"Who's That?" Brazilians Fail To Recognize Politicians In Carnaval Masks

Stores sell costumes that are supposed to like president Bolsonaro and other high-profile politicians, but there is no resemblance

São Paulo
A Jair Bolsonaro mask for sale at costume shops in downtown São Paulo - Clauber Larre/Folhapress

"Is that Silvio Santos? Looks like him!"

The costume shop saleswoman, in downtown São Paulo, tries to decipher whose face is depicted in the R$10 mask she has in her hands.

"It's a younger Silvio," says the customer, referring to a famous Brazilian TV personality. 

It's not him. The mask is supposed to be of president Jair Bolsonaro. But none of the ten people present in the store recognizes him.

The same need for a political renewal that elected Bolsonaro and created a host of first-time ministers and senior officers had an unexpected side effect on Carnaval sales: a batch of masks depicting politicians that nobody recognizes.

At the store next door, another saleswoman turns to the mask of a round-faced, black-haired man, hanging on the wall.

"They say that's [Justice minister] Moro, right? Only if it's an overweight version of him," she said.

"Looks to me like that chubby dude from the House [Rodrigo Maia, elected House speaker for the third time]," says the customer, student Jonas Marcusso.

The usual assortment of politicians' masks for Carnaval didn't come out as planned this year, as the factory owner himself is the first to acknowledge. Pierre Sfeir, from Studio das Fantasias, says something unexpected happened this time.

"Our modeler didn't get it right," said Sfeir, who also owns three of the largest costume stores in downtown São Paulo.

He said the masks went into production due to popular demand. "Back in January, every day at least ten people asked me if we were going to have Bolsonaro or Moro masks."

He will likely have new masks made before next year's Carnaval, but there is no time to fix them for the upcoming holiday.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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