Photography

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14min7450

To Zodwa Wabantu nudity is liberation and most likely an act of taking authority of her body as a black woman. While Adolf Hitler saw it as undignified and an error of taste- the disparity in opinion on the subject of nudity in society, is glaring as the difference between Zodwa and Hitler.

BEING NAKED…

There are those who cringe at any mention of being naked so much that even being bare in their lone self is daunting owing to battles with self-image. You know, the kind who are more comfortable with the lights off during coitus who dread showering with others.  Then there’s a section in society which gets aroused at the sight of breastfeeding nipples, a melancholy shlong, defiant thighs or innocent buttocks. This pack, which a lot of us gents belong to, has been socialised to translate the state of undress as sexuality.

It’s this group of guys which nudist Nombulelo’Lelo’ Asiya has gotten used to fending off in her DMs. “I can’t even just randomly open an image from someone I don’t really know, because I know there’s an 80% chance it’s a dick pick which I honestly find disgusting. In as much as I’m open about sex and everything, I actually find penises to be the most vulgar things out there, like yo put it away hey,” says Lelo.

The 25 year-old describes herself as a free-spirit, who has always had a fondness for showing some skin. “I don’t know what inspired my nudity, I’ve always liked skimpy or barely there clothing, I’ve always hated underwear and loved being barefoot,” she says. But a 2018 relationship breakup presented an opportunity for something she’s always desired, but wasn’t free to indulge in because of the partners in her life.

ALONE AT SEA: One of Lelo's shots at the the beach. Photo by Gifdick
BACK TO THE BEACH: One of Lelo’s shots at the the beach. Photo by Gifdick

“I’ve always been in relationships where my significant other has never really been comfortable with me showing my body to the world. Every guy that I have dated has seen my body as a private thing, something they could only enjoy; they always thought that if I was showing myself I was doing [it] to attract attention from guys. So in 2018 when I became single I just came out (literally, I became nude and bisexual at the same time), and I’ve been single and nude ever since,” declares Lelo.

“In all honesty if I had dated a man who was secure within himself to allow me to be my full self, I probably would’ve been nude long before 2018, probably around 2015/2016 when I first came to Durban.” Lelo is originally from Kimberly but moved to KwaZulu-Natal to study and then eventually work in the province. Having spent five years in KZN, she moved back home in 2021.

Lelo says her DMs gradually became dark and twisted as she posted more nudes. “The more open I became with my sexuality and sex in a general sense, the more brave men became in my DMs.”

The first ‘dirty’ photo she shared on Instagram was after getting a tattoo of a flower, which someone later reported to her family. “My mother knows of the nude content that I take, uhm I went viral on twitter around October last year and my sister snitched on me on that and my called and we had a conversation about it all and she’s cool honestly. She says as long as I am not prostituting myself, it’s my body my life and I can do with it as I please.”

THE INFAMOUS FLOWER TAT: Lelo posing for the camera in her bed.Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
STAYING IN: Lelo posing for the camera in bed.Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda

MONETIZING THEM NUDES…

The audacity of men in DMs, has fast tracked the prominence of the direct exchange between the nudists who wants to monetize her nakedness and the thirst-trapped fan willing to pay for them nudes. A platform such as OnlyFans, which was not created to be an alternative erotic sites when it launched in 2016, has become an industry leader. Followers of the content creator pay a subscription fee to access the most sought-after images and videos.

Some of the biggest names on OnlyFans are people who stumbled into it after being cautioned many times by Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to refrain from posting raunchy content. Actress Rami Chuene was all over the headlines two years ago when she came out in full support of her daughter Nthateng’s OnlyFans account.

FROM ALL ANGLES: A shot of Lelo taken by friends.
NIPPED IN ALL ANGLES: A shot of Lelo taken by friends.

DM action is the norm on such platforms, where content creators take requests from their fans to perform a myriad of sexual or non-sexual acts. The growth of this sub-genre has disrupted the pornographic industry with actors now having direct ownership of their content, it has seen simple nudists turn into porn stars and has also evinced that a lot of men are satisfied with pleasuring themselves after paying a random damsel to act-out their desires.

Lelo has also began making money from her nudes a few months through the website ManyVids. “I do sometimes take request or curate special content but all of this depends on the type of request. I have strict rules on what I will and will not do. Yes I post nude pictures, but it’s not sexual content necessarily. I am more artistic with my nude content, so if there is a request come along those lines, I’d be happy to oblige, all for a fee of cause.” She uses ManyVids due to OnlyFans’ refusal to verify her account because she doesn’t have a smart ID card or a passport.

NO SHAME IN IT…

ALONE AT THE BEACH. Photo by SNZstudios
ALONE AT THE BEACH. Photo by SNZstudios

Lelo does not see this as glorified prostitution. “If I am going to be blatantly honest, it’s the same thing as sending your boyfriend a nude picture of yourself when you’re trying to be spicy in your relationship, the only difference is I get paid to do what I do, or you have to pay money to view my content. When I was doing it for free on Instagram, I would get so many DMs from men telling me that they are going to take my pictures and go masturbate to them,” she says.

