SAO PAULO — Brushing back freshly dyed blond hair as she posed for pictures, the Brazilian woman whose short pink dress got her kicked out of college said Tuesday she's enjoying her newfound fame, but wants go back to school — with a security guard.
Just the day before, 20-year-old Geisy Arruda took her first trip on an airplane so she could relive her experience in a comedy skit on one of Brazil's most popular television shows.
Star-struck business executives on the flight to Rio de Janeiro asked if she really was Geisy, then used their cell phones to snap pictures of themselves with her.
It was heady stuff for a 20-year-old freshman from a blue-collar industrial suburb who says she just wants to get a tourism degree so she can fulfill dreams of working for a resort or a cruise line someday.
Taunted by male students
She'd already appeared on two of Brazil's top interview programs, recounting how she was hounded from the campus of Bandeirantes University in October by male students yelling "Whore! Whore!" and was then expelled by school officials.
The private university, which doesn't have a conservative reputation, backtracked amid a national uproar and said last week she was welcome to return for her regular routine of night classes.
But Arruda's lawyer says she won't go back until she's promised a well-trained security guard to accompany her on campus.
Wearing a black halter top with dressy eggplant-colored satin shorts for an interview with The Associated Press, the daughter of a cleaning company supervisor and a housewife beamed after finding out the AP is an American news agency.
"How cool!" she gushed just before the start of the interview in her lawyer's office.
Then to the photographer as she adjusted her lengthy tresses and took a last look at her brightly painted red nails: "Hey guy, do I look pretty?"
She said she's still stumped that an outfit, no matter how short, would cause such an uproar in a tropical nation where skimpy clothing and tiny bikinis barely raise an eyebrow.
And she again denied the university's claim that she paraded provocatively and raised the dress, resulting in the expulsion.
‘It was total terror’
Arruda said one young man said he liked her looks, then more joined in. Soon other students loudly proclaimed they wanted to have sex with her, snapping pictures with their cell phones. Hundreds were drawn to the scene, creating a sort of mob mentality, Arruda said. Chants of "Whore! Whore!" erupted from the mob as she was escorted from the university in a borrowed white lab coat.
"It was total terror," Arruda recalled. "And the worst thing was that I had no idea why it was happening."
"I think they just didn't want to study and this was fun for them, the big happening at school for the year, and I was just the joke of the year," Arruda said.
Arruda said she had worn the dress to classes once before, in March, with no reaction.
The evening of Oct. 22 started like any other. She got to her parents' home after finishing work at a cashier's job where she makes 400 reals ($235 monthly), thinking about what she would wear before heading to campus on a public bus. Arruda said she chose the dress because she was heading to a birthday party with friends after class.
After fleeing the campus in tears, she hasn't returned. A spokeswoman for the university said Tuesday that students who scared and ridiculed her in the near riot won't be expelled.
The university has promised to monitor her security, but won't comment on the demand for a personal guard, said the spokeswoman who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy.
‘Like a real strange, stupid movie’
Arruda is convinced her future is in tourism, and now she might get a job more easily, whether she eventually graduates from Bandeirantes University or not.
"Imagine me abroad," she said with another big smile. "Maybe living in Portugal; it'd be great, different from how I grew up. Tourism is fascinating, I could work on a cruise ship, maybe at a resort, or a travel agency."
Above all, she said, she wants to make more money to help her parents move from the roughly built concrete block home they expanded bit by bit over the years to accommodate a growing family after moving to Sao Paulo from Brazil's impoverished northeast about 30 years ago.
She sees the fame she gained in Brazil and across the planet after her story went wild on the Internet as a funny twist of fate.
"I still can't believe it," she said. "It's like a real strange, stupid movie."
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