldn't sing. As punishment, Rogério was not allowed to play.
In 1965, Rogério Carvalho Costa was between 14 and 15 years old. He wanted to play football and was studying in a college for rich people in Porto Alegre, thanks to Elis, who purchased a scholarship in order for Rogério to be able to play in the school band. But basically, Rogério wanted to play football. He had been taken by his parents from the happy little life in Porto Alegre, from his first girlfriend, to be dropped into the circus of horrors that, for him, Rio de Janeiro seemed to be. There he spent days and days in front of the television set and started to see the first arguments between Elis and their parents. Rogério went back to Porto Alegre and only returned to Rio when he answered his sister's call for help, around the time when she was breaking up with Bôscoli.
To be quite honest, Rogério didn't know how to do anything. He couldn't manage to study properly during those comings-and-goings between Rio and Porto Alegre. He worked for a while in the bookstore of Jacques and Lidia Libion, french friends of Ronaldo Bôscoli. Elis then asked Rogério to take care of the sound for the show É Elis (Here's Elis), at the Praia Theatre, the most disorderly of her career. Rogério realized that his sister's invitation had hidden motives. In reality, she wanted her brother close because she was breaking up with Ronaldo Bôscoli and was apparently afraid of him. But in a way, the work was formative for Rogério, who was starting to learn a profession. He recalls:
- I wanted to be a football player or a musician. And suddenly I found myself being neither. Being a sound technician was a way to be among musicians and to be close to Elis. Rogério remembers the first job:
- It was a big failure with the public. They invented a ridiculous scenery that didn't work. The scenery cost a fortune. At the end of the show, Elis would sit on the stairs of the stage and sing Boa noite, amor (Goodnight, My Love), over a pre-recorded arrangement. One day, there was no electricity for an hour, and Elis sang with neither orchestra nor microphone, with lighting from a flashlight. Those are the good memories. But the family environment was gloomy. As much as Elis broke up with Rogério, she broke up with dona Ercy and consequently with Rosângela. With the whole family, in other words. She didn't talk to anyone. And at that time, she had already purchased another apartment beside hers in Joatinga. The family stayed in one, and she stayed in the other. Rogério recalls:
- It got bad because my father went back to Porto Alegre. We were financially dependent on Elis and she didn't talk to us.
Dona Ercy said that Elis did not allow her to use the telephone in the apartment to call Romeu in Porto Alegre. She also remembered that they didn't have the courage to ask for money and something to curb their hunger.
Rogério then decided that he had to do something. He sent his mother and half-sister to Porto Alegre and started to work. He found a job with the sound technician of the Violado Quintet, who were getting ready for a tour in the north-east. Rogério left Elis' apartment empty and went to live with the band's entourage.
He stayed out of Elis' life for six months. Six long months. The fatal show É Elis was a disaster, and signified the definite end of Mieli and Bôscoli's involvement in her career. The marriage was ending.
The affair with Nelson Motta also. It was then that Elis began to become interested in the piano player that accompanied her every night on the show É Elis. César Camargo Mariano was a completely different man than his friend Ronaldo Bôscoli.
Introspective, very quiet, of the type who appear to be more timid than they really are. The kind of person you look at and think: "He would never hurt a fly". Pure sensitivity when his soft fingers play the piano.
I was already close to Elis by the time I talked with César for the first time . "Closeness" is a dangerous word when one talks about Elis. You would pass through the first sieve of her curiosity and, if you awakened any emotion in her, you could continue ahead. She saw me as an ambitious young woman, with drive and a will to win in life. This was how we got along right away. With César, it was different. He didn't talk much, but we looked at each other with respect, from far. He was one of the last persons that I talked to before writing this book, ten years later.
He seemed to be running away from me, would not respond to my telephone calls and didn't give any sign of life. When we finally got together in July, he hugged me and said: "I didn't have any time". I knew that there was more to it than that, but I let it go at that point. As our ever-changing Elis used to put it, the fact that you knew somebody one day doesn't mean that you and her would be the same years later. Everything is exposed to rain and thunder. Nine years of marriage and a career so intertwined as was that of those two artists' surely leave marks that César Mariano would maybe like to forget today. Now remarried, César Mariano is raising Elis' three children: Pedro (ten years old) and Maria Rita (eight), his children, and João Marcelo (fifteen), son of Ronaldo Bôscoli (1).
