TBR: Fast & Furious

VANESSA SMEETS

Kyalami1

RULE 1: Have a reliable pit-crew. Punctuality and communication are key.

“I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself,” Ferdinand Porsche.

Racing cars is not just sport, it’s become integrated into South African culture ever since I can remember. My first experience of racing? Sitting around and waiting for my parents to get off medical duty at race circuits around South Africa. I was only 7 years old and had no idea that one day I would be one of those women screaming, sighing and laughing nervously in the pits. My parents often shared their worst-case-scenarios of quadriplegics, stabbed jugulars and cindered off body hair… It was normal at our family dinners.

Kyalami2

RULE 2: Have a reliable car. Drive it with passion!

“Everyone in life is looking for a certain rush. Racing is where I get mine,” John Troutmann.

Ironically, my boyfriend’s favourite hobby is building and racing cars. His team? Team Beer Racing (TBR). Don’t get the wrong idea… It’s so much more than just a bunch of guys drinking and talking cars, it’s a brotherhood.

You risk your life at the hands of others. While one is great at giving advice, another is great with his hands and another with the wiring. It’s intricate. It’s time-consuming. But, best of all, it’s self-made.

After weeks of late nights and hassling our neighbours with loud grinding noises as well as early morning revving, my boyfriend’s car was ready for the African Endurance Series at Kyalami, 9 May 2015. 22 years later, all those family dinners flashed back with my nerves.

Kyalami3

RULE 3: Have an amazing support system.

I will never forget that date, as it was etched into our daily lives: “The engine has to be rebuilt… 30 days left,” “Sh*t! The left back tyre is loose… 10 days to go.”

Ladies, I warn you – you must have the patience to share your man with his machine. He will devote most of his free time to it and then come to bed smelling like petrol. Well, it’s okay! Support him with your kindness and smiles. I tried learning some car jargon, but quickly got lost…

Gentlemen, be patient with us women who support you. We are as tired as you, waiting patiently in cold beds… But it’s okay, we love you for your ambition and dedication. True men stick to the their rims!

“A smooth race never made a skillful driver,” Anon.

Kyalami, I thank you for the most stressful, yet adrenaline-packed, two hours of my life
, watching the love of my life at high speed amongst 40 cars. I will never forget the look on his face as the engine was finally finished: surprise. As the car ran: relief and as he finished the race with his partner: ecstasy.

Endurance racing is not really about winning, it’s about finishing. It’s about showing the other guys you did a great job building your car, that the endurance of building such a sweet piece of machinery was worth it.

I thank you, my racer, for allowing me to be your pit-girl but, most importantly, for teaching me the importance of self-discipline and fraternity. I’m so proud of you.

Braamfontein: Joburg’s creative hub

VANESSA SMEETS

There’s something magical about Braamfontein, Johannesburg’s creative hub; home to the Joburg Theatre, Neighbourgoods’ Market every Saturday and an array of funky art and coffee shops…

Road tripping through South Africa

VANESSA SMEETS

The route

ADVENTURE: The route for an 11-day road trip (in June/ July) that changed my perspective on South Africa.

Have you lost faith in South Africa? Just take your car and drive… 
Drive to the lost and unseen parts…

You will be greeted by the most incredible sunrise, the yearning for random children to wave at you, the eager “Oom” or “Tannie” to feed you… 

South Africa, the way it was meant to be, a mosaic of mountains, bushveld, beach, winelands and beauty in her purest form. Here is about 4000 kilometres around this amazing country…

 

Win with Arcade Empire!

Name SA  bands

WHO’S WHO? Name the missing bands/ musicians performing this Saturday… Copyright on collage: Vanessa Smeets/ selected pics off Net.

So, you can’t make it to Mozambique’s SIZZLING HOT beach party STRAB (The Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience)? Don’t despair…

Arcade Empire (next to The Grove shopping mall, Pretoria) is organising their own beach party with some of South Africa’s hottest bands and musicians!

