Corporate Shill Festby Brandon Edmonds, images by Jasmine Seef / 09.07.2010
We need reminders. Mine was a good black suit I’d bought off eBay years ago and hadn’t worn much thanks to my yo-yo girth. Recent weight loss (thanks to the transformative wonders of British Military Fitness on the Sea Point promenade) meant it fit. Only just though. The waistband ate into my hips. It reminded me of who I really am (a jobbing writer with good hair, failing teeth and no discernable assets) atop Penthouse 1 of Sol Kerzner’s One & Only hotel on the Waterfront. That gut throb, a Johnny Cash-like ring of fire, kept me grounded in a place where suites go for R50 000 a night.
A certain property powerhouse, it rhymes with disbelief, is selling Penthouse 1 for a rumored R110 million, “decidedly affordable” according to the powerhouse’s benumbingly affable CEO. So they threw an investor party – a property circus for the moneyed and well-heeled – to flog the thing. Mahala went along, why, because is the greatest phrase in the English language not “open bar”?
I wore sneakers, stared at the routinely hot service staff, and avoided the Nobu platters (a couple of California rolls on top of several imported lagers and my trousers and I were going to have a serious talk). There were Paris Hilton rumors (I wanted to ask her if it was Linda Lovelace who taught her to deep throat like that). There were Mick Jagger whispers (I had hoped to ask him what Marianne Faithful tasted like in 1968, or Bianca in the 70s: spicy, creamy?). Would Leo Di Caprio show? (I’d have ignored him for the thankless hours I sunk into Titanic).
Nobody worth showing showed though. Big names can smell a corporate shill fest quicker than Jim Crow pooches can an escaped con. Instead we got “former Miss Universe” Michelle McLean and Olympian Ryk Neethling. They naturally gravitated towards each other, ordained by the tractor beam of genetic attraction. It instantly felt like high school. Our species requires their mating. If 2012 really is the end for us, they ought to be sedated and shot off into space to seed new worlds. She’s tall enough to pluck soccer balls off roofs. He’s lean as veal with the kind of bluntly rude health that makes speckled teens flush. I’m sure it’s the love of Jesus not a burning waistband that keeps those two grounded.
“I should probably know who you are,” I tell the lead singer of the live band. She turns out to be Felicia Mabuza Suttle’s spawn. Lindiwe has an American accent and an admirable ability to consistently say no to carbohydrates. I’ve never been around someone with as much bare naked hunger and replete self-regard. Dating her would be like babysitting a panther – thrilling, but there’d be blood. She can sing a bit too. Her mother, whose talons are as castrating as ever, I keep imagining her slashing babies to death in a manga maternity ward, tells me she’s just about single-handedly responsible for the surprising amount of American interest in the World Cup. “I tell them Durban is Miami, Joburg is New York and Cape Town is Monte Carlo. Americans need comparisons!” I want to bellow at her that people died for her gormless sins. Kids were shot in the streets not far from Penthouse 1. That if you want comparisons I could mention a horse’s ass and her vacuous career. Instead we hug and I notice the one and only Danny De Vito.
Oh no, it’s just Solomon Kerzner. The hobbit-like host. The man behind the hotel. He’s tiny and gray. Part of me wants to pat his head and go coochy coo, while the other wants to wrestle him to the floor and yell, Sun City motherfucker! Queen! How could you! Now hand over the vintage Anneline nudie snaps, or I’ll throw you off the deck. Shorty! Instead we take a picture together. He has the dreamlike self-distillation of the truly wealthy. All that’s left for him to discover is whatever lurks within him – the rest of the world is his oyster bar.
And that’s about it, really. You can imagine the view. 360 degrees of Cape Town at night. The new white candy wheel, the glamorous Spielbergian stadium, the eternal magic mountain, and all the slumped squashed suburbs with their working wounded, and the cold dark sea, blacker than black. I thought about R110 million, and how unimaginable it is for the majority of us, how obscene, and in the lift descending, returning to earth, I secretly undid my pants and farted.
* All images © Jasmine Seef.