César Mariano has recaptured his solo career very well. He passionately recalled the times when he lived with Elis:
- In 1971, I was in Porto Alegre when I received a note: Elis wanted me. But "to want" could mean any things, since I entertained a platonic love for Elis ever since the days of Record.
But in this case, "wanted" signified that Ronaldo Bôscoli wanted to talk to me, because they needed musicians to put on a show with Elis. We formed the band and played at the Monsieur Pujol club.
Elis would go there from time to time and would sing and practice with us. We all thought that she was still confused over the process of separation with Ronaldo and when the show began, in March 1972, she was legally single. I would spend the entire show looking at her, and my great thrill was to arrive there at night and be with her. And I only met Elis on stage until one day I received a message. Elis was inviting me to an evening of cinema at her house the following day, a Monday.
"We are going to watch Bergman's Wild Strawberries, won't you come?" I went alone, I was married at the time. When I arrived at the Niemeyer house, there were also two couples and a girl there. I sat in a corner, very shy because I didn't know anyone. When the first reel ended, the lights were turned on and there I was in the corner, drinking Coca-Cola. Elis put a piece of paper in my pocket and told me to go to the bathroom and read it. I got up, went to the bathroom and opened the piece of paper. "I like you a hell of a lot. I want you so much. And I don't give a shit what anybody says". I finished reading the message and the only thing I wanted to do was to get the hell away from there. I left through the bathroom window, jumped three meters to the ground, got in my car and left. I went to the beach neighborhood of Recreio dos Bandeirantes (near Arpoador) and stayed there until the following day. On Tuesday, I went home and told my wife everything. I only reappeared on Thursday, when the start of the recording sessions for that year's record was scheduled. I arrived at two o'clock and felt the mood from a distance. Elis was pacing from side to side, totally confused, and I didn't know whether she was laughing or furious. I had disappeared since Tuesday.
I took Menescal aside and told him: "Get rid of the other musicians so that I can record Atrás Da Porta (Behind The Door) with her, just voice and piano". At six o'clock, when the recording was finished, she offered me a ride and asked: "Are you going home or are you going straight to the theatre?" I said: "I'm going to stop at home to pick up my toothbrush". After the show, we went straight to her house on Niemeyer.
The telephone rings in a hotel room in Recife (2). Rogério, a gáucho with an indian face and flowing black hair, answers. "Géio, do you remember a certain excursion that took place in the Joe Cocker film, and that you would have liked to do?" Rogério left the Violado Quintet that very hour and accompanied Elis and the group made up of César Mariano, Paulinho Braga, Luisão, Alemão, and Chiquinho Batera. They did thirty-nine shows in forty-five days, one show in each city. It was Elis' first university circuit, by bus into the interior of São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina states (3).
The shows were organized by the academic centres of local universities. During this university circuit, Rogério Costa entered for good into Elis' professional entourage, with the big advantage of not being an irresponsible young man any more, in the eyes of his sister:
- I think that she thought that I wouldn't change, that I would sink. And I was up to the struggle. In this way I earned her respect. This was what she wanted, that I shake myself up a bit. She felt that she was very important because people depended on her.
When dona Ercy says that she lost a daughter, Rogério doesn't disagree. "It's very possible that she lost." But him, on the contrary, was at that moment gaining a sister.
At that time, Elis was living at the apartment in Joatinga. The romance with César Mariano had already turned into a marriage. Elis allowed herself to interrupt somewhat the cycle of frontal attacks, and lived in relative peace. It was a time of love, and a musical encounter that would change one more time the direction of her career and of César's. César's musical sensitivity would create beautiful arrangements for her, and would open up the possibility of a perfect and profound harmony between the home and work lives.
For two years - from 1972 to 74 - the couple Walter Negrão and Orfila lived alongside Elis, César and João Marcelo, in the same condominium in Joatinga. Walter Negrão, journalist, already knew Elis by profession. Orfila resisted as much as she could to know her. She recalls:
- I was a little afraid of her temperament, and preferred to guard myself. And I believe that our getting together was spiritual. I am a spiritualist, and Elis started to talk a great deal to me about spiritualism. She was very curious, wanted to know, and eventually participated in the meetings of the Brazilian Spiritualist Society, with headquarters in Curitiba. Elis went on to write messages with the help of a medium.
