Enneagram & Music: Ney Matogrosso

In a career of more than forty years now, Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso has carved a place for himself among that rare breed of artists who manage to find a niche of their own while enjoying high levels of popularity.

This by no means happened by accident, and it can be seen clearly even in his first years, when he was the lead singer of the legendary Secos & Molhados. Everything he’s been about since then was already there, but the most important one is a deliberate defiance of expectations in the name of freedom of expression.

It isn’t for anything that, in spite of all the praise he’s received over the years, he’s always seen himself almost as an outsider in the music industry — or, better yet, a truly unclassifiable artist.

Which, for me, fits perfectly with my belief that he’s a Sexual Six in the Enneagram.

today I woke up in fear, but I didn’t cry

Each of the names commonly given to Sixes reveals traits that are more characteristic of a certain subtype than the others: “the Loyalist”, “the Doubter”, “the Devil’s Advocate”, and so on. What all these names have in common, though, is that they express a search for having a strong sense of security.

Their worldview is that there are potential threats everywhere; hence, their characteristic passion is fear. However Sixes decide to present themselves to the outside world, there is always an awareness of what might go wrong, which prompts them to be constantly alert.

Not all Sixes are outwardly fearful, though, and this is particularly true of Sexual Sixes, who go out of their way to show strength and intimidate other people to avoid being attacked. That’s why this subtype is considered one of the countertypes of the Enneagram: instead of being phobic, they are counterphobic.

oh God, how I’d wish this dude would be a man

There are many examples of this dynamic in Ney Matogrosso’s life and career, but the account of his relationship with his father is such a crystalline one that it almost seems as if it was designed to be written for an Enneagram book.

According to Ney, his father, who was a military man, couldn’t accept anything other than his way. To his great displeasure, he had a son who deviated from his expectations in more than one way, most notably because of Ney’s early interests in different artistic manifestations.

His father was probably concerned about Ney’s sexuality as well, although it would take a while for Ney himself to be aware of his preferences in that realm. In any case, tensions between the two of them grew to the point of a fight when Ney was 15. When he was 17, he left home for good.

He immediately joined the Air Force, which had something to do with his type’s concerns about feeling safe. Although he saw that move as basically a practical way to be as far from his old home as possible, I find it ironic that he didn’t have any inner conflicts about joining such a structured environment.

After leaving the Air Force, he would work in different areas until deciding to become an actor somewhere in the sixties. Living as a hippie, it was then that he really explored his own sexuality — marked by a strong preference for other men — and discovered psychedelic drugs.

As far as I can tell, though, there wasn’t that much rock ’n’ roll for him during those days. This would have to wait until the early seventies, when he took part in Secos & Molhados, a band that would soon reach unprecedented levels of success all over the country.

the counter-spring that resists

As a fan, there’s a lot I could say about them, but even myself will probably never be able to fully grasp how it must have felt, at the height of the military dictatorship in Brazil, to witness those three painted men on stage, with the lead singer — with his distinctly thin voice — moving in very provocative ways.

Secos & Molhados live (most likely in 1973)

As I said in the beginning of this text, even then Ney was highly defiant of expectations. Although the way he sang and moved were suggestive of high doses of sexuality, he’s said that he saw himself as a hybrid creature, beyond male and female, and more like an animal than a human being.

Of course, even if the military understood that artistic vision, they certainly didn’t like what they saw. Ney has recalled that, during those times, he received many “messages” from people who said that he should be, for his own good, more discrete.

His response to those warnings was very typical of a Sexual Six: “the more messages I received, the more I exceeded myself”. And this is part of the reasons why his stage presence, more than merely provocative, could even be considered aggressive.

Unfortunately, due to some serious personal differences between its three band members, the original incarnation of Secos & Molhados would last few years. Still, since then Ney has kept true to his commitment to being free to express himself and not being subject to any sort of predetermined constraints.

the world is a mill

A great example of that came in the second half of the eighties. Tired of always presenting himself as a sparsely-dressed provocative beast on stage, he went through a phase in which he did the opposite: he dressed in a suit, and made use of a more restrained body language.

The cover of his 1987 live album Pescador de Pérolas

By the way, that type of non-conformity has extended itself to the socio-political sphere too. Ney’s always been open about his sexuality, but he’s never wanted anything to do with any movement related to that, as it would highly increase the chances of him being pigeonholed.

Actually, considering his many sexual and romantic affairs over the years, it was somewhat surprising for me to hear him describing himself as a “measured” person — in the sense that he prefers to observe than to be observed.

But that actually makes sense when we consider that, in his early years, the main reason for him painting his face was that he didn’t want people to know who he was. Maybe not so much because of shyness, but because — as is typical for Sixes — he wanted to live the life of a common person.

Still, as it’s probably become obvious by now, his stage presence has been anything but “common”, and he’s actually admitted more recently that this persona he created was a (kind of unconscious) way for him to deal with his own contained aggressiveness.

a cry, a release

As we saw, Sixes frequently play out worst-case scenarios in their minds. This can be quite stressful in itself, but, for the very aggressive Sexual Six, the added fear of not being able to deal with his/her own ferocious responses can even lead them to seriously doubt their own sanity.

For Ney, his stage persona has helped him to, in his own words, “let it all out”. Of course, this is very common among many performing artists, and not all of them are Sixes. There’s a common acknowledgment that art can be an escapism for both the audience and (perhaps even more so) the performer.

But Ney has also recognized that his fierce behavior on stage came from his fear of the audience, and such acknowledgment can be considered a victory in itself. Many Sixes, due to their type’s characteristic fixation of projection, frequently fail to make these crucial distinctions.

Over the years, though, he’s gradually learned that he didn’t need to resort to that “get them before they get you first” mentality. After all, (most) people who go to his concerts like the way he is. More than anything, they enjoy the freedom with which he expresses himself.

Which is why Ney has repeatedly said over the years: “Don’t satisfy yourselves with my manifestation, manifest yourselves.”