The line-up includes:
– Black Cat Bones
– Bittereinder
– Tombstone Pete
– Natalie Chapman
– Raoul and Black Friday
– Gerald Clark
– Stefan Dixon
– Luna Paige

Would you like to win double tickets to Arcade Empire’s exciting Road to STRAB “Voodoo Beach” Party this Saturday (18 May 2013)? It starts from 3pm sharp…

All you have to do is name the missing bands on this collage (the names are above, just reshuffle them logically). Email your answers to tshwane.people@gmail.com. The first person with the correct five answers will win the tickets! Your name and your plus one will be put on the list.
Please ensure you write 1. name of band, 2. name of band, etc.

See you there!  
Reply to event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/163389610488490/

Valentine’s Day Ideas

VANESSA SMEETS

Ever the romantic, I decided to rack my brain for original ideas. These can be applied to both men and women.

“All you need is love, love is all you need…”
– The Beatles

  • Not a poet? Create a poem with your lover’s favourite song lyrics. The Beatles and Queen have incredible lines…
  • Love_flowerPlace petals on the bed, spelling the letters of their name. Too long a name? A letter for each petal.
  • Lingerie too expensive these days? Wrap yourself in a large bow. He must unwrap only using his tongue and teeth.
  • Prepare the room like a beach getaway. Pour champagne upon your darling… Cool water and bubbles, just like the ocean.
  • After showering together, tell him/her to meet you in the room. Come back only with whipped cream on the important bits… Shower again. Hehe…LOVE_naughty
  • Prepare breakfast in bed, but unique in that under each item he/she finds a word. They spell out whatever he/she means to you.
  • Buy a rose for his/her mom… She raised him/her after all.
  • Try making a card instead of buying a soppy one. “I took time for you…” says so much more.
  • Love_quoteTake him/her on a picnic. Prepare a type of treasure map of the park you choose. Every tree or bush indicated on the map hides a word describing what he/she means to you.
  • Go to the movies early, ask the people in charge if you can insert something before… “John, I love you…” “Thank you for everything, Jane…” He’ll be so surprised when you start watching the movie.
  • Spell their name out with adjectives:

e.g. IAN…

Incredible
Athletic
Naughty

The trick to romance is pure originality and knowing what your lover likes.
Is he/she a racer? Prepare a trip around in a McClaren, or whatever his/her favourite car may be. Test drives are free or cheaper 😉
A boxer? Get him/her new gloves with the words “Love” and “You” on each hand.
A tour guide? Surprise him/her with a tour of your body. Blindfold him/her. And explore you, tongue only.
A doctor? Play his naughty nurse side-kick… “Doctor, I’m not quite sure how to turn you on… Mind showing me?”

There’s only as far as your imagination can take you…

Watering Dreams… My Bucket List

VANESSA SMEETS

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

blog_crossroads-sign

CROSSROADS: 27… A year for change and growth. PIC: Internet

27 marks an incredible crossroad.
I’m ready to settle on a career (or two), yet fascinated by my surroundings. It’s also an age doomed for rock-stars like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jimi Hendrix, amongst others… Which is what influenced me to get started on my bucket list. One never knows when today is the last day.

Things already completed:

  • Reunion with my best friends from primary school. We laughed, we cried, we shared, after a long 14 years. Unfortunately, there was one missing member. She passed away tragically last year, but we felt her presence in so many ways – through the memories we shared and photos/ letters we brought.
  • Be part of Hillsong Church Australia. This church probably has the biggest congregation in the world, with millions of members worldwide. Its band, Hillsong United, has gone platinum several times. I was first introduced to them in 2007, a year which ultimately was filled with as much good as bad. Their music kept me grounded, when nothing else could.
  • Become a published poet. When you least expect it, doors open. Since the age of 15, I’ve been in love with William Shakespeare and John Keats. At 17, I finally started writing my own and four years later, my two favourite poems made the cut: one in an American anthology Twilight Musings and the other in a Christian anthology Angels &Little Scrolls.
  • Take a photo that changes the world… Well, my picture of two male students kissing didn’t change the world, but it certainly opened up the homophobia debate in South Africa and helped many scared individuals come out in an unaccepting world. See: Maties’ Gay Kiss Goes Viral