Orfila got over her initial resistance and began to participate more actively in Elis' life. At that time, she got so involved that she was named, by the family judge da Vara, as the person who should drop off and pick up the young João Marcelo during visits to and from his father Ronaldo Bôscoli. Elis and Bôscoli didn't even want to see each other at that time. More so Elis than Bôscoli, incidentally.
- Incredible situations happened sometimes where, fifteen minutes before Bôscoli was due to arrive, Elis would leave with João Marcelo and disappear, inventing stories about picnics or something like that.
Just like Elis, Orfila dove headfirst into that relationship.
- I knew very well what kind of ground I was walking on. And Elis was a very possessive woman, but I think that I was one of the persons that Elis in fact respected. She would become really quiet and listen to me. Dona Ercy became a bit jealous of me because a certain transference took place. I was almost like a mother to Elis, even though our age difference did not lead to that.
This transference of Elis, or this will to create very strong bonds, bonds that couldn't be broken, even in the most stormy moments, made it such that she wrapped up her friends with her brilliant capacity to fascinate. Walter Negrão noticed this when she wanted to call them "parents", and when she would try to give titles to friends that could barely be considered her friends. In exchange for this intimacy, Elis would offer herself up to you in generous doses. It was fantastic to live alongside her talent, as it was terrible to be witness to her excessive fits of anger. But when she was well, happy were those at her side. Elis promoted parties, get-togethers and excitement.
- It was a very rich companionship with both of them, César and her. She was very agitated, didn't have the same rhythm as me, because while I also do various things at the same time, I am more accommodating with life. She had an anxiety, a thirst to live everything with frightening intensity. Every time that we withdrew together, it was in order that I not be suffocated and confused by the entourage that surrounded her.
When the excursion in the south of Brazil came to an end, Rogério Costa became unemployed one more time. Rogério wasn't really living anywhere and had just sought shelter in the house of Marli, Elis' secretary, and ex-girlfriend of Alberto Rushell and Flávio Rangel. Some time later, still nemployed, Rogério went to live on a small ranch, looked after by a female friend at that time. It was in this ranch, which was in São Bernardo de Campo, that Elis and César stayed while they looked for a house in São Paulo, having already decided to leave Rio de Janeiro. It was then, through the Violado Quintet, that Rogério found out that Roberto de Oliveira had an opening in his production company, named Clack. Roberto de Oliveira was a young producer, creator of the university circuits, and through whom artists like Chico Buarque found work. Clack was a producer of jingles, had a little studio, and leased the Bandeirantes Theatre on Brigadeiro Luís Antônio Avenue from TV Bandeirantes. Rogério got the job. And it was from there that he assisted and contributed to a great turning point in Elis' career. The year: 1973.
- Clack purchased an Elis Regina show from Marcos Lázaro. That show was to take place at the house of one of the members of the Lutfala family. It was an apartment on Mello Alves Street, and the party was in honour of the manufacturer of Piaget watches. Right from the start, it was something else. The lady of the house asked Elis to come in by the front door but told the musicians to enter through the kitchen. Elis didn't like that and told the woman that she preferred to go in with her colleagues. And that's what happened. Elis spent all her time in the kitchen, talking with the employees, did the show and left by the back door. After the show, I told Elis how the deal had been made: Marcos Lázaro had sold the show for a certain amount, and we had resold it to the lady of the house for another. In other words, why should she earn less while the impresarios earned more?
