Thursday, December 10, 2009

The social scene

Here are some of the characters around the social scene. Names and incidents have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty, so no one will be able to say: "That's me! She must be writing about me!"

But feel free to add your own comments and characters ....

The Brakky-ass ends every sentence with the word "Bru" (or "chaaana"). Even if the person he is speaking to is a girl. Brakkys are called this because: "I'm from Brakpan, bru!" or somewhere similar. Brakky are described as "salt of the earth" because what else can you say about someone who is ugly and their mother dresses them funny? Brakky-asses show off more butt-crack than a regiment of plumbers. They are always pulling their pants up because of this. Their hair looks like the rats have attacked it in the middle of the night, and it is usually dirty blonde. They look like they don't bath because they are a muddy colour. They are addicted to physical violence and believe that it solves everything. "I'm going to moer you stukkend!" is a favourite phrase. They are a bit genetically challenged and have weird looking families. Was the family dog involved? They have dead cars in their back yard and "lappies" in the flowerbeds. Brakky-ass women have hoarse voices and are always pulling on a cigarette (which they bummed off someone). Their children also have hoarse voices, maybe because Mom drank and smoked a lot during her pregnancy. Brakkys like to play loud house music and throw bottles out of cars. They should move to Australia because they would fit in, but the Australians don't want them.

Some of these are Tsotsis in a dress. The pink rand rules, baby. The Moffioso control the social scene, and the gay scene. Lesser Moffia are known as "moffalinas", who are hoping to move up in the ranks to be Moffioso kingpins one day. The moffalinas need to find a rich patron to do this, but often they have moffalina divorces which are meltdowns of note and the neighbours have to call the police. There is no dignity in love or the death of it. Many of the Moffioso are in event management, fashion or party planning but they can be found in every sphere, even business and sport (but this is kept very quiet). They have extremely influential clients, make obscene amounts of money and are highly successful in whatever profession they are in .They have superlatively great taste if they are true Moffioso. Their houses are always in the decor magazines. You want them to take over your life, tell you how to dress and how to do up your house. It's good to have the Moffioso on your side because when they like you they are like purring pussycats. Otherwise you are dead meat. The Moffioso are very big in Cape Town. They get involved in all the doings of the Mother City, but you will find them everywhere, even in places you might consider quite homophobic.

The Botox Queen looks like he/she has been bitten by a poisonous Amazonian tree frog. He/she is swollen, puffy and shiny to an alarming degree but boasts triumphantly about how much Botox he/she has has injected. One day they are going to exhume Botox Queens (BQs) from the early 21st century and wonder about what human beings are prepared to do to their own bodies, like the Elizabethans putting lead on their faces or Victorian women wearing corsets that broke their ribs, caused them to faint and distorted their shape. Botox Queens are complete plastic surgery junkies and love to have "work" done. The trouble is, none of this makes them look better. They in fact look hideous and scary, due to being pumped full of tetanus infection poison. The pain is always worth the gain, though, as the BQs try out the new third-degree burn treatment that is guaranteed to make them so much younger and more beautiful. Although I am sure that Botox is not biodegradable. So the BQs may look better than Tutankhamun after 2000 years.

The BEE-atch is easy to spot. She's literally covered in bling, from sunglasses to handbag to fake nails and drives an obscenely expensive car (like a BEE-MW convertible). She loves to lunch and calls her girlfriends "darling" and everything is "stunning". She singlehandedly keeps Sandton City in business and tells everyone how much things cost and how she bought it in Paris or Milan. The trouble is with all this newfound money is that the BEE-atch is not a very nice chick. She ignores poor people and beggars at robots and never gives the car guard any change. She bosses her staff and bullies them relentlessly before going off to lunch (again). She's rude to her household staff too and doesn't pay them. She has a packet of Simba chips on both shoulders which should make her well-balanced but it just makes her rude and arrogant. She loves putting people down, as they haven't "arrived" like she has. She disses other African countries because they don't have money. The BEE-atch loves to tell everyone about her roots but doesn't ever want to go back there. She was a Mbeki-ite when he was president but now she just loves President Jacob Zuma to bits.

