These are mostly amateurs, though, out for the day.
They would not want to be called travestis, a word that, in Brazilian Portuguese, normally implies a sex worker. The travestis, it has been argued, shape themselves deliberately in the image of the sexual fantasies of their patrons, the respectably-dressed middle-aged men peering out of the windows of shiny cars that cruise along the avenue where they are on parade.
For professional travestis the partial inversion of social order that is one of the features of carnival - and the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure that accompanies it - are a year-round phenomenon. By this interpretation they are not freaks; they are walking embodiments of the perverse desires of these patrons, soi-disant straight men.