Elis and Marcos Lázaro, the end of a partnership that had lasted ten years. Marcos Lázaro received a letter from Elis breaking the contract. He recalls:
- Elis was my most busy artist, she practically never had a rest, doing a show every weekend. And she got to a point where she wanted to be an elite artist. It was at that point that we parted ways. She didn't want to do any more shows at the Círculo Militar (Military Circle), at the Paulistano (4). She wanted to work for students, to do the university circuit. And I felt that this was a mistake. When she died, she had the affection of the public who loved her, who would have liked to see her but could not. She wasn't going to sing for them. And, in my opinion, Elis was the most popular artist of prestige in Brazil. She didn't want that, she wanted something else. She started to refuse to do certain shows - she was greatly influenced by her husband - and one day, she made her decision. She waited until I went on a trip, and sent me a letter. She wouldn't have been able to discuss this with me face to face. She criticized me a great deal. In the magazine Veja (5), she said that she hadn't done the May 1st show because she didn't wasn't going to add to the caviar of "her" Marcos Lázaro. She also felt hurt by me. I was told that in Falso Brilhante (6) (Fake Diamond), one of the characters who embraces her, the puppet, was a representation of me.
A man who tied her up and made her a prisoner.
And Roberto de Oliveira started to be Elis Regina's impresario. It was a sudden change. Roberto created a new image for her, more inaccessible, farther from the gossip of the press on her private life, more reserved on declarations about third-parties, finer and more cultured, more preoccupied with the politics of Brazil, the politics of music, and the politics of life. Roberto de Oliveira was twenty-seven years old and didn't want to be an impresario. But he accepted:
- Elis came from a very commercial approach with Marcos Lázaro, as he did with other singers. But she was very intelligent, although she didn't have much culture. And her contemporaries began to expect another type of treatment and approach from their impresarios, and she felt this. She was a little discriminated against by the other artists. Bethânia (7) had a status of her own, Gal (8) because Caetano Veloso (9) and the bahian group passed through her. Besides, Elis had been married to Ronaldo Bôscoli, who had brought her up into a global, apolitical and reactionary world. And suddenly, the singers and composers of her generation were in clear opposition to the political situation at that time. Elis had sung at the Olimpíadas do Exército (10) (Army Olympics). And she knew that her talent was better than the little world in which she was living. I met Elis at that time, at the moment when she had become aware of all this. I had only seen Elis once at Phono 1973, when they turned off Chico Buarque's microphone (11). I was with him in the car when Elis appeared, crying and saying: "How could they do this to you?" It was partly circus-like or theatrical, yet at the same time sincere and showing solidarity with Chico.
"Some time later, she asked me to become her impresario. She said that she didn't want to be treated like a sack of potatoes by Marcos Lázaro any more, she complained a great deal about the shows at the Di Mônaco and at the Military Circle, where she had thrown the microphone at the face of a drunk in the audience. The following day, everything was already taken care of: we had a legal battle with Marcos Lázaro, but this was resolved.
"She had talent and success but didn't have prestige. I thought: she must have all three. I started to work on her mind because I thought that she talked too much, talked about too many things, and often contradicted herself. Elis would get very involved with whoever was close to her at the time, and the following day, when that person was gone, she would change her opinion. I don't know if she had a neurological disorder or if she was hyper, but she told me that her head spun much faster than other people, and it spun indeed.
"From then on I advised her to sing more and talk less. Then I did a ridiculous thing during one of her fights with César. The press were calling about it, and I wrote a note saying that this was a problem related to their marriage, and that it wasn't anybody's business. Later I was very embarrassed about it, but it was an attempt to protect her private life. The first task was to create a better rapport with the high-level press, and the first result was an interview in the yellow pages of the magazine Veja."
On that day, the journalist Sílvio Lancelotti started a friendship with Elis that would last for many years.
- Our encounter was very funny, because she didn't seem to want to give me an interview.
She was very suspicious. I went to her house on Califórnia Street and we talked for about three hours before I could bring up the subject of the interview. And something very funny happened:
She was still arranging things around the house, because she had just moved there. And she had a problem with the carpets, since Marcos Lázaro owed her thirty thousand cruzeiros, had agreed to pay for the carpets, but hadn't yet come through with the payment.
In this interview, published in May 74, Elis talked of her encounter with Tom Jobim, to commemorate her ten years at Philips. They had recorded an album together in Los Angeles (12).
