Joãosinho Trinta remembered


Joãosinho Trinta was born on November 23, 1933 in Sao Luis, Maranhao and grew up the son of factory workers. In 1951, at the age of 18, he moved to Rio de Janeiro to pursue a career as a classical dancer and joined the corps de ballet of the Teatro Municipa. Here he became interested in almost everything in the assembly of a spectacle, including the function of dancers, costumes and the set designer. At the time of his passing on December 17th, he was working on projects for his home state, the Maranhão  Department of Culture commemorating the 400 years of São Luís to be celebrated in 2012. Joãosinho,  revolutionized the carnival in Rio de Janeiro increasing the majesty of spectacle and fantastic to a high level where all other Carnavals in the world could only claim they were the second best after Rio de Janeiro. His pursuit of beauty was relentless finding it not only in elaborate refinements, extravagant costumes, taller floats but also the beauty of the body and particularly women naked punctuating great allegorical dreams of the collective conscious and myths of the collective unconscious.

Trinta had suffered his first stroke in 1996 when he lost his left arm movements but he recovered triumphantly to lead and  Viradouro to victory in 1997 with the storyline “Darkness! Light! Explosion of the universe. ” In 2004, while preparing the 2005 carnival of Vila Isabel, Joãosinho fell ill and had a new stroke.

Perhaps better than anyone, Trinta understood the essential Carnival concept — that for one day, even a beggar can become a king. In an old television interview on TV Globo, reprised recently on the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper’s website, Trinta said:

“To me, Carnival is the only moment of unreality, the only moment
when you have to escape from the day-to-day of common things and
leave for a moment of emotion, beauty and unreality.”

Salgueiro [1963-1975:

In 1963 he was introduced to art of Rio Carnaval Salgueiro

Arlindo Rodrigues

It was there that he began his passion for carnival and he won the championship as an assistant in 1965, 1969 and 1971.. Ten years later, when his godfather left school, he assumed the role of Carnavalesco. In 1974, Trinta earned his first title, with the theme “The King of France in the Haunted Island.” The following year he became champion with “King Solomon’s Mines.”

Beija-Flor [1976-1992]:

Beginning in 1976, as part of  Beija-Flor Samba School, Joãosinho Trinta became heralded for his wizardry in  transforming the huge Sambadromo carnival with floats and luxurious costumes.

Indeed, the history of Beija-Flor could be divided into two parts: before and after Trinta. It was here with Beija-Flor where Trinta established himself as the maestro of wonder for Rio Carnaval parades, transforming the huge carnival with amazing floats and luxurious costumes. In 1976 with  ”Dreaming gives Lion King” or the samba-enredo (plot) in honor to the jogo do bicho (the animal game that is an illegal, popular type of lottery gambling in Brazil) that he was credited with the first of three titles in a row followed by “Grandma and the King in the court of the Egyptian  Saturnalia” (1977) and “The creation of the world in the tradition ofNago” (1978).

The blue-and-white Nilopolis again won the 1980  carnival  with the theme “The midnight sun – a trip to Wonderland.” In 1981 with “Carnival in Brazil – the eighth of the seven wonders of the world”, he won second place. and tied for the championship with Imperatiz and Portela in 1983 with “The great constellation of black stars.” The fifth title of champion Beija-Flor was in 1983 with “A large constellation of black stars.” In 1986, new second place with “The world is a ball.”

“I am a

beggar in life, I am a king in the revelry.

Mr. Trinta did not win for his most celebrated presentation which came in 1989 when he surprised the public with the plot Ratos e urubus, larguem a minha fantasia (“Rats and vultures, release my clothes”) bringing to the Sambódromo cars and rows full of trash,  in addition to an infamous a replica of Christ the Redeemer as a beggar, the iconic
figure most associated with Rio de Janeiro. Joãosinho  became engaged in a fight with the Catholic Church to take to the Sapucaí his float
carrying beggars with the Christo. Eventually the Cristo had to be
covered with black plastic but to protest the censorship, he placed a
banner nearby reading: “Even banned, look for us. [“mesmo proibido,
olhai por nós]” Having coined the maxim “Those who like misery
intellectual, poor love luxury”, the carnival was applauded for having
done a show that exposed poverty and waste. As Geomar Leite,
president of the Federal District’s Samba School Union, wrote:

Rats and vultures, get out of my costume, the plot of 1989, was a parade of street characters, including beggars, alcoholics, urchins, crazies and vagrants, which denounced the inequalities and destitution of a country at the edge of collapse because of hyperinflation.

