Monday, 30 September 2019

THE HIGH PRIESTESS


THE HIGH PRIESTESS
Nina Simone Revival Revue
Created by  Odidi Mfenyana Performed as ODIDIVA
 ART OF DUPLICITY


"I want a career like Nina Simone...like her with a loyal following….
Nina Simone had a long career, travelling far and wide, respected by all but still being able to speak her mind, as a political activist, respected even while at times behaving outrageously..."

This was answer that clinched my first Artist Management deal. It would prove to be the spark that ignited Odidi Mfenyana's and later Odidiva's professional career as a force in Cape Town's cultural nightlife.



Our first project,Faith In Poison my seminal one man show; was nightclub savvy cabaretshow for British American Tobacco debuting at exclusive Lucky Strike events in Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa.  My sophomore solo show, Rhythms Down My Spine refined and embellished Faith In Poison pushing a 21st Century Afro-Futurist trope best described by Suzy Bell for the Cape Times:
" Its the new urban-reality...Odidi Mfenyana...A gospel saint of the clubbing scene, a preacher of reconcialiation through pop-culture, a slam poet, a rap star, a rock star " 
The rave review would prove to be the tipping point that influenced predicating critical mass.  This came in the collaboration of Rythmns Down My Spine with Brett Bailey's creative genius to conceive the experimental theatrical spectacle House of the Holy Afro in 2004. The show became an immediate hit touring Internationally for 9 years, on 3 continents, over 13 countries and 22 cities.

In The High Priestess Odidi Mfenyana as Odidiva returns to the origins of his craft; seamlessly blending poetry, prose, political satire, stand-up comedy with showstopping vocal performances accompanied by footage of Nina Simone's last interview on BBC Hardtalk 2002. The High Priestess is ODIDIVA invoking the fierce spirit of Nina Simone.

Exclusive Launch Thursday 3 October 2019 20h00 - 22h00

LIMITED SEASON ENDS Thursday 28 November 2019.
Booking Essential capacity

Tickets R250 including complementary Expresso Martini by World Champion Mixologist 2019 Brent Parramore

Inside The Art of Duplicity a best kept secret



from the unique perspective of South African Pop Culture and Personal History, The High Priestess, is quintessential nu-cabaret; old school charm & sorcery of imagination with new evocative innovation. 
The Art of Duplicity thus has it's Coup d'Grace to it's groundbreaking Chef d'Oever…
The High Priestess.

Friday, 19 July 2019

POSE: THE UNENVIABLE FAGULOUS LIFE OF THE BEULAH BLACK QUEEN


Beulah Buffoons!

Please download or stream an app or trade exchange favours in kind.

 need you to watch POSE.

It will give you the edge; much needed incite into

 The Unenviable Fagulous Life of The Beulah Black Queen. 


Ryan Murphy's POSE is Gaymazing. 30 years later the trailblazing documentary made iconic by Madonna's acclaimed cultural appropriation in her smash hit "Vogue", the doccie made legendary by the  choreography of Willy Ninja and iconoclastic through Rupaul's Drag Race; Paris Is Burning finally gets its Hollywood adaptation.



 This is gay superstar television producer Ryan Murphy Piece d'Resistance. The show that got him through making millions for deplorable billionaire Rupert Murdoch's News Corp with Nip/Tuck.

Like Bottom to Top Murphy exceeded our every hedonistic campy dreams with all the seasons of American Horror Story. 


Who ever thought he would Top himself? Yet he did, riding the wave of gender fluid consciousness with the critical acclaim and cult following worthy POSE.


 The genius of the series is it's depth of narratives and the "realness"of character arcs seamlessly hot-glued with rhinestone glitz of eponymous 1980's "Ball Culture".

 The soundtrack deftly reminds us that it was the pioneering prophecy of Gay DJ's Frankie Knuckles (The Godfather of House) Marshall Jefferson and Larry Levan that turned disco into house.



 And it's clear to see how with four four to the floor the kids can do more. And they do the most; strutting & twirling literally giving life, subverting the dark clouds gathering whispering AIDS.




Ultimately the Coup d'Grace is what lays it all out, the special bittersweet relationships with our most unsuitable suitors. 


The Provocative Vespertine must have the Most Elusive Shining Dark Knight, a Bruce Vayne, or a Jerk-Off & Hyde, a Nobleman Count with a Fetish to make him Bleed or even a Shapeshifting Alpha Fiend for a Freak, has been known to prey upon us Dames of the Avant-garde, The Nocturnal Socialites.

"And what flourishes at night must be never be seen in glaring gaze of the bright light of day."

