Playground of the Black and Richby Lindokuhle Nkosi / 16.11.2011
This is the gilded city. The gold leaf sticks to the tips of your fingers, to the hem of your clothing like glittery black jacks. This is the city of the happy, shiny ones. The sheen, a coloured flourescent afterglow. In one of the greenest cities of the world, the wildlife gathers around clubs in various tones of animal. Leopard skin-tight dress, crocodile on the shoes, ostrich on the bag and horse on the head. They preen themselves in the bathroom mirror, fluffing their feathers when a suitable (sizeable) wallet walks by. In the sub-saharan Eldorado everybody is almost famous.
I’m on time. I’m walking up the stairs to La Lunar club in Bryanston for a Giggs Superstar video shoot. It’s wedged in between “authentic-looking” Tuscan-styled office blocks; a car wash, restaurants and the club. I’m already out of place. In the past few years, the space above Lolly Jackson’s car wash (creatively named Jackson’s) has changed names, styles and ownership about five times. Now it’s the playground of the black and rich. The Blingola spawn in fake red-bottom heels. It’s 13h30, the shoot was meant to start an hour ago, but the club is as empty as the Johannesburg streets come festive season. A guy with a curly half-fro stares transfixed into his Macbook screen. I walk over, introduce myself, and ask him who he is.
“I’m Mario. The singer.” he responds bitterly. I’m confused. Are Mario and Giggs Superstar the same person? Isn’t Giggs Superstar black? Is Mario his pre-glam alter ego?
A few other people are milling about on the balcony outside, smoking; awkwardly trying to look like they do this shit all the time. They are mostly media, here to cover the shoot, except for the dude who drives the Adidas party bus. No-one here is involved in the shoot. We wait. Two girls arrive – failed models turned make-up artists, and the men who were previously catatonic are suddenly alive and rejuvenated.
“So what are you doing after the shoot? I own a Thai massage parlour that’s just down road. You should come through.” I eavesdrop.
“Free massage, oh my god. What’s a happy ending? If it’s free, I’m soooo in.”
The conversation inevitably defaults to happy-ending packages, as the girls gush, blush and bum cigarettes. Finally, an organiser arrives. She briefs the make-up artists, it does not occur to her to fill us in on the details of the obviously sliding schedule. I corner her as she sets up the snack table – two packets of Pick ‘n Pay muffins, a six-pack of cokes and a few bottles of water. “Sorry, we’re running a little late. Had some model drama. The leading lady dropped us this morning and we had to find someone to replace her,” she says. This someone else also isn’t here yet.
Giggs Superstar, who is not Mario, is in the make-up chair. He is the DJ who produced the track. Quiet, unassuming – as if humbled that everyone has gone through all this effort for him. Mario, sorry Mario Ogle, (I’ve been told to address him by his name and surname, lest someone confuse him with the American R’n’B singer of the same; plus it’s all about branding baby!) is the vocalist. He’s here to mime and lip-synch, while making R’n’B glam hands, stretching his arms out and balling his fingers into a fist in 90s boy-band fashion. We wait another 30 whilst they prepare the first shot.
Outside, a heated argument ensues over who makes the best sneakers. Two South Africans with affected psuedo-American accents shout over each other about Jordans, Air Force 1’s, Superstars and lifestyle brands. The sun beats down on me. The darkies have congregated in the little shade provided by the falling shadow of a Land Rover. Hot, hungry and with no real reason to be here. Apparently our editors think videos shot in night clubs are news worthy. Perhaps that’s the reason that there are more media personnel than extras and film cameras. The real star of the shoot in my opinion was the Jeremy Scott Adidas gear. The celebrities (Mika Stefano, MO and a few other self-inflated egos you’ve never heard of) were meant to start arriving at 16h00. At 16h45 I left, promising to return later. I don’t.
The song itself is, well, summery. Conveniently dropped just in time for the silly season. It’s an easy sing-along club and braai nursery rhyme. Even the drunkest mind should have no difficulty remembering “all I wanna hear is you say yes, yes baby. I don’t wanna hear you say no, no baby.” Nothing about the song is particularly offensive, even the vocalist’s refusal to hear a no doesn’t sound rapey at all, saved wholly by Mario’s high-pitched head voice.
Random Fact: According to Stats SA, there are 17 DJ’s in the country to every actuary and attorney.