The PWS (Publicity Whores) throw themselves in front of every passing camera. You know them by the way they Facebook themselves (check out their profile pictures, there are now about 14 367, not counting their blogs and personal websites). They Twitter, they tweet, they Youtube themselves. They love being in Heat magazine. They love being the subject of tabloids scandals as it pushes up theur profile. The PWS are always voor op die wa (pushy and first in queue). They love being photographed with Famous People. They have a collection of Famous People they have been photographed with. There are more Famous People they are salivating to get their picture taken with and they will not rest until this happens. Journalists, as a rule, do not enjoy the PWs much because their editors impose a ban on the PWS after a while and it can get a bit sickening, all this me me me. PWs are always so transparently hungry for more. Pictures, editorial, column space, even a fake obituary column would do. And when can we meet Oprah?

The GFPs live in Sandhurst or the northern suburbs, never in the East, West or South (quelle horreur). They always look like they have had expensive dentistry done as it hurts to smile, or maybe they just have razorblades up their ass. They have little soirees where there is no food. Just red wine and Lots of Cupcakes. The cupcake is the GFP contribution to worldwide cuisine. They are more English than the English and their daughters and sons marry money. Lots of them live in Cape Town. Their friends are MDs or CEOs, never ever middle management. The women dress like Squirrel Nutkin, all gingham and baskets(although they do love their Chinese jackets for the evening and an artistic splash of colour with ethnic beads). When they are older they always have coiffed white hair, wear pink linen jackets and have "good bones". They love doing up their houses and talk about "dek-aw", not "day-cor" like rest of us plebs. The GFP have more money than God but they always look unhappy like they have sucked on a lemon. They are most polite when they are at their most mean. They never talk about their problems. What problems? It must be someone else's problem, never theirs. They are perfect. Even if they do need to be defrosted.

We all know the Barker Haineses of this world. Everyone knows their name, they are the most powerful captains of industry in the world, if not the universe. They use their clout to buy, borrow or steal impeccable credentials. Their net worth is splashed across the financial pages. They are charming, they love the ladies, particularly the beauty queens, models and trophy wives. But do not cross them. These guys are more ruthless than Lady Macbeth if you get in their way. They are deeply, deeply scary. They can send thugs to your door at the drop of a hat. Never inquire how they made their money or question their authority. They will destroy you. No one can stand up to them, they have too much money and power. They are at all the parties ... the A list events all over the world... even if they are oh so dodgy. They always make the social pages. From Vanity Fair to Tatler to you name it. It's enough to make the PWs green. The Tsotsi in a suit always makes sure that the suit he wears is the best money can buy, it's usually Italian tailoring and a perfect fit. If you have to work with the devil you have to keep up with his sartorial style.

*PS: If Zapiro is feeling generous, perhaps he would like to offer to illustrate some of these characters for me. But no showerheads, please!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Learning the art of sabrage

It was time for a Christmas lunch this week before everyone goes off to their respective holidays (or "staycations" for the recession-hit!) and publicist Jill Grogor whisked myself and a fellow journo off for a beautiful lunch at Signature, which is run by Felicia's nephew Desmond Mabuza (okay, I have to explain all this before I get to the sabrage bit). Now Desmond and I go way back to his Back O' The Moon Days. He is one of the hardest working people that I know; he's at the restaurant every morning at 9am and only leaves at 2.30am. He is now in partnership with the Moloko Group, who also own AtholPlace, the beautiful new Strathavon Boutique Hotel and Constantia Manor. Last week a group of media and celebs had a "pamper lunch" at AtholPlace and we then went off to Signature afterwards for a drink.

Jill promised that we would return for lunch and so we did ... just in time for a sabrage lesson. Sabrage, by the way, is the art of getting a bottle to take its own top off and then drinking the yummy champers inside. It's the best party trick in town. It doesn't have to done with a sword, as those are not actually knocking around one's house. I've even seen it done with a teaspoon by Pascal Asin from Moet & Chandon while Gatriles was still around and was profoundly impressed.

