Every Saturday night, Mark Hinds and Jacques Rabie, the owners of the Karoo Theatrical Hotel, amaze their guests with a night-long cabaret and drag show in the small town of Steytlerville in the Eastern Cape.
The show, called “The Steytlerville Follies”, stars the couple in their flamboyant stage alter egos — the desert diva Dame Leyla Lamborghini and the piano maestro Freddy Ferrari.
“If you tell somebody that there is a drag show happening in the middle of absolutely nowhere… every single Saturday night, that creates curiosity,” Hinds told AFP as he added the final touches to the set.
A grand piano sat on the stage against the backdrop of bright pink party foil curtains, feathers and disco lights as around 20 guests took their seats in the dimly candle-lit hotel restaurant.
In his dressing room, minutes before the show began, Rabie recalled how “it was difficult” to begin with to put on the show in the region of mountains and wild expanses best known for ostrich farming.
“But after a while more people like us, more gay people… moved in and it became more acceptable in town,” he said as he put on his make-up.
Welcomed by his partner on stage, Rabie, wearing a blonde bob wig, high heels and a glittery pink corset dress ripped off his pink feather tutu skirt as he broke into song and dance.
For show-goer Lara Engelbrecht-Wilbraham, the performance was “classy and beautiful”. Celebrating her birthday, it was only the second time in her life that she had attended a drag show.
The 44-year-old who sells solar energy products brought her partner and two friends.
The show, which the organisers described as a rollercoaster of emotions, from outrageously funny to nostalgic, is “packed out every Saturday night”, said Hinds.
“One of the biggest things that draws people here is curiosity, having heard about something that they have never heard before, that they would have never thought possible,” he added.
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