Cape Town memories: Priscilla and the Hollywood starlet

2013-10-03 12:09

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It was early winter 2006 and Cape Town’s air had a sting to it.

My friend Jurg was just back from London after a two year coming-out-of-the-closet/coming-of-age type jaunt.

He had a degree in journalism but was dabbling in Cape Town’s film industry, mostly ferrying people and takeaway coffees between movie sets in his battered blue 1980s golf named Priscilla.

Priscilla stalled often.

She was also in the habit of emitting fits of deafening noise, the result of a stuck hooter, which made negotiating bumper-to-bumper traffic awkward, particularly along the seafront in summer.

We were 26 with no money and cautious dreams.

We were silly and full of beer and considered the future a very big place indeed.

At the time, Green Point was still gritty with gay night clubs jostling for space on Somerset Road.

At night, fluorescent signs flickered over dark doorways to Cruise, Blah Bar and Bronx; urgent music poured on to the pavements and narrow, masculine hips swayed.

One evening at Cruise, with its bright-lit disco-block dance floor, Jurg befriended South African actor Brett Goldin shortly before Brett’s execution-style murder on April 16 2006.

Some time after Brett’s death, Jurg was nursing a sore heart and a beer at the same establishment when Micah rolled round.

Micah had bouncy hair and an American accent. They hit it off, exchanged numbers and met again.

Turned out Micah was from Hollywood; he was the personal assistant of gorgeous actress Diane Kruger.

Diane famously portrayed Helen of Troy – the most beautiful woman in the world, according to Greek mythology – in the 2004 film Troy, alongside Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.

Diane Kruger with Orlando Bloom in Troy.

Two years after the release of Troy, she was staying in a mansion overlooking Camps Bay while filming Goodbye Bafana with Joseph Fiennes (brother of Ralph) around Cape Town.

“Micah didn’t like to invite people to their house. But with me, he could see I wasn’t starstruck and stuff,” says Jurg.

And one night he was invited to dinner with Micah, Diane, Joseph Fiennes and co, at an upmarket restaurant in the city.

He first met with Micah and Diane at their Camps Bay villa, ascending their steep driveway on a wing and a prayer.

Inside, he sipped beer while they shared a small joint in front of a flickering fireplace.

Diane wore a long dress with her hair pinned back; her shoulders were covered in a white shawl.

The Hollywood pair elected Jurg the designated driver and the small party piled into Priscilla; Micah in front and Diane in the back.

“Diane, well she was laughing and really cool,” says Jurg.

“I mean, she’s German and Priscilla was a Volkswagen, so ja.”

He prayed that his car would behave, which she did, and they made it over Kloofnek and into town without further ado.

Jurg recalls discussing Madiba and South African accents with Joseph between bites of ostrich fillet as fans whispered and stared.

He obviously ordered the most expensive dish on the menu, as Hollywood was paying. Fun was had.

Much later that night, after dinner, Jurg and Priscilla dropped Joseph off at his bungalow in Clifton Fourth; continuing along Victoria Road, skirting the coast, to drop Micah and Diane off in Camps Bay.

That night, Diane forgot her cotton shawl in Priscilla.

When she returned to Los Angeles soon after, the garment remained in Cape Town.

Jurg showed the shawl to his friends. It was impossibly soft and smelled heavenly.

Jurg eventually gave the shawl to his mum, Joan, the former receptionist at Stellenbosch High School.

And this is how a remnant of Tinseltown, a piece of clothing belonging to the beautiful actress Diane Kruger, ended up in a wardrobe in suburban Stellenbosch, in a house with a fish pond flanked by garden gnomes.

Today, on special occasions, the shawl still adorns the shoulders of Auntie Joan, mostly to restaurants and during the odd Artscape Theatre excursion in Cape Town.

In an interview in 2009, Diane told Glamour magazine how she travelled with German fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld in his private jet.

She said: “Karl is like a dad. I’ve known him since I was 16. I was once on his plane, flying to China. He wouldn’t stop talking. After a while, I said to him, ‘I have to sleep now Karl.’ When I woke up 10 hours later he was still talking to some poor assistant!”

Isn’t it fascinating to think that somewhere in the back of her mind lurk memories of a whirlwind evening traversing the coastal roads of Cape Town, laughing and joking in the back of a stuttering blue 1980s golf named Priscilla.

Disclaimer: Jurg has not chauffeured stoned Hollywood starlets for some time now.

He is slightly older and wiser, marginally less full of beer, and combines his journalistic skills and intuitive visual storytelling flare as a multimedia editor.

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