RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazilian model Angela Bismarchi will dance nearly nude ahead of a 300-person drum corps in next month’s Carnival parade, hoping her sculpted beauty as a “percussion queen” will lead her samba group to the championship.
But she has another goal in mind as well.
In preparation for Rio’s five-day Carnival blowout in February, she’s having her 42nd plastic surgery — closing in on the Guinness World Record of 47 surgical procedures held by 52-year-old American Cindy Jackson, who calls herself a “Living Doll” and now promotes her own skincare line.
“I always was vain,” Bismarchi, 36, acknowledges at the medical clinic near Rio where her plastic surgeon husband has operated on her 10 times. “And for carnival, you have to feel especially pretty.”
Just days before Brazil’s Feb. 2-6 carnival begins, Bismarchi will have nylon wires implanted in her eyes to give them an Asian slant, in line with this year’s theme of her samba group, Porto da Pedra: the centennial of Japanese immigration to Brazil.
Bismarchi’s unabashed passion for plastic surgery has made her a celebrity in this image-mad country, where even the poor get surgical enhancements on the installment plan. Brazilians see no shame in touching up their bodies, which are routinely exposed at carnival and flaunted on the beach in thong bikinis so tiny they’re called “dental floss.”
Born poor in Rio, Bismarchi had her first cosmetic surgery in 1992 after her daughter was born. She was just 21, but said she was depressed after nursing caused her breasts to sag. So she had them lifted, adored the results, and became so fascinated with cosmetic surgery that her next two husbands were plastic surgeons.
“I put in a prosthesis and loved it. I was beautiful and sensual again,” Bismarchi said, a striking figure at 6 feet — taller in white high heels — with long blond hair flowing over her white minidress.
Carnival has a special place in Bismarchi’s career.
She first made headlines in 2000, when police tried to arrest her after she paraded partly nude with the Brazilian flag painted on her body.
“I became famous all over,” she said. “The power of carnival is amazing.”
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Two years later, she paraded with the face of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva painted across her exposed body. Police released her after she explained it was a gesture to Silva’s anti-hunger program.
A wardrobe malfunction at last year’s carnival put Bismarchi back in the news — when her G-string broke and dangled from her waist, Porto da Pedra was threatened with a penalty for total nudity, forbidden under parade rules. But the resourceful Bismarchi hid from the judges behind the drum section, changed her tiny “sex cover” and finished the parade.
Today, Bismarchi promotes an exclusive line of sexy lingerie, gives beauty tips and responds to the 500 to 700 letters and e-mails she receives each day. To care for her famous figure, she does two and a half hours of exercise daily, takes dance lessons and spends hours tanning on the beach.
“I consider myself quite timid. I’m just a little girl grown big,” she said. “I never imagined I would be famous. Things just happened.”
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