The immediate future of Brazilian queer cinema may not look to rosy right now after the vitriolic homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro has recently declared that government funds will now be withheld from cinema projects containing LGBTQ content. Hopefully this (and he) will not last long as Brazil has become such a valuable source for such excellent queer movies’
“Copa 181” is the writing/directing feature debut of Dannon Lacerda a new Brazilian filmmaker and is centered around a small gay sauna and the regulars who seem to spend more time here each day than at their own homes.
There is Taná (Carlos Takeshi) and his wife Eros (Simone Mazzer) who make for an odd couple. She aspires to be an Opera SInger which is certainly not qualified to be, so takes the occasional gig singing in bars and even at the Sauna. Taná is bored running a hardware store, but as he gets no affection or physical contact at home he pays a visit to the sauna every night where he is happy to pay for what he is missing
The other inhabitants of Copa 181 are hustlers like Leo (Caetano O’Maihlan) a married man with kids to support who insists that his ‘johns’ know that he is not gay , even though he will have sex with them. He is also having an affair with trans sauna employee Kika (Silvero Pereira) who dotes on him and so willingly hands over any money she has. There are other hustlers in the sauna such as Davi who will go the extra mile to please his ‘johns’ because the pickings are usually quite lean.
Lacerda script focuses on being a character study of these intriguing customers and rent boys and as such the plot lines are light at best, but somehow it still all comes over as very engaging. Naturally there is a lot of nudity and Lacerda uses his camera creatively to ensure that all the scenes of intimacy come over as hot and erotic.
Lacera’s wee film belongs back in the heyday of gay saunas has well and truly past, but the ones like Copa 181 that remain, remind of us of a time when you actually saw men in the flesh before hooking up, unlike today’s online aps where things are never what you see,