Now Signature is a fine dining experience, a rarity in this fickle town where places spring up like mushrooms overnight and then disappear just as fast when the style crowd moves on to the Next Best Thing. The menu encompasses things like oysters tempura, which certainly got my attention. I've heard of Oysters Rockefeller but never oysters dipped in batter, Japanese style! You could have them the normal way but this was unusual. It was a tough choice for starters but as I am a bit of a salmon addict I had the salmon roses. Our companion, in a hat, sploshed her sashimi into soy sauce vigorously, a wonderfully incongrous sight. Jill stuck with salad for mains but the rest of the menu covered wonderful fish dishes, fillet, Thai style curries, and a cute chicken pot pie. And nice puds too, although I woul like to see restaurants offering a plate of fresh, sliced seasonal fruit as our fruit is so phenomenal. One of the nice things about the restaurant was the curvilinear banquette-style seating for those who like to settle in for the afternoon.

One of them was Marilyn Cooper from the Cape Wine Academy, who helped put together the very successful Soweto Wine Festival together with Mnikelo Mangciphu. She was sitting with the restaurant's sommelier but came over for a quick chat. I told her about the Hyde Park Southern Sun opening and how sommelier Miguel Chan performed sabrage. What a ritual it seems, we said, that only a few holy of holies can ever understand. So Marilyn in her inimitable way called for a bottle of champagne. Initially they brought some Louis Roederer (yum!); but what she really meant was an empty bottle so we could do a "simulation". So we got an empty of Moet Rose to practise on.

Now sabrage is something that has always fascinated me; how does someone open a bottle of champers so dramatically without it exploding? Do you need to be very drunk to do this? I always like to watch people do it but thought it came with the instruction "Do Not Try This At Home" like the WWE wrestling. Marilyn completely demystified the art of sabrage for us. Let's see if I can remember what she told me, in sequence.

1. Remove the foil from the top and neck of the bottle, while keeping your finger on the cork (important to remember this), with the bottle tilting away from you (hold its bottom in one hand). The foil needs to be completely removed. Then unscrew the wire cage over the cork and remove the wire, still keeping your thumb on the cork.
2. Then feel along the neck of the bottle with your thumb horizontal to it, to see if you can feel the tiny line that runs down the side of the bottle. When you have located the seam in the bottle,
3. Take your sword/kitchen knife and stroke it, blunt side down and FLAT, down the the bottle along the seam right to the top of the neck, once, twice, FIRMLY, then for a third time quickly, this needs to be almost like a tennis stroke. You could also use a teaspoon but it has more impact on onlookers or party guests if it's something that looks spectacular.
4. WHOP! The cork shoots off, along with the extreme top of the bottle, going who knows where.

You have now performed sabrage. Don't worry, says Marilyn, there's no chance of you getting glass in your champagne as the pressure inside a champagne bottle is about 6bars, nearly 3 times more than your tyres, and everything goes out of the neck. But you do need to point the bottle away from yourself, your eyes and your loved ones. It's all about physics and pressure. You need to follow these instructions to the T, though. There are a lot of dumb people out there who would try to bash the bottle in half and kill themselves.

You've heard about the element of surprise ... well, this was the element of sabrage. Jill was most impressed and vowed to try this at her next party. But we thought we should go and get bottles of JC le Roux and practise on them first!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A mad hatters tea party

Apparently the students from the Spero Villioti Elite Design Academy were inspired by my blog on hats being the new "thing"", and decided to put on an Avant Garde Hat Show in Hyde Park on, of all days, Friday the 13th of November. They certainly turned some heads!

The tea party was held in celebration of the 2nd year students’ dedication, creativity and hard work during the year in their millinery class.

Students were briefed to be as creative as possible and they did not disappoint. The hats were absolute pure fantasy and over the top! Viva, hatwear, viva!