According to Elis, it was a definitive step. A meeting with the great musical creator of bossa-nova and of music with cultured roots. A great artist to whom she had to tip her hat. And there were few to whom Elis had to tip her hat. Roberto Menescal, at that time artistic director of Phonogram, talks about the record made by Elis and Tom:
- I called each day to find out how Aloysio de Oliveira (13) was making out with the two of them. He said the same thing every day: things are somewhat difficult, but everything is going well. Then I talked to Elis on the phone and she said: "It's a piece of shit, there's nothing good about it, and Tom is an imbecile, a bore, he reacts against the electronic instruments, says they're going to bring everything out of tune or in tune, I'm not sure which, and the recording is stupid, it resembles bossa-nova". And I asked: "But Elis, in all that time nothing has been produced?" "Yes", she said, "there is a nice little song", and then she started to become more animated in her conversation, and to become more excited, and at the end of our talk the record was sublime, marvellous. "I'm so looking forward to getting back to Brazil and showing it to you. All the cuts are beautiful."
The impresario Roberto de Oliveira went to Los Angeles a few days after Elis had arrived. He tells the story, twelve years later:
- Elis was a bit strange. I think that she saw a bit of Ronaldo Bôscoli in Tom Jobim. She called me to say that already, she was ready to go back. I went there as fast as could. I'm not sure, but with me there she appeared to feel more secure. Someone had given me the idea of filming their meeting and this became a special on TV Bandeirantes. Elis said that Tom was old, not old, but that she was preoccupied to be modern and that she felt that being modern was not Tom Jobim.
Modern was César's electric piano, and Tom didn't want César's electric piano, which had just come out. The record was a revival of the 1950's. At that time I felt that the record should be more open, I wanted her to record in english, I wanted to transform Elis into an international singer.
And I realized that over there, to be successful, one had to do an university circuit, do fifty, a hundred shows, and spend six months a year living in the United States. Elis didn't like the idea at all, and I got ticked-off. I thought that she should get into the same niche as Dionne Warwick, take on the same consumer market, join in the foray. She didn't like that, she thought that she had to be in Brazil, a Brazilian, things like that. We stayed there a month recording the album and making the TV special, and Elis got on the plane to Brazil on her birthday: March 17th. March 17th 1974, twenty-nine years old. I stayed there a while, and when I returned to Brazil, everything had changed. Elis was living through a happy phase with César Mariano, and the episode with Tom had changed her mind a great deal. I think that she returned from the U.S. with a greater morale, and her public had also changed. Thereafter, Elis put on her first theatre show, at the Maria Della Costa.
It was a show with good taste. It didn't have any scenery, just a neutral background. It was a concert. Before this, the TV Bandeirantes special had been shown on the air, and we did a 'one night' show at the Bandeirantes Theatre with Tom, Elis and an orchestra, and we charged a high price, and admission fee of two hundred cruzeiros when one normally paid thirty. She also made an appearance on Globo (14) that I didn't particularly want. But I had asked an absurd amount of money from Bôni and he paid. After closing the show at the Maria Della Costa, we started to do a university circuit.
César Camargo Mariano's version of the meeting between Elis and Tom:
- We arrived in Los Angeles at eight in the morning and, when we got off the plane, Tom Jobim was right there, with a small flower in his hand for Elis. We went straight to his house and started to talk. Suddenly he turned to Aloysio and asked: "Who's going to do the arrangements?"
This immediately drew a blank. When Aloysio answered: "César", Tom went crazy. "No", he said. And he started to call Klaus Ogerman, I don't know who, and we were just looking. Elis became silent, and was drinking whisky. To get out of the impasse, I sat at the piano and we started to work on the repertory. By then Tom was no longer calling anyone and we went to the studio. He didn't want an electric piano, and a number of other things. When I left to go work on the arrangements, Elis took João Marcelo to Disneyland, but Tom stayed behind. As I sat down at the piano, the telephone rang: "César, how are things, are you doing something?" "No, Tom, I'm just starting." And it was like that until I finished. He didn't want to come over and do it with me, he did it over the phone instead. When it came time to do the mixing of the recording, it was the same thing. He called every five minutes. But, when the work was all finished, Tom turned to us and said: "The problem is that you are used to taking a shower and I am used to taking a bath. Forgive me".
Roberto de Oliveira's university circuit really jolted Elis' mind, and she decided once and for all to move to São Paulo. Finding themselves without a house, Elis, César and João Marcelo were the guests of Abelardo and Laura Figueiredo.
