Cape drag icon honoured

By LUKE FOLB Time of article published Sep 23, 2018

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Cape Town - Drag artist Kewpie was the talk of the town on the busy streets of District Six back in the 1960s.

At night, she captivated the disco scene with her eccentric, flamboyant style. During the day, she was nifty with a pair of scissors as she styled her clients’ hair.

Kewpie: Daughter of District Six, an exhibition at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, tells her story through a selection of photos from an archive of 700 prints and accompanying negatives.

Approximately 100 photos in the archives will go on show.

Born in 1941, the popular hairstylist and drag artist would often perform to packed audiences at District Six’s Ambassador Club.

She died in 2012, and the exhibition ensures her eccentricities are never forgotten.

The photographs and accompanying material explore Kewpie’s life, and the drag culture in District Six. The exhibition carefully crafts the public persona of drag queens and their private lives. The rich imagery takes the visitors back in time and offers a slice of District Six life.

Museum director Bonita Bennett said the exhibition tells a “wonderful story of resilience, zest for life, style and community lived out against the backdrop of forced removals which was happening all around.

“Kewpie’s story and that of the community around her, which included those whose gender choices were not mainstream, tells a story of acceptance and embracing of differences which is not without pain and struggle.”

The District Six Museum and the Gay & Lesbian Memory in Action (Gala) are joint hosts.

Curator Tina Smith says Gala has a “valuable resource which records a thriving and celebrated queer culture within a community that has since been displaced”.

The exhibition runs until January 18, to which there are various activities attached.

Weekend Argus

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