September 18, 1999

Brazil kids' TV queen to lead  anti-drug campaign

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -- An ex-porn star turned queen of Brazilian children's television has been picked by U.S.-based Drug Watch International to lead a campaign against drugs, media reports said on Saturday.

Xuxa (pronounced Shoo-sha) Meneghel, 36, is one of Latin America's best-paid entertainers. Her flamboyant conduct has often generated widespread media coverage.

She will be the advocacy group's model in its anti-drug ads and posters.

"I was never a drinker nor a smoker and I've never done drugs. I've never been involved in prostitution either," Xuxa told Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. "I'm a winner and those who follow me should also become victorious."

Xuxa recently engaged in a war of words with the country's health minister after he criticised her decision to be a single mother.

The minister said Xuxa set a bad example for her millions of adolescent fans by choosing to have her daughter, Sasha, out of wedlock.

Xuxa in turn accused the minister of failing to do his job, saying the country's health system was a mess.

Xuxa hosts a TV talk show with celebrities, and a children's programme in which she dances and sings with youngsters on stage.

Drug Watch International promotes drug-free cultures around the world and opposes the legalisation of drugs.