EFF ONE

A German reader contacted me recently and told me a "choke" and I think you will appreciate the humour. Young Wolfgang was at school one day and the teacher asked all the children in the class to explain what their fathers did for a living. The typical answers came out: fireman, policeman, doctor, salesman, captain of industry and so on. But young Wolfie was uncharacteristically quiet and so the teacher asked him what his father did for a living.

"My father is an exotic dancer in a gay club and takes off all his clothes in front of other men," said Wolfgang, turning rather red. The teacher spluttered and set the other children some work to do and took little Wolfie aside to ask him if his story was really true.

"No" said Wolfgang, "Earlier this year, he was in charge of reliability for Mercedes F1 engines. I was just too embarrassed to say."

I was reminded of this "choke" on evening in Sao Paulo as I was leaving the circuit and encountered one of the city's famous girly-boys. It is amazing to me that a country which boasts so many attractive women also boasts a high number of these curious she-males. This particular transvestite had made a rather poor attempt to disguise his gender, with what appeared to be a pillow stuffed up his jumper. He was wearing a dirty raincoat and I could not help but notice that he had one blue boot and one red boot. From this I concluded that he was an Alex Wurz fan.

The old dear (the girly-boy not Alex W) was definitely past his sell-by date and had apparently spent so much time pretending to be a woman, that he had actually gone as mad as one.

On the subject of shoes, Formula 1's very own artist in residence, Jill Bradley was given an interesting job at the weekend, spending Friday sitting in the Renault hospitality area hand-painting a pair of Alonso's racing boots. Jill had gone for a very pretty floral pattern, but a team insider told me this was in fact the second attempt as the first had been rejected for being too feminine. Do me a favour! The youngest ever F1 World Champion looks as though he needs to shave every fifteen minutes and could wear a Ra-Ra skirt and fishnet stockings and still not look in the least bit feminine.

That would have livened things up a bit. Maybe it's down to everyone being tired as we approach the 18th and 19th hurdles in this long season, but no one seemed to be very interested in the usual Brazilian partying. This year, the most exciting event I came across was a Barbie Doll Convention in the local shopping mall. It set me wondering which Barbie Dolls the Formula 1 drivers would want to own. Michael Schumacher would have "Show-jumping Barbie," Kimi would go for "Barmaid Barbie" while rumour has it that the Red Bull drivers would each want a full set. I have heard it said that one driver would like Ken rather than Barbie.

Of course, every clever girl knows that the best Barbie to ask Santa for is "Divorced Barbie" because she comes with Ken's house and Ken's car.

I did have a look around for a Nymphomaniac Barbie but it seems that they were either sold out or the model had been withdrawn from service (if you see what I mean). It was a bit like that all weekend because Sao Paulo is a city which is busy cleaning up its act these days.

The week before the F1 circus rolled into town, former mayor Paulo Maluf, who used to have a high profile with the F1 crowd was in town, turned himself into the local cops to answer allegations that he illegally transferred $161m into dodgy bank accounts and then tried to intimidate a witness during the investigation. The police said "Thanks" and put him in jail.

Since Maluf's days the mayors have included Marta Suplicy, a prominent TV sexologist, but at the start of 2005 Jose Serra took over and pledged to clean up the city. Lewdness is, apparently, a thing of the past. This year as I left the circuit I found a leaflet for a nightclub called Romanza stuck under my windscreen wiper blade. Last year the club ran a poster campaign for a post-GP party that featured a driver with his race suit down around his ankles. This year's campaign went further with a lady, apparently an embroidery specialist, taking a very close look at the seams on the front of a racing suit (complete with driver) at crotch level. This was banned on the grounds that it went too far. Apparently microscopic embroidery makes you go blind.

As a punishment for this raunchy advertising, several clubs were closed by the city and blocks of concrete were even placed outside the buildings to stop the hordes or F1 from breaking and entering. I gather that several of the lady employees had to be treated for fainting fits, brought on by not having enough blood running to their heads because they were spending un-typically long periods of time standing upright.

For all of its faults, Brazil does have an amazing number of very pretty women and the concept of Red Bull bringing 10 of its "Unas" into the paddock to pretty up the place seemed like taking your own home-hewn cheese sandwiches to a five star restaurant. To be fair, Red Bull did managed to find 10 lovely Brazilian girls none of whom appeared to be professional, which I thought was quite an achievement although I am told that nowadays it is possible to chat up a girl in a bar without her pimp grinning menacingly at you from across the room.

Cleaner thoughts have not really led to cleaner air and the city maintains air which one can not only see and smell but also taste. However, the roads are being improved and now it is impossible to park your entire rental car in a pot-hole, although the bumps one encounters are still bad enough to leave you with a slightly broken neck.

All these changes mean that Sao Paulo feels less dangerous than once it did. The days of regularly coming across a gun battle on the way to the circuit are now history. Rubens Barrichello claimed in an FIA Press Conference that Sao Paulo is now less dangerous than London and I guess he had a point given what happened to one Brazilian on a tube train in London not so long ago. These days, if you want to get mugged and shot, the place to go is Rio de Janeiro where a stroll along one of the famous beaches will see you relieved of all your valuables - and perhaps even a kidney - by desperate locals before you can even say "Holy Renal Failure Batman".

This was obviously something that the folk at BAR are unable to say as in recent days they have been taken to the cleaners by the fabulous Williams negotiating team which only allowed BAR to have Jenson Button after it had promised to hand over all the team's budget, wallets and clothing.

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