Hailing from Salvador, Brazil, 30-year-old Lucas Paixão published a comic book last month, featuring a Taiwanese “betel nut beauty” as its central figure.
In an interview with NOWnews and The China Post, he acknowledged that the process was quite grueling as he understood being a “betel nut beauty” was a bit of a controversial occupation choice.
However, he believes that society has changed greatly in the past few years and thinks that it’s time for people’s values and thoughts towards certain things to catch up.
Paixao also believes that one shouldn’t discriminate against certain types of occupation based on personal prejudice.
Born in 1990, Paixao has loved to read Japanese comic books and had wanted to be a comic-book artist from the very beginning since childhood.
When the Internet became more prevalent and accessible, Paixao began searching online for Japanese cartoons’ theme songs, and accidentally downloaded a music video of Taiwanese girl pop group, S.H.E.
From there Paixao has begun to learn Chinese from these songs and other Taiwanese TV shows.
In 2014, Paixao started pursuing a master’s degree at the Taipei National University of Arts.
However, he began to realize that some people did not deem “comic-book drawings” as art or categorized it as part of a “lower-class” art form.
Determined to change their minds, Paixao decided to use bodies as canvases and portrayed his artwork through his models.
To Paixao, every body is a different canvas and people have different reactions to bodies; therefore, giving the stories being told many unique interpretations.
The first time Paixao heard of “betel nut beauties” was when watching the Taiwanese movie, “Help Me Eros.”
In the film, the main character sold betel nuts in a glass store, and Paixao initially thought the storyline was merely fiction, and not based on a real occupation.
When he arrived in Taiwan, he was shocked to find that there were actual “betel nut beauties”.
A contemporary of Paixao has been quoted describing his creations and depictions of betel nut beauties as vibrant characters that succeed in enticing feelings of happiness, sadness, curiosity and confusion from his readers.
Although his stories are most uplifting, Paixao’s life has not been without its challenges.
As a person of color coming from a single-parent household, he has faced his fair share of discriminatory acts and gazes.
This led him to appreciate Taiwan even more and deem it as a peaceful and harmonious nation.
To him, Taiwan is accepting and tolerant, which enables him to create art freely, without restriction.
Here, Paixao holds the conviction that though the road may be tough, as long as one holds out, dreams do come true.