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Its Always Sunny in Johannesburg

It’s Always Sunny in Johannesburg

by Thato Tsotetsi, illustration Billy Pineapples / 12.05.2011

Let me set this up. Nothing is ever as it seems in Johannesburg. The colourful cocktails are really cool aid. The stuff Jim Jones fatally fed his cult in 1978. Much of Joburg’s spending, partying middle and upper echelon is as gullible as Jim’s doomed ‘Rainbow Family”. They tend to believe everything they see on E! And sometimes, like me, they keep things interesting by flirting with danger.

Cooped up in suburbia, genuine excitement is foreign to us. We tend to get our drama second-hand. Fed to us through the boob-tube. Check the twitter timeline for whenever InterSEXion or Generations is on and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Massive bumps.

Being sex, drama and beer-less too long makes you antsy. I decided it was high time to hit the town. “Gay Tuesdays” at Social Bar in Melville. But first, supper with a friend at Wish!

Halfway through appetizers, my straight cronies call so we changed plans. Gay Tuesdays paled in comparison to what they had in mind.

Fast forward 18 beers and three joints. We chilling in Sim’s apartment in downtown Joburg when a friend of his summons us to Hillbrow. Now most every South African knows the rep of the “African Manhattan”. But we braved the odds. Three model C boys and a dainty girl risking it in the most notorious high rise slum of one of the most dangerous cities on earth.

Why was I surprised by what followed? But hey even a certified rock star would have been taken aback by the gorgeous 20-something in a sheer black body suit that barely covered her essentials. Even more surprising was that Candy had a good head on her shoulders. She fed us sharp-edged, well-timed asides laced with intelligence.

Why the fuck was she a whore?

I refrained from asking since her pimp could have been any one of the guys in earshot. Guys with Reed leather jackets, Chuck Taylors and matching scars in places where no scars should be. Hey I’m gay, I notice this shit!

We take a drive down some dark alley for alcohol. Candy and some guy are in tow. He is excited and promising us the time of our lives. Candy has a morose fat friend, a girl who looks like she has the world’s problems riding on her shoulders. Seeing the neighborhood get worse, I have a sudden urge to shove my Blackberry in my underwear. Hopefully whoever inevitably mugs us won’t search down there. Turns out the alley trip is for cocaine and we go all the way back to Sim’s crib again. Scored.

Apparently Candy and her friend need the blow to prepare themselves for the guys brave enough to stick their dicks up their vaginas. Vaginas that have probably seen more dick than the glory holes at The Factory.

I hide on Sim’s bed. Everyone parties in the other room. I have no courage for anything tonight. I eventually emerge and on my way to the lounge window overlooking the city, walk passed about 10 grams of smack that’s now on the kitchen counter. They are all high, horny and drunk. I’m the preppy uptight gay boy scout exposed to my first dose of the underbelly. Without a viable lie to excuse myself. I drink some more. It’s about the only indulgence I can manage since I can’t get it up for the R2000 a night pussy. And I want to pass away saying cocaine has never touched my nostrils.

Shit, I have work tomorrow and the clock says 4am. Tacky Durban house plays on a home theatre system that has seen better days. Then Candy appears in nothing but a pink towel. She seems to want to talk.

“So where are you from?”

She’s from Durban and was initially up in Joburg to take a gap year between high school and varsity. There is a forlorn look on her face when she tells me how good life was back at home. Her accent is polished. She’s from the upper crust of that crusty coastal city I loathe so much. I tell her how beautiful she is. She knows.

“Why are you doing this?”

I quickly apologize but she just sighs and tells me nothing is ever as it seems. Finally the truth. Her mom’s boyfriend apparently fucked Candy in exchange for paying her school fees and bankrolling the high life.

“I’m never going back to Durban,” she says.
Her head on my lap as I stroke her hair.
“Candy,” I say, “you are a smart girl.”
“No,” she says. “Look how well you’ve done for yourself. You’re the smart one.”
Then someone leads her back to the sex room.

Whoever thinks classy accents and stuck-up attitudes among black people mean intelligence and wealth obviously hasn’t ventured deep enough into the city at night where so many dreams lie shattered. They drive good cars bought with the money our increasingly fascist government overpays them, for sitting around and making things worse. They snort cocaine in office bathrooms to mask the emptiness of their own lives. They fuck a thousand men to purge the stench of being violated underage by well to do citizens. They cry for their lost lives, but hey, it’s always sunny in Johannesburg.

*Illustration © Luke Molver.

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  1. db cooper says:

    I enjoyed your story Thato, good work.

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  2. Paris says:

    So well written!!!

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  3. anothergayboy says:

    an excellent article extremely well written and with so many insights.

    yay for the gay boy!!

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  4. db cooper says:

    Don’t get too excited though, that geek Nick Frost gonna run up in here and pull apart your sentences.

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  5. Luz says:

    This is the sort of shit you wanna save to your Word doc, print it and read it over and over again !

    Just to remind you of the f’kn edge we’re livin on !

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  6. dudie says:

    my kind of writing: simple, but emotional. so many thesaurus-basher writers at mahala lately.