- Elis called me and said: "Laurinha, I'm coming over there but I have a problem, you can put me up in your house". I replied: "Elis, only for a week". And she: "All right, Laura, fifteen days at the most".
Elis, César and João Marcelo remained three months. Laura recalls:
- It was a killer. I worked, and when I came home at night she had already charged up her plot, her whole circus. "That maid can't stay, that person can't come here anymore!" I took care of the house until one day she left, after picking a fight with me. It was on account of something I had said at Polygram and that had been told to her. I was working with Michel Legrand on a day full of problems and I had said: "My God, icons are only for the stage!" She thought that I was talking about her, became offended and left.
This was the second time that Elis had been a guest in the Figueiredo's house. And with two different husbands. The couple's two daughters, Mônica and Patrícia, maintained throughout their lives a deep contact with Elis. With Mônica, the oldest, Elis used to go shopping and show her intimacy as housewife and woman. With Patrícia, she wanted to play a motherly role and, on certain occasions, tried to save her from transforming herself into a spoiled high-society lady. When Laura Figueiredo went to live in Paris with her two daughters, Elis wrote two letters to Patrícia, who was fifteen years old at the time:
"São Paulo, September 3rd, 1974.
Hello, hello, dona Patrícia.
A thousand hugs and kisses.
I received your letter with a certain delay. We are on tour, in the south of Brazil. Another circuit. Which starts in my blessed land (15). Otherwise, everything's very nice. There's even a tunnel. Do you get it? Fine people and other things.
How are you? Paris is a ball? Everything is nice, no? Have you stopped screwing around yet? I remember that the first time I went to Paris, I walked and walked so much that there wasn't a pair of shoes that lasted. If they haven't already taken place, liquidation sales will soon start. Thousands of clothes. A real bargain.
Tell Mônica that I have a female friend who is studying guitar with Jean. She says that he is a marvellous passion. São Paulo continues to be full of grace. Each day, I fall in love even more with the city. Wow! Here things are well. My house has just received curtains as a present. Chic. It looks like a girl on the eve of a debutante's ball. Tell Laura that I am going to consult with a doctor friend of mine, to see about this business with her arm. We certainly hope that she will be OK. I'm going to look for a remedy for gastritis as well. This doctor is a big shot. He has already made blind people see. Glory!
We are working ourselves crazy. João is advancing in every direction he's entitled to. He has already grown four fingers since the last time you came here. Incredible. Besides that, not much else. I am working hard and am amusing myself a great deal.
That's it. Moreover, if someone has things to say it must be you. New house, new life, new world. Go for it! Give a kiss to Mônica and a big hug to your mother. Tell her that we hope she gets better. And that she takes advantage of her new life.
See that you don't let a single second pass by without seeing and living it. Pay attention. Any error could prove fatal. Take advantage of that chance. You have won a present of gold dust. Turn it into jewelry. Don't think too much about dresses, shoes and coiffeurs. Life isn't like that. Especially in Paris. Don't be provincial. Act like a developed woman, which is what you can't find around here. Put on short pants, boots, notebook and paper, and equip yourself for life. I guarantee that you won't get this from the salons and the Dior shops. Until they, who invented those things realize that they are useless. That it's a lie and something belonging to a ridiculous minority, that's in process of disappearing, thankfully, that don't have their feet on the ground, and they will really get hurt when the time of the fall comes, because they have climbed higher than a coconut tree.
I don't know if you will like what I told you, or think that it's a piece of shit. But I'm stopping here so there you are...
A kiss and longings (saudades) from everyone in our house.
I typed this because my handwriting is so beautiful. I wanted to make it easier..."
~ ~ ~
"São Paulo, 9/10/74.
I have just received your letter and answer right away, before some trip takes me away. If only things would work like that today. Whatever you have to do, you'd better do it now, or else who knows when you'll get a chance to do it?
We are working like moors. It's not going to work out this way. I swear to you! Besides that, we have taken in a bit of cinema, a bit of theatre, and things like that. But, a little more each day, we hide ourselves and live out our lives, the four of us. I continue not liking to meet people that I don't know.