Things to come:

  • Do Spain walk (Santiago de Compostela) with my brother. I first heard about this incredible pilgrimage reading Paulo Coelho’s books. It is bound to change one’s life forever, bring you closer to those who accompany you and help you find yourself again.
  • Do Oktoberfest with my mom. Munich’s Oktoberfest is filled with hundreds of beers, incredible outfits, fun drinking songs till the early hours… What more could a photojournalist and true Belgian ask for?
blog_tomatina

RED HOT: La Tomatina Festival in Spain sees about 50 000 people gathered in the month of August to throw tomatoes at each other. PIC: Internet

  • Do tomato fight (La Tomatina) near Valencia, Spain, with my dad. I’m not sure why I chose my dad for this epic adventure, but probably because he’s the most adventurous person I know.
  • Finish my book. I started a book in 2007, which unlocks a lot about the mystery of life and true characters I met along the way… Just need to find the guts to complete it.
  • Publish a children’s series of books, bring them to the television screen, change their lives. I hope I don’t jinx this dream by placing it here, but children have always been life’s greatest teachers.
  • Work in the vineyards in France. Simple. Beautiful. I thank the movie A Good Year for this dream.
French vineyards

C’EST LA VIE: French wine. French sunset. Perfection. PIC: Internet

  • Go on a Contiki tour. Yes, next year may be it: my BFF and I traversing the Golden Age for our Golden Birthdays. Holding thumbs.
  • blog_machu-picchu

    LA VIDA LOCA: Exploring Machu Picchu was even on Che Guevara’s bucket list. PIC: Internet

    See Machu Picchu… Clichéd, yes. But Che Guevara proved anything is possible, even just with a motorbike.

  • Interview a head of state… I’d prefer someone who didn’t murder millions of people. Maybe someone who set them free instead, Nelson Mandela would be ideal.
  • Publish my blog as a book… YES!
  • Try out for Idols. Okay, Singstar doesn’t really count. I just love singing.
  • Work for Top Billing, South Africa’s most successful lifestyle programme. Getting paid to travel, interview amazing people and witness the oddest events? Hell yeah!
  • blog_paris hot air balloon

    LA VIE EN ROSE: Imagine seeing Paris from the sky? Incredible… PIC: Internet

    Fly in a hot air balloon in Paris. Why Paris? Its history, culture and people fascinate me…

  • Sell some art. My art isn’t amazing… but it would be amazing to see it in someone else’s home apart from my family members.
  • Be part of a flash-mob. I thank Channing Tatum and Step Up 4 for molding this dream. Booyah!
  • Go on a road-trip with good friends. Wherever. Whenever. As long as we’re together.
  • blog_casa-giulietta

    BRAVE DREAMS: The Casa di Giulietta provides women all over the world the opportunity to wish for love, heal it or find it, by placing letters in what is believed to be Juliet’s home in the real Verona… As the movie “Letters to Juliet” proved. PIC: Internet

    Write a love letter… Italian style, at the Casa de Giulietta in Verona.

  • Learn two more languages: Spanish and German fluently.
  • Write poetry in French. Not as easy as it seems.
  • See Neuschwanstein Castle in the spring. I saw it covered in snow in December 2010. It was magical, yet mostly hidden.
  • japan autumn

    AMAZING AUTUMN: One of my favourite months, in a land far far away… PIC: Internet

    See Japan in the autumn. Burning colours, peaceful music: a feastful zen for the eyes and soul.

  • Work on a cruise ship. I want to photograph people, places, lives, all religions and races.
  • Go back to Israel, live in a kibbutz. Israel was the most spiritual place I have ever been to, yet in 1996 I was too young to soak it all in.
  • Find someone to do this with. Fall in love. Be loved in return… That seems to be the biggest challenge of all. In the words of  Ursula K. Le Guin: “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” 

50 Shades of Sexpo South Africa

VANESSA SMEETS

The following article was written as a news piece for News24.com… It is therefore very unusual to Chica Papillon’s usual content. Sorry for offending any readers.