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  7. Thato says:


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  8. Marge says:

    A winner my friend, like you.

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  9. K says:

    Dudie you are one forlorn feckless fuckwit.

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  10. Doctor L. says:

    Really enjoyed reading this.

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  11. gina says:

    Its poignant yet humorous.

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  12. dudie says:

    @ K: What are you basing your comment on – or are you just venting aimlessly, engaging in internet teenage angst with people you have no idea about? Please keep your 1995 online ethics, or the lack thereof, to yourself – nobody posts comments like this on the internet anymore. What are you 12?

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  13. jay says:

    Arresting prose..it doesnt take itself too seriously yet hits hard.

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  14. Prof. Marx says:

    This is great – thanks Thato

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  15. TimA says:

    fucking awesome dude, really great work. write a novel.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Really didn’t enjoy this. These two paragraphs in particular made me just cringe with embarrassment:

    “Why the fuck was she a whore?

    I refrained from asking since her pimp could have been any one of the guys in earshot. Guys with Reed leather jackets, Chuck Taylors and matching scars in places where no scars should be. Hey I’m gay, I notice this shit!”

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  17. Flossie with arthritis says:

    Oh dear… you say they made you cringe with embarrassment but you don’t say why… so not very constructive… I’m not cringeing what’s wrong with those lines?

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  18. sims says:

    I really want to find who the fuck you are ,I have people telling me about your article or should I say bullshit that you posted . You need to clarify who the fuck you talking about. My name is Sims I,m a cinematographer and Dj .I happen to live down town JHB ,funny thing is I dont know who the fuck you are! I findyou using my name and associate it with bad vibes , I dont know you but it looks like you either taking me for a fool or you just disrespecting …………..I will tell you one thing stop your bullshit ,OR YOU WILL GET IN ALOT OF TROUBLE ,YOU NOT HARD TO FIND JUST MAKE SURE IT NEVER HAPPENS. I will tell you once and it shall never be repeated again STOP THE BULL SHIT!

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  19. Thato says:

    @ Sims, yes you wouldn;t knwo who I am because I certainly don’t know a Sims who is a cinematographer and Dj, the people in thi s story are based on the characters of close friends of mine who know about me writing it and have approved it.
    Sorry if it came across as you, no disrespect intended. I think I understand those disclaimers now
    “None of the characters herein are real people and any similarity thereof is purely coincidental etc etc”

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  20. Marge says:

    So there must be 1 Sibs in all of Johannesburg’s 8 million people?
    Thato’s arricle is about a pimp, not a stuck up cinematographer/DJ. Unless you really have something to be be guilty about? And clearly you two don’t know each other so why and how would he even write about you?
    Get some bloody balls…and brains, go make some crappy music rather than going around threatening people.

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  21. Lochie says:

    Dark, dirty and gritty – it’s cool. The illustration is brilliant as well, I can imagine a short animated film here.

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  22. dudie says:

    hahahaha – cinematographer/dj in sa’s thriving film and music industry. sounds like hes unemployed to me. what a chop.
    eat shit sims. hahaha.

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  23. Michael says:

    This is good, but ends rather abruptly. Thato, you should follow up on Candy, and write again. look forward to reading more by you.

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  24. Thato says:

    @ Michael,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ll see what I can do about Candy. There is an hectic story there.

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  25. Tim says:

    Haha, someone read this then phoned up Sims and shat him out for having 10grams of coke (I assume the smack referred to is coke although it is a term more commonly associated with heroin) and a hooker over to his place without inviting them. He then rushed over here, because he’s just as pissed off for missing out. Being the only Sims in Joburg can be tough if you’re a paranoid narcissistic fuck.

    Sick article man; in this day and age the only way to find adventure in our cut off spheres of being is to alter our perceptions of them or to allow the weird, scary and baroque to share them with us.

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  26. Me says:

    Great Artcile kid! would love to see you pull a novel out of your rear! and it should be soon!!! Love Always!

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  27. Sam says:

    Serisouly what is Kool Aid? Isn’t that an American thing?

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  28. Kelly says:

    Amazingly well written. The pace was fast and exciting, the short sentences helped the structure of the text and the description and mood of the night!

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  29. willie Damage says:

    Really cool read .

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  30. Anoras says:

    This illo is flipping fantastic!!! Billy you’re are super talented. Keep it up!!!

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  31. Fred says:

    Thato, this makes brilliant reading. Dude i stumbled across Mahala like a month ago and so far this is the best piece. I live all the way in good ol blighty (London, England) and this piece makes me want to jump on a plane and head to J.burg. You should defo follow up on Candy mate.

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  32. Thato Tsotetsi says:

    Thank you Fred. Really appreciated.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    What’s so wrong with Durban? All this hating?Brilliantly written,great atmosphere,close to the heart-should be turned into a short movie(ah maybe our m8 sims could help)- @sims screw you egotistical,stupid disc jerky.you make me laugh!oh ‘you will be in trouble’,your bloody mother man.FIND ME!!!!!you can battle it out with my neighbor,he’s 9;a spelling bee would be appropriate.Keep this up T,looking forward to more from sunny JHB.

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