Where: Durban North beach. South Africa.
When: 31st Dec. 2013
Featuring: Trans and gay identifying individuals.
Camera used: Canon 6D with 85mm lens, f.stop: 2.8
Photos by Zanele Muholi
Text by Lerato Dumse
2013 Dec. 29: Durban, South Africa.
It is just after 5am, the girls are woken up from their beauty sleep to prepare themselves for the beach day photos shoot..
The destination is Durban North beach for the swimwear calendar shoot. The participants consist of transwomen and feminine gay men from various locations of Johannesburg, Durban and surrounding areas.
While most of them are from the province, others travelled all the way from different townships in Gauteng. After driving around in Umlazi collecting other models in various sections, we eventually made our way to the city.
The beach was not our first stop as more beauty accessories had to be bought. We passed by Kinky for hair situated at the Workshop and checked camera shop for batteries but did not get it.
Most of the stores were still closed and we ended up at the Pavillion shopping mall.
The weather was cloudy and threatening to rain.
The photographers kept emphasizing that rain and cameras are serious foes.
We finally reached the beach, after being harassed briefly by car guards, we found a spot and parked. The Quantum taxi transporting us was converted into changing rooms.
The transformation process began.
While some were changing, others shaving, there were those tucking their bulges to avoid the spectacle on their bikini. Wigs and weaves were styled and the all-important make-up was applied.
For some, it was a new experience and they needed assistance. For the veterans it was a smooth process.
Ironically it was the pros who took longer to finish as they tried to reach perfection.
When the girls stepped out of their makeshift change room they commanded the attention of curious onlookers. And they looked beautiful, stunning and sexy in their various shapes and sizes.
Then the moment arrived and it was time for the girls to pose, and pose they did.
All sorts of aerobatic and creative moves were unveiled and people not wanting to be outshined.
Unity and togetherness was the order of the day.
With the photoshoot wrapped up, it was time for lunch and Ice cream for dessert.
Before departing for home, personal reflections were shared by all those involved in the photo shoot including the photographers.
According to Lesiba Mothibe from Daveyton, Gauteng: “Today just exceeded my expectations. I thought we were just going to take pics and people would stare at us.
Our pictures were beautiful. The content produced today is of international standards.
I didn’t feel gay today, I felt like a woman.”
Melvin Humbane from Durban: “Today was political and revolutionary experience because we had to deal with issues of confidence and being comfortable in our bodies. I have so much respect for feminine gays who dress in female clothes daily. Today I did something I’ve always wanted to try, but was not brave enough to try it, especially at the beach front.”
Candice Nkosi from Tsakane Gauteng started her day on a sad note. She received news that a guy she nearly married had passed away. However, being around the girls revived her spirit. “Today we dressed the way we wanted and we were not crucified” she concluded.
Mellisa Mbambo from Durban: “I felt like I was on ‘America’s next top model.’
I made sure that everyone was on the same level. At some point I thought I was on Baywatch and I was Pamela Anderson.”
Maxoli “Chee’z Girl” Shabalala from Umlazi Durban: “The plan was to take pictures quickly, then rush to work. But when I saw how fabulous everything and everyone was, I ended up staying for the whole day.”
Sazi Jali from Durban “It was my first time wearing a swim suit. I’ve never seen or imagined a fat person like me wearing a swimsuit.
This year was hard for me, losing a friend, then Nelson Mandela’s death.
Today was the highlight for me.”
The photo shoot will be continued and more bodies and voices to be included…