POSE builds a monument to our true love quest. A character Arc d'Triomphe of unrequited love. This The Eternal Flame of The Unknown Soldiers is so pertinently captured in *Whitney Houston's R&B torch-song classic  "Saving All My Love for You".



 I guess it's a fitting cross to bear for shining brighter than all God's creatures. The curse of the courtesan to be loved in secret or just for amusement.

Maybe then Beulah Buffoons, you'll find the compassion; kind consideration for all we put up for a turn up.

"Ladies with an attitude, fellas that are in the mood...strike a POSE!"


*SIDEBAR:


The 1985 record-breaking eponymous  debut of the chanteuse  had her aesthetic exuding the very exemplary attributes of realness yearned by every Drag Queen/ Tranny walking the category:

"Opulence... I own everything!"

Thursday, 6 June 2019

My First and Last Vienna Life Ball


In 2005 I had the honour to meet and greet Donatella Versace with Allegra and a pregnant Heidi Klum with a Lesbian couple who'd just adopted a South African boy named Tau while doing soundcheck at The Vienna Life Ball.
I would also to our symbiotic surprise bump into JoAnne Strauss on her 1st Top Billing gig overseas. Performing at 3am I and colleague Dino Moran attended the extravaganza to be enthralled by Dita von Teese in Champagne Glass Burlesque and Haddaway slaying 90's dance hit What is love? along with the most fantastically dressed revellers and outlandish Drag Queens.
House of the Holy Afro slayed it's slot giving patrons one last hoorah before going home. Odidiva the High Priestess, permeating AfroFuturism through the African Renaissance "The Afro is the Big Black Truth as opposed to the Little White Lie, The Afro is African..."
https://lifeplus.org/en/

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

NEEDED: Compassion, Community, Camaradarie and Culture

Hey Darling, how are you? I am finally binge watching RuPaul's Drag Race 11. I now understand your comment regarding Evie Oddly. I am on Episode 8 and already since episode 5 I have found the contestants paranoid, exhausted and lacking effervescence. This Oddly tart has done the opposite of Silky Ganash and sucked the fun out of the work room and turned it toxic. I no longer aspire to be in RuPaul's Drag Race if it's more pain than gain, especially as it's clear after All Stars 4  the of social media backlash decides outcomes and not RuPaul. Mercedes Iman, the Somali African Princess, scared stiff of revealing she's Muslim on US National Cable TV, really had me "shook" as in "spoeked" and her saying, " people don't know how hard it is to be an immigrant in this country" as she was describing how her Islamic name had her blacklisted from flying to drag pageants in the vast United States of America. Poor Gurrl had to drive all over the East Coast. It got so bad she ended up with severe symptoms of exhaustion to the point she had a stroke. One of my cousin's died from similar condition. Luckily for Mercedes Iman she was left paralyzed on one side of her body unable to walk. I guess that's better than Drag's First Suicidal Matyr of Pageantry. The level of ignorance and social intolerance amongst young queers in RuPaul's Drag Race 11 shows worrying signs of severe anti-social pathology taking root within our Queer community. A curriculum on Queer Arts Culture and History is required beyond Drag Race's commendable efforts. Our Queer Youth may be manifesting the need for another crisis of the likes of the AIDS epidemic. For only through HIV did we learn the advocacy of TLC.
It's time we revive and renew the ethos of compassion, camaradarie, culture and community of Act Up!  The trailblazing First World Western Culture liberal socio-political culture must find a spiritual home.
Even here in the Southern most tip of Africa we are experiencing the fallout of the social ills of our Velvet Rage.
Losing knitwear designer, Soth African fashion industry's latest rising star Nicholas Couts under suspicious circumstances is a cry for help smothered in the whispered silence that echoes, reverberates and surrounds his tragic untimely death.
Sexuality is not  Personality.
Sexual Orientation is not the Community of Society.
The Struggle is real for all those of us suffering from, what I coin Post-Closet Traumatic Stress syndrome. This is well documented in the book The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World
Book by Alan Downs

What we need is to be like the book by Steven Berzenaic
This is a beautiful review of its winning qualities: 
Single Forever: Stories and Insights from Gay Men | Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com › ...