From orgasmic breakfasts to heavenly lunches

Visuals at the Durex breakfast

This last section of the year is always the busiest for everyone and the parties are back-to-back. You name it, I have covered it over the past six weeks, from wine and food to fashion to horses.

One of my most anticipated events was a breakfast put on by Durex to launch their new orgasmic gel for women, Play O. This is a vaso-dilator that increases female sexual pleasure intensely. I met a sexologist with the very unlikely name of Dr Elna McIntosh at the breakfast. Elna was a complete scream, if you will excuse the pun. Who would have thought that a sexologist's husband would run off, with of all things, a poppie from Kuruman? But he did. She has recovered, and found herself a seven-foot tall Nigerian underwear model called Yusef. She said she asked the universe for him and he arrived. She was an inspiration to us all. I am too bashful to report much on the gel on the blog and can say only this ... um ... it works ...

Then there was a heavenly lunch at the newly refurbished Cypriot Club near Eastgate. Nicolas Nicolau and his family bought the club and have turned it into a plush upmarket venue for the Cypriot/Hellenic community. There are crystal chandeliers, gorgeous wallpaper, three resident chefs, a huge landscaped garden, a bar with big screen TV for the men, a lovely ballroom area, a lamb on the spit area and a separate space for the children with cupcakes, toys, nannies, and the full catastrophe. No more plastic chairs!

The whole place was packed for the opening lunch and I sat with Nicolas's family inside. It was one of the best meals I have had all year. Cypriot specialities like pasticcio, chunks of tender lamb, green salads of finely chopped spinach and herbs, okra, crusty, crusty bread, taramasalata, fabulous herby potato chunks, roasted vegetables ... my goodness, it just went on and on. It was hard to restrain myself even if I was eating mostly vegs and fish! The dessert tables were mobbed before they were finished being decorated and we were swatted away like flies by a rather annoyed Nicolas. There was wonderful things in rosewater and glittery cupcakes with Father Christmas's face on them. Bowls of cherries, chunks of watermelon, mousses, lemon cheesecake, champagne jellies, things in shooter glasses on mirrors. Why, o why, don't "God's frozen people" (WASPs) eat like this?

Then there was Winex followed by the pantomime, Janice Honeyman's superb production of Pinocchio which was world-class. I attended the launch of 312, a high end couture store in Sandton City's new Legacy Corner

The window displays as part of the "reveal" at 12 Couture

Posey posse ... Danielle Franco, Jen Su and Carolyn Steyn at the 312 launch

and went to the opening of the new Hyde Park Southern Sun with its fantastic view over Joburg and great Italian food (remember Bice, owned worldwide by the delicious, sadly married Raffaele Ruggeri? Now everyone knows about it!).

The famous Raffaele with Suzanne Weil at Hyde Park Southern Sun

I went to the Mr Gay South Africa at the State Theatre (now, that was fun) and I hung out with friend Simon Rademan who composes the Worst and Best Dressed List in South Africa, the Christmas tree lighting in Hyde Park where all the shops stayed open till 9pm and we ate Haagen-Daz and had hand massages at Jo Malone. Then it was off to the Summer Cup at Turffontein where we sat out on the deck at the Furious Room and saw the gee-gees and the jockeys in their colourful silks up close. Why do all jockeys look like Benjamin Button (and not like Raffaele Ruggeri)? They seem to be born looking old and stuffed-looking, must be because they have zero body fat.

Then it was off to the Blubird food market where friend Robyn Higgins told me about the new Food Hall opening in Rivonia at the Codfather. All the marketers under one roof, kind of like the David Jones Food Emporium in Australia! Blubird did very well at the recent Good Food and Wine show and lemon lady Peta Hunter walked off with an award plus a mention in Eat In. Robyn was keen to place an ad for the market on my blog but I said she would have to wait for The Website to launch. I learnt a lot more about blogging after seeing great new movie Julie and Julia (wasnt Meryl Streep fantastic? A cross between Dame Edna Everage and Joan Plowright), and discovered that this blog is getting lots of hits!! Keep reading it folks! Lots more to come!

