5 SA bad girls

2014-04-23 14:00

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In a world that defines good behaviour as conformist, being bad can be tinged with liberation.

In a South Africa governed by conservative social mores, a number of female pop stars have sought to challenge the status quo.

They have used their appeal as entertainers and sex symbols to push the envelope.

They are, as novelist Lauren Beukes wrote, mavericks. For the bad-girl maverick, the personal is political and is lived out loud with a defiant resolve.

Here are five women who’ve been so great at being bad that it was good:

BRENDA FASSIE (1964-2004)

The ultimate bad girl.

Her outrageous on-stage antics, along with a relentless struggle with cocaine addiction, earned her a reputation as an irrevocably recalcitrant icon.

She was also the undisputed queen of African pop, racking up multiple platinum sales with each release.

Fassie managed to add a political thrust to her otherwise self-indulgent image, notably with Black President in 1989.

Dubbed the Madonna of the Townships, Brenda played the bad-girl game perfectly.

Following reports about her lesbian lovers, she launched an 087 line called Why I’m Not a Bad Girl, where fans could pay to listen to her recorded messages.

In 1991 she even released I Am Not A Bad Girl, which carried the superhit, Ngiyakusaba (I’m scared of you).

LEBO MATHOSA (1977-2006)

In the decade preceding her shock death in a car accident, Mathosa had built herself into the baddest girl of her generation of stars.

She launched her career in Boom Shaka, the seminal kwaito voice of the new generation, before going solo.

Her skimpy yet fluffy costumes and simulated on-stage sex earned her an instant reputation.

Openly bisexual, Mathosa was a sex icon with a political voice.

Boom Shaka, for example, created a storm when they reversioned the national anthem on Nkosi Sikelela.


This month Khumalo is celebrating a decade in the pop trade.

She shot into the limelight in 2005 with the hit Qinisela and a Sama win for best newcomer.

She followed up with Itshitshi, which generated a grand public debate about her virginity.

Khumalo also made headlines for her drug addiction and then hogged them when her boyfriend Jub Jub killed four pupils in Soweto in 2012 while racing his car.

She faces her own trial after slapping a rival in a love triangle with a married soccer star.


In the 1970s, at the height of apartheid’s Calvinist conservatism, Kemp took to the stage with a python named Oupa wrapped around her body.

She became the era’s most famous stripper, memorialised in a 1976 film titled Snake Dancer.

These days, she is a born-again Christian with a blog called Read and Pray.

In her heyday, Kemp danced in hotels to invite-only audiences to trick the law, but was arrested frequently by police, who were often front-row fans at her shows.


Before her fall from grace, V-Mash was the scream queen of the small screen.

Feisty and a chanter, she blazed a trail as the presenter of youth game show Jam Alley before moving on to other shows and a stint on Generations.

She also made headlines for drug abuse and assaults, and was axed from TV and banished to Pretoria.

Now she’s back. And that’s the thing about a good bad girl. They survive. This time she’s on the Mzansi Magic Music channel with a show called Pls Call Me.

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