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ELECTIONS & ERECTIONS (article first published : 2003-02-18)

Elections & Erections – A Memoir of Fear and Fun is the title that Pieter-Dirk Uys has given to his long-awaited memoir. Describing himself as a political satirist, entertainer and AIDS activist – he’s also been appointed “head boy” of St Cyprians in Cape Town - his contribution to the make-up of South African society is considerable. Particularly after having created his alger-ego, the irrepressible Evita Bezuidenhout.

Always elegantly dressed in designer gowns, beautifully coiffured, varnished fingernails and impossible high heels, she is able to venture where no stand-up comic or political satirist has dared to go, and get away with it! She’s even appeared in Parliament with the cactus that appears on the book’s cover. And who else would get away with a title such as Dekaffirnated which aimed at fighting racism with humour?

Natascha Adendorff’s cover design is highly amusing. Pieter-Dirk Uys proudly wears an AIDS beaded brooch and holds said cactus while a bewelled Evita looks on in alarm! In the background, kitsch painted ducks flap across a cloudy sky towards the towering Voortrekker Monument.

Elections and Erections covers Pieter-Dirk’s life so far – and it’s action-packed, to say the least. The book is divided into three parts: Foreplay, Elections and Erections.

In Foreplay, Pieter-Dirk deals with his youthful exposure to sex –panting through the Angelique series, a book of Victorian nudes and Krafft-Ebbing’s volume of sexual deviations. A pleasurable experience at Bachelor’s Cove woke him to the fact that he was drawn more towards physical relationships with males rather than females. The chapter also deals with his early days at The Space Theatre in Cape Town, the release of Nelson Mandela and his first meeting with someone who had AIDS. Foreplay documents the birth of Evita Bezuidenhout, now undoubtedly the most famous white woman in South Africa.

The considerable, passionate and special energy that is Pieter-Dirk Uys came to the fore when he realised that the majority of South Africans were not vigorously embracing their right to cast a vote in the elections of June 1999. No support from Government was forthcoming so he teamed up with actress and director Lynne Maree, gathered up a few TV teams and set off on the Great Election Trek. This is covered with humour and undeniable poignancy in diary form in Elections.

Erections deals with the work that Pieter-Dirk is doing now. Generated by the same passion that drove him to open people’s minds to the power of a well-placed vote, he set himself an almost impossible task. To teach young people, through the medium of entertainment, that they can die of love unless they protect themselves with safe sex. At the time of writing he has about 400 schools on the waiting list for his programme For Fact’s Sake.

Zapiro’s cartoons are a delight and my favourite features Mandela striding uphill hauling the resisting figures of President Thabo Mbeki and Minister of Health MantoTshabalala-Msimang. It’s title? Epic Productions present Nelson Mandela in “The Long Walk to Free Aids Drugs.”

Pieter-Dirk thanks past and present South African politicans who “as unconscious scriptwriters” have provided his all material. He adds: “I could not have made up what I explore so eagerly.” In his writing he is, as always, scathingly brilliant, disarmingly self-revealing, refreshingly honest and deliciously un-PC!

Published by Zebra Press, Elections & Erections retails at R129.95. But you’d better keep checking the book stores, because half the time the book is sold out and they’re waiting for new stocks! – Caroline Smart




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