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-single/201104/single-forever-stories-and-insights-gay-men%3Famp

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The African Queen, Odidiva heading for Performa'17 in New York City

Odidiva - The African Queen, has been invited to the prestigious New York City art fair, Performa'17. Also known as Odidi Mfenyana this Cape Town based Performance Artist, named among the world's top live singing Drag Performers by the book Around The World In 80 Drag Queens, will be supporting, friend and colleague, Zanele Muholi, "Africa's most powerful female artist" - Art Review magazine.
Odidiva & Zanele Muholi, September 2017 @Tarka for The Comeback

In a trailblazing career starting in 2001 as the showstopper in award-winning South African theatre director, Brett Bailey's BIG DADA - The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, Odidiva has taken the art of drag from the underground club counterculture to the mainstream of the arts, crossing genres, transforming African Queer culture by influencing hearts and minds.
Odidiva in House of the Holy Afro, Paris France 2013


Here is a tacit discription of Odidiva's stage persona as described by Nadine Botha for Design Indaba magazine:

 Odidiva likes to brag about being the “only live act black drag queen in Cape Town”. That translates as: no lip-synching, no impersonation – everything is live, proud and personal. But what really distinguishes her is her political edge.
She likes to be compared to Evita Bezuidenhout in that regard, but Odidiva is a guerrilla fighter in comparison. She’ll have you up an’ dancing to Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special and while you’re still pulling in your chair, punch you in the stomach with something like: “If we don’t invest in education now, we are still going to be robbed at gunpoint in 20 years time.” Which will only have you laughing even louder at her next quip about christening Jacob Zuma as “President Lovepants”.
Like Zanele Muholi, Odidiva is a  LGBTI activist artist using the performing arts as a platformto inspire social cohesion as encouraged by South Africa's world leading Constitution godfathered by legendary statesman Nelson Rholihlala Mandela and spiritual icon Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu.

Now in her 16 year, Odidi Mfenyana's nom de guerre Odidiva is looking to growing and mentoring the next generation of African Queer Activist Artists with BUSHWAACKING, her self coined version of US invented Voguing/Waacking which forms the basis of Mfenyana's Master in Fine Arts thesis at AFDA on route to establishing the African Queen Queer Arts Institute.

Please tune into The Salon Bush Radio 89.5FM tonight 20h00 Wednesday 4 October 2017 for a full interview with Odidiva. Here more about her life and times and get the fierce "gees" that's bringing life to South Africa's queer arts culture.

BUSHWAACKING - House of Odidiva



Thursday, 24 August 2017

The COMEBACK with Guest of Honour ZANELE MUHOLI



THE SORCERY OF IMAGINATION TOHEAL THE NATION

3 Years later to the day of our last journey together to Ventersdorp, where we commiserated and archived the brutal killing of another young lesbian sister Disebo Gift Makau; Zanele Muholi phones...
All the time she is speaking my mind thinks is:

"Welcome home Qawe lama Qawekazi (Hero of Heroines)".
In the three years since we last connected working together our lives have experienced exhilerating highs and life threatening lows.
In the face of so much death, destruction and civil upheaval in the world over the last 3 years, we cannot think our strife is significant.
 If anything we as human beings should be embracing our kinship.

 All made more palpable by the universality of the diabolical twists and turns of film noir unravelling with ever accelerating years 2014...2015...2016...2017…
Odidi Mfenyana and Zanele Muholi en route to Venterdorp, North West Province, STEVENSON gallery Braamfontein, Joburg 21 August 2014

In  the previous century the world was at war, but something tells me we are 
deep in a war of worlds, so unconventional it beguile old methods of perception and requires us to reach for reinvention.
For one to turn the corner on one's doldrums one must believe in the faith of  life. The blessings of abundance include the good and the bad. For if life is for the living when it is painted in the light and shade of contrast; the juxtaposition of contradiction  of the human condition.
"We have Faith in Poison. We Will Live Our Lives Completely EVERYDAY…"
In eye of the cyclone one sees with that the ferocity of the tempest will temper how we distinguish ourselves.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ZANELE MUHOLI , ODIDIVA AS MC OF MISS CAPE TOWN PRIDE 2010, BMW PAVILION, V&A WATERFRONT CAPE TOWN

ALL ORIGINALS  STOLEN IN A ROBBERY OF PHOTOGRAPHIC AND AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT with over twenty primary and back-up external hard drives containing five years' OF WORK AT HER CAPE TOWN HOME IN 2012

Yonke into enesiqalo kufanelekile ukuba ibe nesiphelo njengokuba
nento ephilayo kufuneka emva kwexesha elithile iphelelwe bobo bom
ibuphilayo.KwaXhosa kuthiwa into engapheliyo iyahlola.Kuzo zonkeizinto ezinesiqalo neziphilayo akukho nanye kuzo eya kusiphephasiphepheke ngokupheleleyo isiphelo. Zonke ke izinto ezikhoyozithambekela esiphelweni zithanda zingathandi" 
All things that have a beginning must appropriately have an end, like every that lives over time will lose the life it lives.
Where the people of Xhosa are; it is said that:
"What does not end becomes grotesque"


