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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Brazil Businessman Profits on Decadence

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- It would be easy to label Brazil's self-proclaimed entrepreneur of pleasure, Oscar Maroni Filho: brash, immoral and indecent.

Just don't call him a hypocrite.

The psychologist-turned-businessman publishes the Brazilian version of adult magazine Penthouse and owns one of Sao Paulo's most notorious cabarets, where men can chat up working girls in a mixed-sex sauna and, if need be, rent a per-hour room upstairs.

He also claims to have slept with 1,500 women, calls himself a visionary businessman and says he is one of Sao Paulo's best ranchers.

"I may be immoral and indecent, but I am not a hypocrite, and I don't do anything illegal."

Whether it be the luxury hotel in the works or his bold marketing tactics, Maroni likes to play the larger-than-life rebel like his heroes Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt, the publishers of Playboy and Hustler magazines. "I'm not a humble man and I don't want to be," Maroni says. "You could say I have everything a man dreams about."

But the 50-year-old father of four also wants to spread the good life around and poke some holes in what he sees as the hypocrisies of Brazilian life while he's at it.

His most headline-grabbing move yet has been hiring 94-year-old Dercy Goncalves -- a raunchy comedian who appeared topless in Rio's famous Carnival parades last year -- to appear in the nude.

Maroni says the photos, expected in December or January, will be part of a larger spread spotlighting the hypocrisy and double standards in Brazilian attitudes about sex, the elderly, teachers and police.

"You can't expect much from a society in which those who work their whole life, those who protect us and those who educate us -- police, teachers and the retired -- have the lowest salaries," Maroni says.

His latest media assault is a grim one: calling attention to the rampant crime that plagues Sao Paulo, which, at 55 per 100,000, has the second-highest homicide rate in Latin America.

Close to his hotel under construction, Maroni erected a billboard saying: "You could be the next one murdered: React. Get out of your passivity in an intelligent way and within the law."

The statement is emphasized by the four mannequins that hang beneath the billboard.

Maroni made his first mark in Brazil's "pleasure" industry with Bahamas, a pricey version of the night club/saunas common in Brazil and greatly popular with visiting businessmen.

It is among the largest adult entertainment centers in Latin America, visited by 350 men and 150 women a day, and one of the best known clubs of its type in Sao Paulo, the continent's largest city.

Between the club and a cattle-breeding ranch, Maroni's company, Oscar's World, sees about 9 million reais ($3.2 million) in sales per year.

His next project is Oscar's Hotel, a 13-story 227-room complex.

Aside from the usual amenities of five-star hotels, Maroni has thrown some unusual features, including a piranha-filled aquarium, a cattle auction house and a museum devoted to sexuality.

"It's a hotel focused on hedonism. Hedonism doesn't mean only sex, it means the good things in life," Maroni says.