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Patrice and Me

by Rémy Ngamije, images by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo / 18.08.2010

The Convention Centre’s bright lights intuit my bank balance and dim on my entrance. Slender billionaire playboy, Patrice Motsepe, mute BEE poster boy, is arriving soon so the welcoming blaze is being saved for the real money. At the Media desk, I gush with politeness. The heavily mascara’d receptionist recognises a newbie. “Don’t worry,” she says. “It’s not like The Devil Wears Prada!“ it’s just Cape Town Fashion Week.”

The Media/VIP lounge sports photographers and journalists – and no VIP’s. A smattering of beautiful things. Androgynous creatures from a postmodern dream. At the bar the bartender looks at my crinkled bank note like its a fresh turd – before telling me drinks are free, until the tab runs out.

I have on a black dinner suit and a pair of white Nike Air Forces (and I’m smiling) – is that why I feel stared at by the other “VIP’s” in the lounge? Robert Downey Jnr wears sneakers with his suits. Everyone is dressed for the Durban July. Hairstyles resisting replication by James Cameron’s best CGI animator, leather and khaki shorts worn by grown men with blazer and tie, shiny formal shoes. Tall, wispy looking women, in creations that would be laughed at by my middle class comrades, do not even make anyone smirk. Me in your basic twenty-two-year-old-student-out-for-a-night-on-the-town-in-formal-but-not-so-formal-clothing am out of place. I am the freak.

Then my ass is groped. Briefly, almost unnoticeably, hands cup my buttocks, assessing – I spin around ready to elbow the nearest offender in the face. Two muscular beefcakes with arms bigger than my legs say hello. The welcoming committee. Ass and greet. Fair enough.

Cape Town Fashion Week

Finger foods pass by. Good to see the haute-bourgeoisie fight for chow like the rest of us. The menu is Spartan by my non-model standards. All veggies and fish. A voice announces that the show will start in a few minutes. The bouncer asks for my pass. He must have worked quite a few clubs back in the day because he looks at it in a Home Affairs kind of way. He points at my tiny Nikon Coolpix L10. I display it proudly. And he asks if I seriously intend to call myself a photographer with that? So I haven’t got one of those giant telescopic penises professionals are sporting. Eat me. Bemused, he steps aside.

The arena is softly lit. Nameless electro house thonks. All of the best spots along the runway are taken. Penises cocked and ready for the perfect shot. I squeeze in next to a small woman with a camera that could double as a stilt and keep mine in my pocket. A nipple in cold air – I am exposed. “We all have to start somewhere,” she says. We shake hands and settle into the show.

Cape Town Fashion Week

Adverts then a half-naked, skinny creature flaunts a buttock in your face. The Craig Port show wisps by – an ample supply of nipple fodder to keep me interested. Stoned Cherry with Love Moment is amazing though. Bright and vivid. Even the Motsepes, escorted in earlier by the 56th Armed Cavalry, clap. The Southern Sun Swimwear show is all Clifton dolls with crankshaft hips. Swing right, and stall. Will one of them run out of mechanical power and freeze on the catwalk? I leave disappointed.
The shows pass quick – twenty minutes each. Hardly R150 worth of sweat and nipples. We want someone on the cover of TIME to appear for that much skrilla. We want magic. Is this what women feel like in bed – dissatisfied? The crowd seem buzzed. Cape Town doesn’t mind paying that much for a twenty minute show where Big Nuz or HHP don’t even perform!
Photographers soon pack up shop. It’s all over baby. I amble off – boobs in my head. Then a strong hand clamps down on me. Another muscular arm on an even more muscular shoulder. I pray that if my glutes are going to be assessed, this one does not decide to take it further.

The Hand tells me to watch where I am going. Face to face with Patrice Motsepe – my Nikes seem to have landed on one of his tiny polished Italians. Frozen by the hand on my shoulder and locked momentarily in place by my rapid mental calculation of the eye-watering settlement facing me for the unlawful infringement of Patrice’s shoe, I try to apologize. Raising both hands in a weird expression of supplication. Hau sorry baas! He blinks and walks on. Motsepe has left the building. My dusty tread there on his leather like a sign of the people.

Cape Town Fashion Week

*All images © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo.

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