Pulse boys

WET WET WET: The Pulse boys from Joburg take to the main stage after dressing up as Baywatch lifeguards. Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

One of South Africa’s most anticipated events, SEXPO (Health, Sexuality and Lifestyle Exhibition), took place this weekend, with thousands of people gathering at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, to see what 2012 had to offer. Normal tickets cost R199, while VIPs were selling at R299 and included a lucky packet filled with info and a naughty DVD. My friends won tickets, so I was dared to go with them. Shew…

Pulse dancer

LAP DANCE: A lucky audience member is given a personal lap-dance. Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

Interestingly, I spotted more women than men walking around. Also, you can’t help staring at certain couples: a pair was walking around completely naked, while another pair walked around in chains and latex.
The Ladies’ Lounge was by far the most popular spot for both sexes. The Pulse boys from Joburg gave their version of Magic Mike (the SA Edition), by tearing off their kits (until their thongs) in front of dozens of screaming fans. There was even a blowjob competition, where girls were ordered to ummm… suck a banana. Those too keen broke their bananas several times. Adventurous-looking girls were dragged on to the stage to be given a public lap-dance.

Mark Anthony

SLEEP! World famous hypnotist Mark Anthony unleashes a disgusting smell in audience members’ subconscious, which leaves them reeling. Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

The Pulse boys also took to the main stage, dressed as naughty schoolboys, police officers, lifeguards (to the music of Baywatch) and other delightful female fetishes.
For those a little more conservative, there were aerial artists, hypnotists (including the famous Mark Anthony from Australia), comedians and rollercoaster rides.

Stalls Nasrec Expo Centre

TASTES FOR ALL: The stalls in the main hall catered for all tastes… Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

This year included a Fetish Ball for the first time, inspired by 50 Shades of Grey… With a secluded section sealed off for whipping, lashings and “those kind of” piercings.

The main hall’s products included a variety of perfume, hair equipment, gels, creams, naughty outfits, lingerie and new devices. Several stalls, for example, were trying to sell “the menstrual cup,” which they claim is more environment-friendly than the pad and healthier to use than the tampon. You’ll have to Google how it works exactly…

Pricasso

TALENTED: Auzzie Pricasso, the only artist of his kind in the world, entertains audience members with his tough talent. Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

The P*ssy Room was almost full constantly, showing short films from various countries. But, to many South Africans, the films were too long to bear. Many exited the cinema during a film about a woman masturbating in public. People were also shocked by the extreme close-ups of a couple, dressed in spandex from head to toe. They cut holes in their outfits at various intervals, until the Grand Finalé.

I met people who go to Sexpo just to see “Pricasso,” a talented Australian who enjoys doing portraits of his audience, celebrities and politicians with his, yes, penis and does the final touches with his buttocks. You can get your portrait done at R300 or a double portrait of you and a friend at R400.

The Playboy Lounge was also hugely successful, selling five signed copies of the magazine at R100. Jade Fairbrother, 2012’s Playmate of the Year, was the friendliest playmate claiming my guy friends would “love me forever” if I was daring enough to get them some copies. We’ll have to see about their reactions…

Jade Fairbrother

PLAYBOY PEN: SA’s first playmate ever, Jade Fairbrother, kindly poses with us daring girls. Copyright: Vanessa Smeets

Paris, je t’aime…

VANESSA SMEETS

Ever fallen in love with a city ? You dream night and day of dancing to her music, eating her food and exploring her every inch. Every time you return home, you long to go back…

Paris, much like Berlin, Barcelona or Munich, is one of the few cities in the world that has this effect. She is filled with so much motion and emotion, you often feel lost in her culture, history and characters.

 

She is the most visited city in the world with an estimated 42 million tourists annually. Her 12 million inhabitants make her one of the most concentrated cities in the European Union. She has produced the highest number of higher education students in the EU through her 17 universities and 55 grandes écoles (Ivy League schools).