Trinta, who died on Dec. 17, 2011 created the face of modern Carnival. Even President Dilma Rousseff was moved to comment.

“The Carnival of Brazil will be sadder without the joy and talent of Joaosinho Trinta,”

Joãosinho Trinta and Rocketman Eric Scott from Texas USA celebrate Grand Rio's final act of the 2001 Carnaval season with an extraordinary parade on Kennedy Avenue in Caixas RJ


The governor of Rio, Sergio Cabral decreed
three days of official mourning and said;

“Joãosinho Trinta was a great character of the Brazilian Carnival, in particular the Rio Carnival. Visionary artist,  who charmed and surprised everyone with his creations themes and the way a story could be told in the Marques de Sapucaí. He will be remembered for its folk art and his phrase:

“Pobre gosta de luxo; quem gosta de miséria é intelectual”

should be studied in university courses for the elite to
understand its depth”

 Tourism Minister Gastao Vieira acknowledged
at Trinta’s funeral:

“To talk about tourism in Brazil is to also
talk about Carnival,” the O
 newspaper reported. “And to talk about Carnival is
to talk about Joaosinho Trinta.”

But it was another famous phrase of Trinta’s that kept popping up in the coverage after his death — one he coined to explain his vision of Carnival in an era when poverty in Brazil was pervasive. It takes on a new meaning today, in the midst of a consumer boom and the migration of more than 30 million Brazilians from poverty into the lower-middle “Class C,” after a decade of economic growth.”It’s the intellectual who likes misery,” Trinta often said. “The poor like luxury.”(Dom Phillips is the Sao Paulo correspondent for World View. The opinions expressed are his own.)


It was, Leite noted, Trinta’s most “anthological” parade. “He went from
rubbish to luxury. He revolutionized the Rio Carnival, transforming it
into the biggest show on Earth.”

Joãosinho Trinta sums up what the Carnaval embodies as: 

“a full universe of emotions, beauty, vibration, rhythm. It
is a complete universe, where all the classrooms join, where it
has a harmony, an integration, a happiness, a very great
accomplishment. A samba school does not have an enterprise
structure and yet it is the only Brazilian event that has
surpassed all the economic crises and improved more each time.
This spectacle shows the power of the Brazilian.”

The 1989 Beija-Flor presentation only earned the vice-championship or 2nd place -losing to Imperatiz but Joãosinho had become a symbol for the art form of the Sapucaí speaking truth to power and an eternal champion of the parade. As he said the chorus of the samba in Rats and Vultures:
“I am a beggar in life, I am a king in the revelry.”

In the same year, the parade of Joãosinho was also Carnavalesco for
Rocinha in the Access Group, and was champion with the theme “The
splendor of the divine deities.”

In 1989 incensed by model Enoly Lara‘s no-parts covered
apparition, which was taken as a provocation, LEISA  (Independent League
of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro) banned “disrobed genitalia.” That
same Carnaval period Joãozinho Trinta again flirted with controversy
with  his enredo Todo Mundo Nasceu Nu (Everybody Was Born
Naked)  showed dancer Jorge Lafond stark-naked on a
float’s top. The 1990 Beija-Flor enredo finished 2nd.

There was another “naked genitalia” violation in 1992 when Beija-Flor,
under Trinta’s direction saw a naked couple  presented on the Sapucaí
Avenida illustrating the theme “There is a point of light in the
wilderness,” which talked about television.

The year of 1992 was also his last year with the blue-and-white
Nilopolis  samba school. Besides the carnival he was associated with the
direction of the project called the “Flower of Tomorrow”, which
supported street children.  There was a charge  of corruption of minors
and condemned for harboring homosexuals and children in poor conditions.
The following year, hurt, he stepped away from the revelry of Rio and
traveled to Portugal, where he performed at the playhouse Casino Estoril.