“So I thought to myself, listen if they are doing this for free best they’ll pay for it so I moved my content to a paying platform. I do not regret doing that, men have even become more respectful towards me now that they have to pay for the images because they understand I have to work hard to maintain the quality of my content.”

“These aren’t random nude selfies, its actual production, professional photographers, lighting, steam; so much goes into my work. And can we stop this negative connotation people have towards sex workers. It’s a job just like everything else, it’s an important job as well. In all honesty, just think about it, if there were no prostitutes or online girlfriends, I genuinely think rape would be at a way more higher rate than it is right now. People like me, cam girls, strippers, prostitutes, online girlfriends etc, make it ok for people to be themselves. Doing what I do, I have seen people be their most authentic selves, no pretence, because they know with me I won’t judge them by their desires, I judge them by who they are as a person.”

An image of Lelo. Photo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
RED HOTT:An image of Lelo by Panda @iamkingpvnda
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9min8703

Koketso Rakobela is a chef, but a look at her Instagram account would have you thinking she’s a foodie influencer. She has a mouth-watering sense of style, a good taste in art and comes off authentic as a plate of pap and inyama ye ntloko. But in the culinary streets, she’s christened herself with a moniker which gives more insight into who she is-The Brown Chef.

“Brown Chef came about when I realized just how much I love the colour and tone of my skin. I wanted to make it known somehow that I love being brown, and I’m a chef. So, that’s how Brown Chef came about,” Rakobela tells me.

Koketso Rakobela. Photo by Dimpho Mmotlana
Koketso Rakobela. Photo by Dimpho Mmotlana

While the Dorah Sitholes, Gordon Ramsays and Nigella Lawsons utilized traditional media to grow their brands through TV shows and print publications, today’s cooks use social media to promote their work-which gives them more authority in the curation of their content- and are seemingly more mindful about being brands.

“I’ve always been a creative person, but I think I wasn’t quite sure as to where I was headed with the creativity. I don’t want to limit myself to just being in the kitchen. I want to see myself do everything that I’m passionate about i.e. photography, modelling and a whole lot of other things which I won’t reveal just as yet,” says the ambitious chef. “If I’m not in the kitchen, I’m in front of the camera shooting pictures of myself that have a conceptual meaning of some sort to them- depending on how I’m feeling.”

KOS FOR SUNDAY: A Sunday lunch by The Brown Chef. Photo by Kokee
KOS FOR SUNDAY: A Sunday lunch by The Brown Chef. Photo by Kokee

Rakobela’s appreciation for art is palpable in her dishes and her photography. “I love colour and vibrance [sic], so yes, art does have a huge influence on my craft. Art is everywhere, and almost everything is art its own form. As much as an artist can show emotion in a song/painting, a chef can evoke the same feeling or tell a certain story on a plate. My most favourite part of cooking is plating-and that’s the best way to showcase food/cooking as an art form”

THE CHEF IN HER SEAT: Koketso being interviewed about her culinary skills. Photo by Rearabetswe Ntuli.
THE CHEF IN HER SEAT: Koketso being interviewed about her culinary skills. Photo by Rearabetswe Ntuli.

Italian cuisine holds a special place in her heart-any type of pasta with a lot of cheese go down very well with her. But her palate isn’t colonized by “sophisticated” foods. True to her rich melanin, she enjoys bogobe ka mašotša le morogo or simple beef stew with pap, morogo and some atchar on the side. Her cooking skills are varied as her taste.

TAKE ME HOME: A dish prepared by the Brown Chef. Photo by Kokee
TAKE ME HOME: A dish prepared by the Brown Chef. Photo by Kokee

“I’m an all-rounder in the kitchen! In culinary school, I studied both Food Prep [hot kitchen] and Patisserie. Both of them have different moods they give, but because I love the rush and work well under pressure, I’d say I’m a hot kitchen chef.”

After completing her studies in 2018 at Capsicum Culinary Studio, she was fortunate to bag an internship in the US. “I left my home country on pure intent of just going to cook and learn about everything that has to do with just cooking,” she says. While there she lived in Boston and then later went to Phoenix. “But, it turned somewhat into a personal adventure. I got to meet kind people; got to learn and experience other cultures; and I somehow got to ‘find myself.'”

HER SERVING: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Photo by Kokee
HER SERVING: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication here. Photo by Kokee

As beautiful as it’s been to see people cooking up a storm in their homes during the lockdown, it hasn’t been so nice for actual chefs who do this for a living. Like most industries, the culinary space has also been dealt a hard blow. “It’s a tough and competitive industry in itself, so to see businesses close due to the lockdown is just putting more strain on the industry. Taking into consideration, also, the fact that South Africa is still growing in the culinary industry, the lockdown has just suppressed the growth,” says Rakobela.

Bleak as these times are, The Brown Chef still has dreams of owning a boutique hotel someday. “Being able to groom and teach young and upcoming chefs the principles and lessons that I would have learned in my years of being in the industry, in my own kitchen, would be the pinnacle of my career.”


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