Looking more like Angela Merkel than her heroine Marlene Dietrich, Bambi Kellerman took to the Guy Butler Theatre stage yesterday for a bit of late-afternoon pizazz. Kellerman, Pieter-Dirk Uys’s cabaret befok alter ego and younger sibling of Evita Bezuidenhout, described her stage routine as “heavy breathing with storytelling”. It was a fair assessment.
Her one-off matinee kicked off with a rendition of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Alabama Song, made famous by The Doors, but quickly segued into the Afrikaans children’s rhyme Hansie Slim.
These two poles defined her routine, which, concisely, is an uneven mashup of nostalgia and naughtiness.
Kellerman, who fled her identity as Sarie “Baby” Poggenpoel (she didn’t want to “die a virgin in Bethlehem”), narrates her raunchy biography from the vantage of a washed up songstress running a brothel in Paarl. Europe saved and ruined Kellerman. It was where she met her husband, Joachim von Kellerman, a former Nazi general with hard fists, but also encountered Weimar music.
Accompanied by Godfrey Johnson on piano, Kellerman summoned the ghosts of Weill and Dietrich, as well as Ira Gershwin and Pete Seeger, whose folk classic was updated to ask, “Where have all the young men gone?” Kellerman is on ARVs. Unlike Zachie, reveals Kellerman in an unrehearsed aside, she takes hers with vodka.
Never Too Naked gracefully tottered between funny and plaintive. Kellerman, the original Amy Winehouse, was most endearing when she allowed her mask to slip. “It’s not about freedom of expression,” said the nearly 70-year-old man who first imagined this fictional showgirl extraordinaire sometime in 1985. “It is about the freedom to laugh.”
Evita Bezuidenhout will be doing a walkabout at the Monument at 11.30am.