Trinta returnedto Rio Carnaval, following the one year hiatus, with
Viradouro in 1994 and was responsible the first and only title the
school from Niteroi has ever achieved. At the Carnaval of  1997, with
the theme “Darkness! Light! The explosion of the universe. ” was a great
triumph. It was a comeback of the carnival as well as the 50th
anniversary of the Samba School from acroos the Bay. A year earlier he
had suffered a stroke that left his right arm paralyzed and added speech
difficulties. According Joãosinho itself, the disease had changed his
behavior and worldview. This would also be his last victory at the

“For me, culture can be spectacle. I have worked
in the carnival to develop a popular culture. The carnival
has a proper language, completely different of cinema,
Rio carnival is a carnival about renewal, protest and the
Brazilian reality.



Rio [2001-2004]:

It was  Joãosinho who put a man in the flight to travel the distance of
the Sapucaí in 2001, when he was in Rio Grande Critics said it had
nothing to do with samba but for Joãosinho he was pleased to introduce
an innovation that added a whole new upper layer of possibility to
his art form. The restlessly innovative Joao was never shy about

Grand Rio still remains very ambitios to win its first championship.
While Trinta was instrumental in elevating Grand Rio to the top tier of
Rio Samba schools he did not think he could again claim another
championship without reforming the judging process. In 2001 the
President of LEISA was also the cheif patron for Imperatriz.   Luizinho
Drumond, a well-known bicheiro was determined  that his escola
de samba Imperatriz Leopoldinense
 should  spare no expense in
securing the win of the Special Carnaval parade for the third
consecutive year. Like a number of the other top special samba schools,
Trinta was upset about judging system which favored the LEISA
President’s samba school and contributed to not allowing Grand Rio to
appear in the Parade of Champions. His response was again unprecedented,
a protest parade.

In the carnival of 2004, a new controversy. The theme “Let’s put on a
condom, my love …”, telling the story of condoms, drew protests from
the Catholic Church. . After surveys of the church and the prohibition
of the prosecution, the court ended up releasing the floats that ended
up going through the avenue covered, some with the word “censored”.
Three floats with sculptures illustrating Kama Sutra positions were
covered up  on the recommendation of state prosecutors.   The school was
only in 10th place and Joãosinho was fired days later as Grand Rio
leadership attempted to assert its moral leadership in a good Catholic

Vila Isael [2005]:

In 2005 Joãozinho Trinta was hired to resurrect the fortunes of
venerable Vila Isabel who were just emerging from the Access group.
However Trinta  suffered a stroke and could not continue working on Vila
Isabel’s samba story about ships that eventually finished in 10th place.
However in 2006, Vila Isabel led with the enredo “Soy loco por ti
America – The town sings the Latin civilization and took their 2nd
championship title. Carnavelesco

Alexandre Louzada

got credit as creative director.  With an infectious chorus, the theme
song of the Vila Isabel was one of the most made the bleachers singing
and, curiously, was what determined the title. The company PDVSA,
Venezuela’s state oil company, funded the carnival of Vila Isabel with a
donation of at least $900,000 Reals. 

Joãosinho gave the look that prevails today in the parade of samba
schools. Before his impact on the special parade, the highlights were
found primarily on the ground floor with the revelers and the
differences were primarily about the costumes and if they were more
luxurious or inspired than the others. Joãosinho put the highlights on
top of the floats and increased the height of the cars.With Joãosinho
the parade became vertical as well as horizontal. He had long started
doing it in Salguerio, but with Beija-Flor the style was consecrated by
widespread imitation.

 Joãosinho Trinta

Long Live the King of Revelry!

In 2010, Joãosinho Trinta was honored in the enredo [story/theme/plot]
of the Grande Rio Samba School, who celebrated 25 years of the Marquis
of Sapucaí  or the samba stadium called the Sambadromo. The allegory of
the Avenue was alluded to in this story “Of mice and vultures leaving my
fantasy.” Joãosinho Trinta paraded at front of the float, representing
the “King of Revelry.”

Beija-Flor has been preparing for months for its Mardi Gras parade of
2012, which will be dedicated to the state of Maranhão and remembering
native son Joãosinho Trinta with a stanza of its samba-plot.  



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