Cult icon: ‘Sugarman’ full of praise for acclaimed SA doccie

2013-02-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Enjoying sold-out crowds during his current South African tour, rock musician Sixto Rodriguez joked yesterday that he just wants to be treated like “an ordinary legend”.

For decades, he wasn’t even that, working in obscurity on construction sites in the United States, unaware of his cult status in 1970s South Africa.

At a media conference yesterday, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, who with journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom tracked the singer down in the 1990s, said Rodriguez might soon be able to fix up his own house at last.

The remarkable story of the lost and found career of Rodriguez is told in the documentary Searching for Sugarman, which has won numerous awards, including one from Bafta, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and is nominated for an Oscar.

Yesterday, Rodriguez was more eager to talk about the film and the people who made it than about his own work. He said he had watched it about 40 times.

“My daughters [Eva, Regan and Sandra] are the highlight of my life, so I like seeing them in it,” he said.

“Malik [Bendjelloul, the director] created this real Hitchcock-like tension. The film was really put together by just two people. I can see the emotions it awakens in people, but I myself had nothing to do with that,” he said.

Although he never stopped writing songs after his recording contract ended in the 1970s, he was hesitant to promise he would put a new album out. “Maybe after June. After I appeared with a 25-piece band on Letterman, I feel my next project should be on that level and quality.”

Asked about his experiences of South Africa since he first visited in the 1990s, he referred to the recent rape and murder of Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp.

“I am treated very well and always protected … but social issues draw my attention.

“This issue of violence against women must be stopped. The guys that were responsible for that must be locked up.

“But I believe there’s hope. I think the most important thing is that people in the 21st century must not wait for something to change, like we did.

“I think the time has come to do something about it.”

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