The Les Must-have collection

Awwwww, cute ... Cartier the leopard cub at his photo shoot.

The cuff links were inspired by the Tank watch cabuchon

Tortoise shapes are a big motif in the new collection

Unless they are quirky, big labels are not usually something I am too crazy about but there are a few top brands that I do admire, respect and aspire to: Vogue, Chanel and Cartier. I have been lucky enough to have some exposure to the latter, thanks to the South African connection with the Richemond Group (one South African journalist gets a chance a year to go to Paris, including Gary Cotterell from Wanted and Kate Wilson from marie claire mag and last year, it was my chance to see the 2008 Biennale collection and then go on to the Cartier Polo in London) and found that everything to do with this brand is classic, classy, understated and infused with a quiet civility.

So I jumped at the chance to go and view their new Collection les must at the two year old Sandton boutique. Even more so because I have been enjoying the new Les Must ad campaign with the little leopard cub, being an avid lover of cats both great and small. In each picture he is more cute than the next as he munches on the expensive leatherwear (ouch!) or watches it fall out of with the sky with big Tom Kitten-round eyes. Apparently this effect is achieved by the animal trainers distracting him with fascinating objects on sticks. Although the cub's private circumstances is kept as hush-hush as 007's whereabouts his actual name is Cartier and he is the mascot for the campaign. Cartier the cub reportedly eats two chickens a day, although I am sure by now he is up to six or so! Apparently he had a great rapport with the photographer and at the end of the campaign shoot the two stared at one another with huge interest.

One of the lovely things about Cartier the brand is the recurrences of themes; the cub being a perfect example, as he fits into the "Panthere" history. Even the perfume bottles tops echo the shapes of the archetypal Cartier watches, the cabuchon swivel, for example, being echoed as the lid. So the new Les Must collection contains all the echoes of the past, with some sexy new twists. Such as the Cartier tank watch camouflaged with leopardprint which I spotted in the latest Vogue. Another echo of Cartier the cub... and something that should be a bestseller in South Africa, practically the home of leopardprint.

The original Les Must de Cartier was part of the 1970s and 80s when luxury objects became much more accessible to more people and included things like luxury lighters, perfume, leather goods, watches, pens and sunglasses. It made some aghast to see a disappearing age of fabulous bespoke pieces which only a wealthy few could afford, but the trend was in line with what was happening in the world and these lines have continued to this day without Cartier losing one ounce of its reputation. A tribute to their superb marketing skills.

The 2009 collection is aimed at the young and funky market and the goatskin and snakeskin purses, notebooks and cardholders veer away from the usual monochrome, coming in shades of fuschia, indigo, bright green and caramel. They are also within the realm of affordability; even an impoverished journalist could save up for one to raise her style quota! Cufflinks are in the shape of gaming tokens such as clubs or dice or tortoise-shaped. The animal motifs pop up again in the shape of mother of pearl or white tortoises (tortue) on filigree chains, or stylised scarabs. There is silver and gold - rose-gold, yellow gold or white gold, all of which is matched up to the stones. Delicate necklaces can be worn alone or as a threesome, enhancing a woman's neck. There are Entrelace silver and gold rings which you turn in circles like pasta before you pop them onto your finger. And Entrelace bracelets and necklaces. More animals ... a cute cocker spaniel is introduced with the barrettes, and if you like you can keep his ears in order by pinning them back gently. It's witty, quirky and wearable even by someone older.

As we look at the collection I am served a glass of champagne (for breakfast!), the Cartier Cuvee placed on a saucer which is also customised. Even the perfume papers carry the logo. As usual whenever I come into contact with anything Cartier-esque I feel like a million dollars and swank off through Sandton with my beautifully presented press kit. Even the carrier bags are fabulous .... and heads turn.

My parents were friends with an eccentric billionaire golf-course designer who once told my mother: "Every woman should have something by Cartier in her wardrobe." Never was a truer word spoken.

A classic ... the iconic Tank watch.