Chasing booty and bling in Durban

2014-06-09 13:25

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I last visited Durban to interview a stripper several years ago.

After dedicated correspondence with that city’s adult industry bosses, the meeting was set up at Teazers in some grey, industrial suburb.

I had a rental car and got horribly lost (those were the days just pre-GPS), ending up at a pavement curry stand crying invisible tears into a truly sublime chilli-laced broth.

People aren’t very helpful when you ask for directions to Teazers, I’ll have you know.

Eventually I found the club, and the girl, and we spoke for hours.

She was from the Ukraine and twirled around poles in South Africa to fund her son’s schooling back home in Kiev.

She had fled a strip club in Cape Town, the now defunct House of Rasputin in Albert Road, which she claimed confiscated her passport and treated her badly.

She was beautiful, with olive skin and dark hair. I can’t remember what she was wearing – probably not much.

This weekend, the equally steamy MTV Africa Music Awards warranted another trip to Durban. Now there’s nothing first base about MTV Base. In fact, some of what went down would probably have made my stripper friend from the Ukraine blush.

For example, let’s take the award ceremony’s headline act: French Montana, a New York-based rapper, also the latest squeeze of some Kardashian clone.

Shacked up in my hotel room, I Googled Mr Montana. The search revealed that his oeuvre included a feature on the hit song Panties To The Side. I kid you not. I couldn’t help but wonder: was he referring to knickers or to panting perhaps, as in for air? After further research – and lyrics perusal – I could confirm that he was indeed referring to redundant undies (redundies!).

Wow, the internet really houses an extraordinary range of information, doesn’t it?

Over the weekend, media and musicians were whisked between hotels, press conferences and functions in Durban’s city centre in a colourful riot of bling and booty-studded confusion.

Eventually, bored of the “in” crowd I decided to head out. Durban’s beachfront got a face-lift before the World Cup four years ago and was flanked by kilometres of sun-swathed promenade, dunes, surfers and palm trees so perfect they looked unreal. I strolled to the aquarium while man-pulled rickshas with obscenely large passengers groaned by.

On a vendor’s table I found “Jesus” and “Love” fashioned from wire and beads. If only it were that simple.

The next morning, a sobbing woman greeted guests in the hotel’s foyer. Her van had been stolen in the driveway 10 minutes earlier. Gosh, bummer, a small crowd croon. But there was no time to dally and I headed out to catch a cab to the airport, which we made in time for my flight back home.

After an unexpected sequence of events, I found myself seated inside a commercial jet’s cockpit, wedged and strapped in behind two pilots, handbag clutched on my lap.

They said “check, check” into little microphones, fiddled with some knobs and dials and then we were off. Wrapped in sky, we cut through the sunlight, the Drakensberg sprawling below. Conversation was jolly and veered from one pilot’s UN stints transporting Angelina Jolie in Sudan (and corpses in Afghanistan), to the other one’s gym playlist, which included Rihanna and AC/DC.

Behind me, the stewardess opened the door to pass through good, strong coffee and snacks.

Sometimes one simply cannot feign nonchalance, and when the plane’s nose bumped down in Cape Town I applauded wildly, strung out on caffeine and life.

For what’s the point of getting depressed over a world that views women as decorative sex vessels? First rule of the free economy: dollars dictate.

I see the Ukraine got a new president. Maybe in time my stripper friend will earn a living wearing clothes back home in Kiev. Maybe not.

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