She contains about 3800 historical monuments and has inspired the world’s leading poets and philosophers. She is also hub to the world’s leading fashion houses : Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint-Laurent, Dior and Chanel.

Paris, a city for lovers of art, music, history, literature and lovers themselves. 

Rien ne m’a fait jamais battre le cœur
Rien ne m’a fait ainsi rire et pleurer
Comme ce cri de mon peuple vainqueur
Rien n’est si grand qu’un linceul déchiré
Paris Paris soi-même libéré

Nothing ever made ​​my heart beat as much
Nothing made ​​me laugh and cry
As much as the cry of my winning people
Nothing is as large as a torn shroud
Paris Paris, in herself released
– Louis Aragon, Paris

Her top attractions include :

Disneyland Paris : 15 million annual visitors
Notre Dame Cathedral : 13,6 million visitors
Sacré Cœur : 10,5 million visitors
The Louvre Museum : 8,8 million visitors
Eiffel Tower : 7 million visitors

Paris only became France’s capital in 508 AD/CE, after Lyon under King Clovis, and again in 1180 under King Philippe Auguste. The city of Vichy temporarily replaced Paris as France’s capital during World War II. This change in political structure was known as the Vichy-Regime.

Originally known as “Lutetia” meaning “midwater-dwelling” under the Romans, Paris became a popular and populous town built around the beautiful Seine river. The name “Paris” is derived from Homer’s Iliad based on Paris, the Trojan prince’s search for Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships. Paris therefore means “Son of a noble father.” Some believe the name is actually derived from the Celtic Gallic word parisio meaning hardworking people/ craftsmen. Other historians believe the name comes from “Par Isis” (from Isis, the Egyptian goddess of nature, magic and wisdom). Paris is also often nicknamed “La Ville-Lumière” or the city of lights.

For more important dates in Parisian history, visit : http://goparis.about.com/od/historyculture/a/ParisHistory.htm

Paris is also home to the Théâtre du Châtelet, where the César awards are held every year in February. The Césars are the French equivalent to the Academy Awards/ Oscars.

Here is my own version of the Césars…

  • Best French actor : Gaspard Ulliel. He’s only 28, but rose to fame as the lead-role in Hannibal Rising. Bitten by a doberman at the age of 6, his sexy scar on his left cheek looks like a cute dimple. You may remember him also as the missing soldier from Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement).
  • Best French actress : Marion Cotillard. She’s only 37 but has already made her mark in Hollywood by starring in blockbusters like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. Her French roles are the most memorable though, especially as Edith Piaf in La Môme/ La vie en rose.
  • Best stage performance : Grands Corps Malade (Big Sick Body). Paralysed at the age of 20 after diving, Fabien Marsaud was told he would never walk again. Fully recovered, he now inspires audiences around the world through his thought-provoking melodic poetry known as slam. His best pieces include Les voyages en train and Le jour se lève.
  • Best French thriller : Le Premier Cercle, Jean Reno and Gaspard Ulliel play hard-core gangsters in southern France as well as father and son.
  • Best French comedy : Amélie. Amélie sees the world very differently to the rest of us. Every sense is awoken by her curiosity.
  • Best French romance : Paris, je t’aime. See Paris through the eyes of 18 very different directors who picture love in all its forms…

 

Extra info :
http://www.parisdigest.com/information/facts.htm
www.wikipedia.org
Hancock, G. & Bauval, R. 2004. Talisman : Sacred Cities, Secret Faith. Penguin Books: London.

Unrequited Love…

VANESSA SMEETS

Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

burning desire

CHASING A DREAM: Sometimes the burning desire to be loved in return leads you astray from the one person with you every step of the way: yourself. PIC: Internet

After years of searching for love in unconventional places, it hit me… Love is neither word nor feeling. It is action: 

Listening.
Dreaming.
Being.
Seeing.
Becoming.

