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Life is more than a cabaret for Bambi

– Rafiek Mammon, Tonight, 21 April 2006

Bambi Kellermann is the "internationally" famous (or should that read infamous?) half-sister of Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout — often regarded as the most famous and respected white woman in South Africa. Bambi is in town to do a cabaret at the Intimate Theatre. Rafiek Mammon asked this legendary figure a few questions.

Is Bambi Kellermann any relation of the famous actress, Antoinette Kellermann?

It is ironic that Antoinette Kellermann is just what I want to look like — that beautiful, soft white hair, the elegant, arrogant posture, the great uncluttered talent. I hope she is not related to my late husband Joachim von Kellermann, because he was a Nazi and as we know Antoinette is a South African.

Who exactly is Bambi Kellermann and what is her claim to fame?

I am the younger, prettier and nicer sister of Evita Bezuidenhout. We were both born in the OFS, but haven't spoken for over 20 years. She hates me.

I have been living in Europe since 1957, hiding my Nazi husband from those who want to punish him for his crimes against humanity. We lived in Paraguay for some years, where he found friends in that government. He is now dead and I am back in South Africa. I run a wine-tasting cellar in Paarl. Die Son says it's a brothel — but how would they know the difference?

Is she Tannie Evita's half-sister, real sister or koeksister?

Evita is my half-sister. We had different fathers. Our mother was the organist in the NG Kerk in Bethlehem and she used to take choir practice a bit too far. My father was a bass with curly black hair and Evita's father was a small, thin tenor with a very, very big nose.

How do the two square up?

Evita hates me. Why? I don't know. In fact, she is so horrible to me that she and I will never appear in the same place at the same time. That's why I am so glad to be able to do my cabaret at the Intimate Theatre off Orange Street and not be trapped in her Perron in Darling where I am sure she will poison me with her koeksisters and bury me under the platform.

And the rest of the family?

There's just our mother Ouma Ossewania Kakebenia Poggenpoel, who is 103 years old. She is in the old age home in Darling and thinks I'm still a PT teacher in George (and a virgin).

How do they respond to Bambi when she's in town?

Evita calls the police and tries to insinuate that I have secret information on:

a) Jacob Zuma

b) Koeberg

c) The Arms Deal

d) Underhand deals with Saddam Hussein and members of the ANC

e) Brett Kebble.

I just laugh and offer the police a free drink — after they've finished.

Will the family see Bambi's show at all?

Evita's little grandchildren love me and always send me flowers but they're too young to come to my show. My show is not for sissies or for anyone who has not yet had an organism and/or climax!

And who is this Pieter-Dirk Uys chap that is often associated with these thespian figures?

Pieter-Dirk Uys is reputed to be one of the best stage managers in the world and he trained at the Little Theatre drama department too. He will always find me the right clothes to wear, the best whisky to drink, the prettiest boys to make love to and the most intelligent critics to attend my show. Evita hates him because he impersonates her when he's drunk. Yes, he's far too fat but hell, he's on the button when it comes to doing Tannie Evita.

So Bambi is doing a cabaret? Tell us more...

Yes. It is me, Bambi Kellermann, singing songs I love and telling stories no one ever thought they'd hear in public. It is a journey through a shattered world — Germany, Austria, Holland, England and Paraguay, ending up in the optimism and divine decadence of Cape Town, where all stories that don't start there must end. Its words and songs are in English, Afrikaans and German.

It's about love and laughter, about shame and sorrow, about boys dressing as girls and girls dreaming about boys.

It's about overweight, middle-aged women creating goddesses in the spotlight and memories of former youth just fading away before the sexy realities of confidence and passion.

What can audiences look forward to?

A tribute to Marlene Dietrich? I might bring on six naked people. Or a small dog that dances to Die Stem while having an erection. Or make a summersault without broeks on. Or just tell the truth.

Then there's mention of a Godfrey Johnson ... who dat?

Pianist, artist and mentor Godfrey Johnson is my arranger. I wish I could say he is also my sole composer but that isn't true. He's everyone's composer. He's taken the songs from the FAK and the arrangements of Kurt Weill and made magic. He has nudged Stephen Sondheim into a musical duvet with Rachmaninov and he also can sing like an angel. Thank God at least one of us has a voice. I only have a trick pelvis.

How does Bambi feel about koeksisters, Bobotie, droe wors and biltong?

I love all the muti from my childhood. Boerewors and all that was just normal food for poor Afrikaners in Bethlehem in the 1950s. I loved Nestlé chocolate and peppermint ice-cream that we bought from Mr Patel, who had the local Indian shop in Voortrekkerweg and always cheated everyone except me. Dro‘wors? Liebchen, what can I say? At my age, all wors is pretty droog!

How would Bambi word her own invitation to the public to see her cabaret?

Don't be safe and sound at home, watching mind-deadening, politically correct television. Come to the Intimate Theatre every Sunday night at 8pm and have an experience very close to your first sexual adventure: personal, painful, passionate and pretty perfect.

Life is too short to depend on the tinned product. I am live. I am fat. I am blonde. I may be drunk. I will be in tune. I should be in tights. You will be in ecstasy. And you won't need a condom!

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from 2006