Xuxa is a Brazilian model, actress, singer, and children's television show host. Born Maria da Graça Meneghel on March 23, 1963, in Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Xuxa (pronounced "shoo-sha") was the highest-paid Brazilian performer even before her children's show Xou da Xuxa was picked up by the Fox Network in 1992 for broadcast in the United States. Xuxa first came to public attention in Brazil in 1978 as a model for the national photo magazine Manchete (Headline), in which she, a tall blonde, was a striking contrast to most Brazilian models. In 1980 she made further headlines as the girlfriend of soccer star Pelé and by appearing nude in the Brazilian edition of Playboy and in films such as Amor Estranho Amor by Walter Khoury (1982), which features Xuxa in a sex scene with a young boy. At about this time, the Brazilian press began comparing her with Marilyn Monroe. In 1983 she hosted a children's television show called Clube da Criança (Children's Club) for the Manchete Television Network, in which she was presented as a sex symbol, wearing miniskirts and short shorts. As a television personality, she is known for her ingenuousness, spontaneity, and what critics call a permissive approach to children's entertainment. She moved to Brazil's TV Globo in 1986 to obtain broader exposure on a much more widely watched network. The Xou da Xuxa show became slicker, and certain trademarks, like Xuxa blowing kisses (beijinhos) to the audience increased. As with other Globo stars, her records, concerts, and movies were cross-marketed by Globo television and radio stations. She also began merchandizing a wide variety of products under her name and image. In 1990 production of her show moved to Argentina for the Latin American and Hispanic U.S. markets. Then in 1992, her show was packaged for syndication in English in the United States and was picked up by the Fox Network for early-morning daily broadcast in 1993. She has also starred in a number of commercially successful movies, including Xuxa Requebra (1999) and Xuxa Popstar (2000). Xuxa won the Latin Grammy for Best Latin Children's Album two years in a row for Xuxa Só Para Baixinhos volume 2 (2002) and volume 3 (2003). For many critics, Xuxa symbolizes a Brazilian ethnic and sexual identity contradiction between a blond ideal and a brown reality.
See alsoRadio and Television .
Amelia Simpson, Xuxa: The Mega-Marketing of Gender, Race, and Modernity (1993).
Fragata, Cássia, and Ana Lúcia Neiva. Xuxa. São Paulo: Artemeios, 2001.
Kinder, Marsha, ed. Kids' Media Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.
Valdivia, Angharad N. A Latina in the Land of Hollywood and Other Essays on Media Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000.
Joseph D. Straubhaar