But, this is not necessarily accomplished through others, but through the only person that can ultimately love you 100% in return: yourself. And once you fall in love with you are, the rest happens naturally… Not in the narcissistic kind of way, of course. Unfortunately, millions of people are dealing with unrequited love (devoting attention to people who feel very little for them) in their daily lives, leading them to becoming martyrs and masochists, allowing them to replace love with lust.

Love heals old wounds through patience and kindness, lust temporarily blinds you from them.

unrequited love cartoon

HEARTLESS: Wearing your heart on your sleeve only to have it getting lost or broken. PIC: Internet

With over 7 billion people on earth, the search to find one’s soul-mate that sets your soul aflight, wipes away your fears and whom you can ultimately share a family with, has become a life-long dilemma. In ancient Greece, soul-mates were believed to be souls who had been cut in half, left to search the world for their missing halves. For centuries, this search has fascinated poets, philosophers, song-writers and playwrights.

William Shakespeare based most of his plays and poetry on it. Ophelia in Hamlet believes he is the love of her life, only to discover that his obsession with his mother borders on incest. She literally drowns her sorrows by throwing herself in the castle’s moat, left to search for love for eternity. At first, Hamlet shows no remorse or guilt towards her death. But at her burial, he loses it completely, throwing himself into her grave: “Forty thousand brothers / Could not, with all their quantity of love, / make up my sum” (V.i.254–256).

Plato mastered the search for love in his Symposium. He cleverly deciphered erotic, selfish love (eros) from giving, selfless love (agape). He explains that true contentment only comes once one realizes the difference and gives up his soul not to someone else, but to the wisdom rejection brings.

unrequited love charlie brown

OH, SCHULTZ: Even Charlie Brown was fascinated by unrequited love, searching his world for that little red haired girl. PIC: Internet

In contemporary society, the search for love has been both infused and confused with physical satisfaction. Magazines like FHM and Cosmopolitan, have led readers to believe that guys give love for sex and girls give sex for love. The man who falls into this trap continues to mislead women he is worth her while and dotes on her every move. Like the little schoolgirl being chased on the playground through the game, “kissing catchers,” she is flattered but scared. When she finally cracks and kisses or sleeps with him, he loses interest.
The more he rejects her, the more she yearns for him. This yearning can last for months or years, until she finally sees him with someone else.

Many women who have been victims to this, try to get revenge by turning the tables and sleeping with a guy first and then trying to break his heart later. Even if the guy is finally “Mr Nice Guy,” she feels tempted to cheat on him in order to justify her past mistakes. Or, she cheats on herself by becoming destructive towards him. She’ll act like the jealous, insecure type to see how much she truly means. All this, because she doesn’t believe she is special or unique enough to be loved, so fills the void by degrading herself and putting herself into tempting situations. The physical becomes the all, in order to avoid the emotional. 

Unrequited love is a lonely but inspiring quest:

It is the slow realization you are discovering the world in someone, only to realize they’ve conquered you already.

unrequited love - time

TIME AFTER TIME: They say time heals all wounds… Disagreed. It’s what you do in that time… PIC: Internet

The question is: can you conquer your own insecurities and fears to meet your true soul-mate? The one reflecting years of experience, staring at you in silence from the mirror, wishing you would notice them just once and not go back on that futile quest.

Here’s a short guide to distinguish love from lust, helping you to walk away from that which leads you on, only to lead you astray…

LOVE LUST
Focus on future Focus on present
Compassionate communication Constant fighting
Their needs Your needs
Feeling of renewal, growth Feeling of restraint, insecurity
Discussions focus on emotional: dreams, aspirations, goals Discussions focus on physical: sexual positions, past partners, libido
Security causing release: you want the best for them, even if that means letting go Insecurity causing control: you want him/ her all to yourself, all the time
Long-lasting, compassionate Quick-fix, competitive
Sentimental gifts (thoughtful/ nostalgic) Material gifts (expensive/ impressive)
A journey of emotional discovery A roller-coaster ride of physical satisfaction