Thursday, April 22, 2010
Brazilians, local author redefine sexy
Thursday, April 22, 2010
By ANN GIBBONS
Sexiness, an American obsession, truly has less to do with showing acres of skin and a lot more to do with exuding sheer attitude with a capital “A.” That is the assured premise of “Brazilian Sexy - How to Live a Gorgeous and Confident Life” by Janea Padilha, written with local author Martha Frankel.
Padilha (whose first name is pronounced “Johnny”) is a member of the renowned J Sisters, who developed the Brazilian wax at their salon on 57th Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City. Frankel, an entertainment and humor writer living in West Shokan, is the filter through which Padilha’s voice emerges.
“I met Janea through my agent in New York. And, I have to say, I’ve never known anyone like her,” Frankel said in a recent candid, but laugher-infused interview in her Boiceville office. “Smiling, self-confident, magnanimous, generous in spirit. And — always — perfectly put together.”
“She was just lovely and I fell in love with her. I knew there was a book there,” she said of the meeting.
The 120-page book, published by the Penguin Group and in bookstores now, is the result of months of conversation between the author and the beauty entrepreneur. “The voice is hers. I’m the filter,” Frankel said.
That confidence, Frankel discovered, is the Brazilian secret to life. “Brazilians are confident in a way we don’t feel,” Frankel said. “We’re always comparing - who’s prettier, richer, thinner, doing better - or not - than me.”
She said Brazilians think, believe, and act the opposite. “Their self confidence is a very elusive thing to explain. It’s not about comparing yourself. It’s about feeling good with what you’ve got.” As Padilha says in one chapter: “No one else can make you feel bad about yourself - you are the only one who can do that.”
As one of 14 children, seven girls and seven boys, the book’s introduction is most telling as Padilha talks about growing up - one day rich, the next day poor as dirt - and what lessons she learned, particularly about the latter.
Her father suddenly lost his wealth, so the family left a beautiful home and piled into a tiny, dilapidated house in town with just three bedrooms, no stove and no hot water. Padilha remembers her mother’s words, “Yes, every meal we will cook on a wood stove in the yard. What an adventure that will be. … Oh, this will be so much fun.” Never, Padilha said, did her mother’s face reveal any fear or resentment at how her life abruptly changed, instead she remembers her mother’s laughter ringing through that little house.
The J Sisters Salon, Frankel said, attracts the rich, the famous, corporate executives, working women and just ordinary types, all sitting, gossiping, laughing, sharing their lives. They come to be made beautiful, but they also come for Padilha’s wisdom and advice.
When asked what she learned from Padilha that she did not put in the book, Frankel laughed and said, “I was born for this age. I love all the information — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — that’s out there that I can get. But, not everyone is like that and it has made me impatient my whole life.”
Frankel said she has always, since a child, been able to do 15 things at once. “I was always tapping my foot, waiting for people to catch up. Janea taught me to be happy that I can do 15 things at once and to stop wasting time comparing myself to what others can’t do, or don’t want to do, even if they could.”
An important lesson that Frankel does write about is Padilha’s “cry therapy.” Her clients tell her they’re sad or they’re feeling blue and Padilha tells them to go home and cry for one hour, then get dressed up and go out. Do this every day for one week.
“So, they do, because Janea tells them to do it. And, after about five days, they’re crying for 10 minutes and going out. By the end of the week, the tears are over, and they’re going out,” Frankel said, adding that Padilha tells clients they need to give in to their feelings, stop pretending everything is great — and cry.
Frankel said, from her conversations with Padilha, she got the message that it’s possible to feel good no matter what’s going on. “Whether you’re heartbroken or dead, flat, broke, you need to figure out what makes you happy.”
Padilha dispenses advice as she makes her clients gorgeous. She’s asked about appearance, relationships and finances. “She’s told clients they’re wasting time with so and so. She never second guesses herself and she’s always right,” Frankel said.
Frankel said Amazon has the book listed under health and beauty, but she believes it’s closer to a self-help book.
“We have to learn to trust our instincts. That’s so easy to forget,” she said.
She said the book went together quickly, because it was so much fun to work with Padilha.
“Our families are very much alike,” she said. “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t talk to my sister, Helene, who also transcribes the tapes of my interviews.”
She said, at first, she read portions of what she had written to Padilha over the phone. “Finally, Janea told me: ‘You’re smart. You’re a writer. Do what you think you should do.’”
Frankel said a variety of factors in her life had converged to make her unhappy about her appearance and she and Padilha had a book signing coming up in New York City. Naturally, she wanted to look great.
“Facebook is a new opportunity to talk with strangers. People I didn’t know before, I know now.” She said she complained on Facebook about how she looked and got a surprising response — and an offer.
She said Daisy Kramer Bolle, who owns DIG in Saugerties, told her on Facebook to come in to the shop and she would dress her for the book signing. She said Kramer Bolle completely changed how she looked — tight jeans and tops — and offered tips on dressing well.
“I walked in (to DIG) dragging and a snappy, fashion plate walked out,” Frankel said. “I looked, and felt, like a million bucks.”
At the book signing and party, Frankel said, about 200 smiling, gracious Brazilians turned out, every one of them elegant and confident.
“And, I looked great and felt great. Like I owned the city,” she said.
For more information, visit http://www.marthafrankel.com.
Posted by Martha Frankel at 9:11 AM