We have just recorded a record that was very hard work. From the cover to the mixing. Without whoopee-whoopee, without parties and things like that. A record for males! Gee! All kidding aside, it's terrific. I would even risk to say that it's the best thing that we have done to date. Fearless.
João has grown even more. He is more crazy every day. Thank God. Because I wouldn't have patience for a son who was organized and square. I've seen Maria Laura already. She is wonderful on tape. But very pretty as well. I recognized her as soon as I saw her.
This week we did the live concert with Tom. I liked it. And it seems that the people liked it too. We are happy for...
I have read a few things on your father's work. But very little. And I haven't seen him. Therefore I can't give you any news on the Old One. Forgive me, Electra.
Besides that, our life continues to be incredibly terrific. It's almost scary. Since I'm not used to good treatments, as you know. And the only novelty is that César is growing a beard. It's great. He looks like his father. Who is a nice old man, en passant (by the way). In the end, he has given himself the ultimate armed fortress against shyness. A mere and simple beard. The guy is impossible. Handsome!
I am sorry, but our life is so ridiculously calm, tranquil and happy that there is little to talk about. Who knows, maybe next time there will be more news?
Give kisses to dona Mônica and dona Laura.
And tell Norma that Cida got married and isn't working anymore. Now she has a gentleman who helps her. A fine type. A luxury!
For you, a thousand kisses and saudades. And always write, it will be an honour to have it in our program. It's too bad that television, I mean, the letter, can't be in colour.
Many caresses and a thousand kisses from all of us here in New Brooklyn. More saudades and more caresses, Elis"
For the journalist Mônica Figueiredo, the memories of Elis have a special flavour. Mônica coexisted with the "knitting" side of Elis, in other words, she was with her in very intimate situations. Like the fact of sharing the same bathroom. Elis looked to her companion for things that she wouldn't do alone. Example: leave in the morning, go to Guarujá, and come back at the end of the day. She also went with Mônica to get things that she wanted to buy - anything from trifles to a house. Mônica speaks:
- I remember a huge silver tray, the type people get as a wedding gift, on which Elis kept her make-up. She lined up everything straight and in order: eye shadow in one line, lipstick in another. She had everything. She used this tray until acrylic became fashionable. Then she bought an acrylic tray. She had an enormous collection of shoes, and I remember that in the house on Nieweyer, she had a closet made just to store her shoes. Her collection had everything - from Dr. Scholl clogs (of all colours) to imported shoes. I remember one in particular: it had an immense iron butterfly in front.
"At the civil wedding ceremony, Elis wore a gown made by Denner, all of sparkles that changed colours in waves, and fell to the floor. Wearing this dress, she greeted the guests for dinner, ultrachic. Two days later they got married in the church and the party was at my uncle's house, Cícero and Elza Leuenroth - parents of Olivia Hime -, in an apartment in Viúva hill, Flamengo beach. The apartment was beautiful, with ribbon bows on the candlesticks. There was also caviar.
She and Ronaldo spent their honeymoon in my bedroom in the house on Atlântica Avenue, in São Paulo. In that house I also shared some great moments with Elis. One time, she fell in love with Milton Nascimento's "Milagre dos Peixes" (Miracle of the Fishes) album, and later, she went crazy over the book that told the story of Isidora Duncan. She wondered about being the reincarnation of Isidora Duncan and walked back and forth with the book. Elis loved to read and had a great interest for all subjects. She helped me to do my school homework, and the best thing was when she put a cover on my notebooks. It was perfection. I went to her house at the start of every school year.
"I have never seen anything that rivals the cupboards in her house. Everything was clean and in order. She liked dressing gowns and negligees. She had several. When we went out shopping, she loved to go to Sears and start browsing, looking for things to buy. Sometimes, she would walk into a chic clothing shop and spend a fortune.
"When Elis became pregnant with Pedro (16), I brought her to Dr. Cláudio Basbaum. I had read an article in the Jornal da Tarde, and Elis bought the book and translated it, and already knew everything about the Leboyer childbirth by the time she went to see the doctor. After giving birth to
Pedro, she went back to her room sitting on the stretcher, laughing.
