Funky electronic act The Kiffness have released an amazing new video honouring SA’s LGBTI community and the victims of the Orlando massacre.
The Cape Town based duo’s dancefloor killer track You Say You Love Me features the vocal talents of American singer Tawanna Shaunte and is described as “a song about love, rejection and all the complexities that come with it”.
The video, however, does not feature Shaunte and instead highlights the fierce Manila Von Teez, one of Cape Town’s most celebrated drag artists, who puts on a foot-stopping performance that will have you shaking your booty.
The clip, dubbed “a poignant celebration of identity and sexuality,” begins with the words: “This video is dedicated to those who lost their lives in Orlando, Florida – 12 June 2016.”
The Kiffness’ David Scott told Mambaonline that the video has a particularly powerful resonance because it was coincidentally filmed on Loader Street in De Waterkant, Cape Town on the actual day of the mass shooting.
“When filming wrapped we received news that there had been a tragic shooting in an Orlando nightclub targeting the LGBT community – at the exact same time that we were filming the video,” he said.
“Having just returned from creating a video celebrating the LGBT community, the news hit close to home and we were devastated. We all agreed it would be remiss of us to not dedicate the video to those who had lost their lives in the shooting,” Scott explained.
He said that one of the reasons the band chose to use a drag performer was because of the opening words of the song: “You say you love me, but you don’t”.
“We wanted the star to be someone who might be able to resonate with those words. Many of my friends in the LGBT community have felt that, growing up, they’ve had to pretend to be someone that they’re not for fear of what society might think of them.
“So we thought that having a drag queen as the star is immediately interesting from a visual point of view and would catalyse conversations around issues of identity and sexuality while bringing added meaning and value to the words of the song,” Scott said.
Von Teez was scouted by director Quinton Lavery, who went to the club Zero21 where she often performs, to look for stars for the video. After watching a few drag shows he recommended Von Teez for the production.
“I think she was without a doubt the right person for the video and she absolutely killed it,” Scott enthused.
Von Teez (created by Veon Wentzel) told Mambaonline that she thinks the video is amazing. “The fact that we, especially the broader drag community, are being sought after as mainstream performers is long overdue, and an honour,” she said.
“The art form is an amazing one and I really hope that the appearance on the music video will open doors for even more drag performers to be seen,” she added.
Von Teez said that the music video was filmed in one continuous shot. “We had to do the entire song from start to end as perfect as possible. We did about six practice runs and then recorded runs of the song roughly 10 times. Besides the tiring factor, the getting dressed all over and re-attaching my wig was in itself challenging. The team were amazing and this made things so much easier.”
Scott went on to say that he would like the video to start conversations around sexual identity, especially with people with conservative views. “I also want the video to empower and encourage members of the LGBT community to never be ashamed of who they are.”
Scott later sent us a deeply personal statement, which we have included below:
The Kiffness: David Scott & Clem Carr
“I had a really tough time at junior school. I was once at a sleep over with a bunch of mates and we were all mucking about and long story short I touched a boy’s penis. The boy shouted to everyone ‘Hey guys, Dave touched my winky!’
“The next day the rumour quickly spread that I was gay and it wasn’t long before I became the laughing stock of the school. I knew that I wasn’t gay and that I was just being silly and curious, but going through junior school and parts of high school being called ‘gay’ or ‘faggot’ did a lot of damage to me.
Even as I write this I can feel the hurt that this caused rising up and creating a pain in my chest.
“Now even though this was painful to write, that part of my life has passed and I have made peace and forgiven those that teased me and brought me this pain. I am now married to the woman of my dreams and I couldn’t be happier. With this being said, I often think to myself – what if I was gay? What if I was bullied for being something that was the foundation of who I am? How much more hurt would that have caused?
“Although I’ll never be able to fully comprehend the pain that members of the LGBT community go through on a daily basis, I can relate to the pain on some level. I think that’s why I am so proud of the music video for our new song, because it sends a strong message that you should never be ashamed of who you are or what you have done.
“I have learned that being vulnerable takes a certain level of courage and it can be scary, but when you bring the things you keep secret out of the dark and into the light, the crippling fear that the secret once had over you is lost and is replaced with joy and peace.”