Pieter-Dirk Uys gets an astonishing response when he talks with 12-year-old black children in South Africa about apartheid.
They laugh at me, he says.
They say, -˜You were mad.’
And I say yes, you are right. We were completely insane, for a helluva long time. And lots of people died because we were insane and deaf and blind.
The madness now, according to Uys (pronounced Ace), is complacency, something the comic struggles against in his one-man shows.
Performances such as Life In Boerassic Park and You ANC Nothing Yet! have seen Uys attack everything from apartheid to ignorance about AIDS.
He also does it in drag, playing characters such as Jewish mum Evita Bezuidenhout and her sister Bambi Kellerman.
When he was here for the Gay Games Uys performed Foreign AIDS, a show primarily concerned with South Africa’s raging epidemic.
This year’s show Erections And Elections is about two things illegal in South Africa for much of the artist’s life: democracy and sex.
And sex of course also leads to where we are with Africa today and HIV, he says. We’re not getting any focus on it and I think gesture politics has taken over in the world now -¦
But Erections And Elections is also about democracy. Of course the extraordinary reality of George Bush going on and on and now Condoleezza Rice going on and on.
There’s an Eveready battery up her bum and she never stops moving.
I hope somebody does her. She’s such a gift for a drag queen. Look at that wonderful hair. I think she must be done.
Uys promises guest appearances by Nelson Mandela, P.W. Botha and Desmond Tutu and possibly even John Howard, a figure Uys says should be easy to mimic.
He says it’s all about bringing South Africa to Australia by providing examples and comparisons that ring bells.
When he speaks of South Africa since apartheid, however, the sentiments already resonate.
The biggest danger is that we’re taking it for granted. The biggest danger is that with democracy we say, -˜Oh we’ve got freedom, so it’s okay,’ he says.
It’s not okay. Freedom gets diluted by politicians and before you know it, it’s disappeared.
Erections And Elections is playing at the Seymour Centre, cnr City Road and Cleveland Sts, Chippendale, from 10 to 12 March and 15 to 19 March. Phone 9351 7940 for bookings.