Julia Lira

*She is the Shirley Temple of samba, a 7-year-old named to a coveted Carnival role normally reserved for barely clad models who have undergone more plastic surgeries than little Julia Lira has seen birthdays.

Naming the girl drum corps queen for the Viradouro samba group is raising eyebrows even in a city that has seen everything during the annual mega-party that begins next week.

A judge is considering blocking Julia’s participation. A state agency that defends children’s rights says she’s too young to take on a traditionally sexy role. But the girl’s father, who happens to be the president of the Viradouro group, says Julia is a natural who can easily samba through the 80-minute parade route in Rio’s sweltering summer heat.

“Any man who looks at a 7-year-old child and feels any sort of excitement should go see a doctor,” Marco Lira said before rehearsal this week. “She has the aptitude to be a drum corps queen – you’ll see it tonight. She has a seriousness inside of her when she is on the stage.”

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