In the 80s, gay life in Rio de Janeiro was non-existent. Besides to a few gay clubs, there were also some pornographic theaters. However, nightlife in Rio took it to another level when a show that explored sensuality and eroticism debuted in Copacabana. The “Noite dos Leopardos(Night of the Leopards)” was a mythical stripper show, very popular in the 80s and 90s, which shook Rio, attracting artists, women and, of course, gays.
“Leopardo” was the name given to the muscular boys who took their clothes off on stage at the Alaska gallery, a traditional gay point of the time. They were young people from the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro who, for the most part, lived together in a rented apartment in the South Zone. In addition to the salary, the boys also earned good tips from fans and indecent proposals after the show. Most had sex for money, some were straight and some were gay, some even had steady lovers (of both genders) who “helped” them. Despite being a show aimed at the gay audience, women were also present.
The creator of the show was the crossdresser Eloína, who due to the success of the show, became known forever as “Eloína dos Leopardos”. Currently, pornography is available with just a few clicks, but in a pre-internet era, going to a theater to see healed men dancing as they came into the world was the sensation of carioca’s nights.
At the top of its popularity, the “Noite dos Leopardos” had famous presence in the audience, from Cazuza, Elza Soares, Caetano Veloso and several other artists. Not to mention the internationals, like Madonna (who closed the show just for her, but there are those who claim that this is a legend) and Liza Minelli.
The origin of the show.
Eloína dos Leopardos had witnessed a strip-tease show in San Francisco, California, birthplace of the American gay community years ago, and decided to bring the idea to the sunny Rio de Janeiro.
In the beginning (1987), the show premiered at the Serrador theater (downtown) with only five boys. The success was immediate. Then came ten, twelve, eighteen young people, and soon after, he migrated to the Alaska gallery, where he was consecrated.
The Noite dos Leopardos lasted 12 years, being the top at the end of the 80s and early 90s. Always with a full house, even if the show was trash, after all they were boys with no experience with dance and who only had talent as a beautiful body and other attributes that were only revealed at the end of the attraction.
The presentation had three entries: in the first, the boys performed with small clothes and wearing masks and without any dance skills. In the second, they wore only a thong and, in the third and most awaited part of the show, they appeared naked on the stage and excited, causing an uproar in the audience.
What end the Leopardos took
Over the course of 12 years, it is estimated that more than 400 Leopardos have passed through the show, as far as their “post-felines” fate is concerned, little is known. Most prefer to hide the past, however, there is information that one lives in New York, three became civil servants and one of them (considered the star of the show) lives a peaceful life in the suburb of Rio.
The most emblematic case is that of the ex-Leopardo Maurício Gimenes, who died of complications caused by AIDS, in 1999 at the age of 36, when he lived in Italy. Gimenes was obsessed with fame, wanted to be known at all costs, made a apparition in the global soap opera De Corpo e Alma in 1992 and, years later, won a small character in the soap opera Salsa & Merengue.He also posed nude for the extinct Banana Loca magazine.
Another famous ex-feline was Giuliano Ferraz, who entered the last batch of boys in 1997, when he was 18 years old. At the time, the show was already showing signs of boredom. Later, Ferraz made a successful career in porn cinema under the name of Júlio Vidal. Today, he is a pastor and does not like to mention the past.
The murderer of actress Daniela Perez, Guilherme de Pádua, was also a Leopardo, but it lasted a very short time.
From trash to sophisticated
Four after the premiere of the show, Eloína invited the renowned choreographer Ciro Barcelos (Dzi Croquettes) to create a staging with a beginning, middle and end, that is, to do something more improved, as there were proposals to present the Noite dos Leopardos in Europe. However, the high rotativity of the boys in the show, undermined the improved standard they wanted to maintain.
The Noite dos Leopardos served to create a carioca fashion that in the following years spread throughout the country, with the Clube das Mulheres, the straight version of the Leopards.