"She was also preoccupied about certain things from time to time: her bedroom in the house on Califórnia Street was painted brown. One day she thought that this was the reason for her being depressed. She though that life was pessimistic because of the brown in the bedroom, and she got everything painted white. But the decisions were like this, from one day to he next, and somehow the production worked. When she went to live at Cantareira (17), she decided to wear loose clothes. She was always in short clothes or jogging outfits. Elis did her own nails, and when she died her nails were done. She liked skin-cleaning creams and bought a mountain of products.
"Her purse was something else. She had everything: from nail polish to a student case with pencils, pens. She had make-up, mirrors, notebooks and more notebooks, one for each thing.
"Elis liked to make rugs, to knit, to crochet, and she had a sewing machine. She made the bedding for her sons, and embroidered pagan shirts. At a certain point, she decided to do away with the evening maid: she did everything herself, and cooked for everybody.
"From the time I was small, I accompanied Elis to the dressing rooms. Sometimes we were alone in there, playing cards. People would beat on the door and Elis wouldn't let them come in. Then it was my job to post on the wall the cards and notes that she would get during the shows. "When João Marcelo was sick in Rio, I was at the clinic with him and Elis. She did miles of crossword puzzles and would have to wake up early to go find human milk that João Marcelo could tolerate (18). He was allergic to bottled milk. The first day that I managed to drag Elis away from the hospital to get a bit of a rest - both of us slept on a sofa -, we went to my aunt Elza's house, where she prepared a bubble bath for Elis. When she entered the bathtub, she made a scene: she laughed and laughed and called everybody to come and see.
"When Elis went to New York with Fábio Jr. she looked up a common friend, Márcio Martins Moreira, a publicist who lived there. The three of them got together on Broadway to attend Chorus Line, and afterwards went to a restaurant nearby. He told me that Elis was playing at imagining what it would be like to get out of a Broadway show and wait for the Times critic to come out.
Márcio dropped off Elis and Fábio at the hotel and, the next day, Elis called to tell him that Fábio had left.
Now in São Paulo, settled in the house on Califórnia Street, Elis decided that it was time to reunite the family once again.
She invited the father and mother to come and live in the house in front, which she rented. Her rother Rogério preferred to live with Elis, and afterward moved in with Biba.
In reality, Elis thought that she could put up a family setting which would increase the strength she needed to meet her professional workload. "If some must win, let my own be the winners", she used to tell me. Rogério, employed by Roberto Oliveira at Clack, was a full time employee of Elis Regina.
- The situation left me more at ease, because although I worked for her, she wasn't the one paying my salary. Now I could tell her what I thought right to her face and have other types of conversations, because she wasn't paying me. I could escape the economic pressure that she had always exerted, and her saying: I have, I pay, I do.
Thus strengthened, Rogério noticed, as he had previously noticed with Marcos Lázaro, that there was one person too many in this relation with Elis. While she did all the work, Roberto de Oliveira's Clack got its percentage. Besides, Rogério was starting to want to earn more money.
"Why do you give that money to Roberto, we could split it between us", he said to Elis. She agreed, and Trama was born, Elis Regina's production office. It was a good period, according to Rogério's recollections:
- Elis released her imagination to create things, travelled, and I kept my feet on the ground. She started to listen more to what I said. Sometimes she even agreed to let me do whatever was necessary to put on a commercial show. She would go fighting to get the money.
At home everything went well in this short moment of total happiness, whereupon Elis embarked on her definitive and ecstatic experience: thirty years old, two marriages, two children, having already passed through the highs and lows of life. The show Falso Brilhante (Fake Diamond) started to be born.
Orfila, a friend from during the times of Joatinga, was asked to produce the show. Rogério Costa was at his post. In an attempt to find a director who would agree to a contract, and of the importance that Elis wanted, they asked Chico de Assis, Ademar Guerra and Silnei Siqueira, who all refused or were already occupied. Silnei suggested his neighbour, the actress Miriam Muniz, then married to the author Sílvio Zilber, and in charge of the Centre for Macunaíma Studies, where attempts were made to conciliate the work of authors with the psychoanalytic experiences of Roberto Freir and Miriam Muniz. When the two of them first set eyes on each other, whoever had enough sense could see. This was going to make for an exciting time! Two strong temperaments.
Two explosive and talented women.
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Copyright Regina Echeverria – Robert St-Louis
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