Sadly, the hegemony of power in the previous century, is still in denial; convulsed in the most grotesque death throes.
Reinvention requires ones ability to dig deep into the mines of one's body and soul.  This is by no means a frivolous task but industrious action meant to reinforce one's "gees".
That "joie d' vivre" needs to be buttressed by emotional titanium. The ability to invest in introspection, meditation and intellectual jousting for emotional intelligence strengthens one's ductility.
Hence the universal rituals of spiritual sabbatical, fasting for feeding the soul, meditation through incantation,  until body, mind and soul is imbibing divinity.
The creative arts play a significant role in igniting moments of pause in one's life that lead us to question more.
The creative arts gifted in the imaginary are the orifice to explore life's lavish contradictions.”

Therefore the undeniable imperative of creativity as a catalyst for socialinnovation is required in the same way gold is considered a safe asset in times of crisis. For too long contemporary artists have been overexposed to being commoditized;  that this essence is endangered.
It then makes it logical to understand my need to celebrate an African artist, a contemporary, a mentor, patron and friend who has recaptured and rejuvenated this zeal to the world's attention, respect  and acclaim.
AFRICAN EXCELLENCE BANNED IN APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA UNTIL 1994 
EXILED MAMA AFRICA, MIRIAM MAKEBA GREETING NINA SIMONE BACKSTAGE, AFRICAN AMERICAN ICONS OF CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT NINA SIMONE AND JAMES BALDWIN
Many of us in South Africa still do not realise the psychological trauma in the blackout of African excellence from our lives.
 As an African Gay man of 23, I discovered that the writer I'd often  heard named amongst America's  top 10 literary  authors, James Baldwin was not only not a white man, but  African-American and gay too! 
I promptly picked up "Giovanni's Room" and in the forward discovered a revolutionanary social catalyst for societal transformation. How radical? No life changing. Giovanni's Room is a story of two Caucasian gay men falling in love in and out of love in Paris was published in 1956. James Baldwin along with another revolutionary artist, Nina Simone  best friend of exiled Miriam Makeba were banned in South Africa until repeal of the laws were repealed in mid to late 90's . Meaning accessing the work from their glory days trickled in around  2001 and  due mostly to internet access.

South Africans watch with hostile envy  and bewilderment as six decades long emancipated Africans enjoying cultural bonds,  win Big Brother Africa.  
Even with knowledge of Aparheid's deliberate seperation of us from our brethren , we have internalised the narrative propagated by our White Supremecist oppressors. 
Forgetting the very media company broadcasting from our Johannesburg was the propaganda arm of  the Afrikaner Nationalists that oppressed us.
So we carry on listening to mostly American and British as cleverly prescribed by  the Apartheid regime. SAMRO (South African Music Rights Organisation) pays out  almost  80 percent to its Western counterparts.  
While we are impervious imperious in our  superiority  floundering  believing and behaving wrongly. Xenophobia flags our debilitating symptoms from of  what I will call Post Apartheid Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
"Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. 
The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but the sense of their inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness.
When it is in their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness where ever they see it."

BANNED PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT ON HATE CRIMES AND GENDER VIOLENCE BY JACK LEWIS FEATURING ODIDIVA 

This is evidenced in the proliferation of the serial pathology of violence against women and children in this nation of ours eMzantsi Afrika.
We have opportunity to embrace ourselves this women's month. The opportunity to grab, hug and kiss our self-esteem. The Guest of Honour works tirelessly as a catalyst for social innovation.
Receive the inspiration.
The COMEBACK - Guest of Honour Zanele Muholi is a timely, consciously deliberate expression of love, pride, and activism.
A rebuttal of all afro-pessimism wracking our society's inferiority complex, lashing out, self-mutilating with homicidal brutality.

We close this Women's Month with a graceful "klapback" at the ideologies that favour dominance and oppression, vanity and grandiosity.
This on the eve of Zanele Muholi's first exhibition in Cape Town since 2012. 
A fitting vernissage to Heritage Month and the opening of
Zanele Muholi work will be part of the collection at ZeitzMOCAA including this image
ZANELE MUHOLI, ODIDIVA I, DISTRICT SIX, CAPE TOWN 2010
Another icon to African excellence, a crucial salve inthe sorcery of imagination that will one day help heal the nation.


 
 
Dimpho Tsotetsi, Pretoria, 2017
 
 

ZANELE MUHOLI

On Thursday 31 August, 6-8pm
Click here for more information

The exhibition is on view until 7 October 2017.





Monday, 5 June 2017

A #BraveConversation with the one and only Odidiva


"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference" 
Amen.