13/09/2018

20.09.18 – 01.01.19, Cape Town | Kewpie, Daughter of District Six

Events / By ZAM Reporter
Sofia and Kewpie at the Marie Antoinette Ball at the Ambassador Club (1967) (GALA archives, Johannesburg)  Sofia and Kewpie at the Marie Antoinette Ball at the Ambassador Club (1967) (GALA archives, Johannesburg)

With the upcoming exhibition, Kewpie’s life, a hairdresser by day and a performer drag queen by night, will be celebrated

Who was Kewpie?

The Kewpie collection, held at Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), is the personal photographic collection of Kewpie (1941-2012), whose given name was Eugene Fritz. Kewpie was part of a queer community in District Six, who at the time were known amongst themselves and by the wider community as ‘moffies’. From what we know, Kewpie’s gender identity was fluid, and she did not strictly identify as either male or female. However, both Kewpie and her friends tended to use feminine pronouns for each other. Kewpie was born in 1941, grew up in District Six and became a hairdresser, training at Salon André in Hanover Street before eventually opening her own salon, Salon Kewpie, in Kensington. By night, Kewpie was a celebrated attendee at ‘moffie’ balls, and she would often perform on stage to packed audiences at District Six’s Ambassador Club.

The photographs

The original collection is made up of around 700 photographic prints and accompanying negatives, which span the period 1950 to the early 1980s. The images show Kewpie’s extensive social life and social circle, both within District Six and further afield. There are photographs of Kewpie at work in the salon, photographs of the elaborate fancy dress balls held at the Ambassador’s Club, various portraits of Kewpie’s friends, lovers and neighbours, images from parties, snapshots taken of everyday life in the local area, and photoshoots of Kewpie’s friends on the streets of District Six.

The exhibition

The first run of the exhibition is to take place at the District Six Museum’s Homecoming Centre, opening on 20 September 2018 and running until January 2019. The Cape Town exhibition is co-curated by Jenny Marsden (GALA) and Tina Smith (District Six Museum).

Alongside the photographs are captions originally provided by Kewpie, contextual information, and extracts from oral history interviews with Kewpie and other former District Six residents, as well as the documentary A Normal Daughter: The Life and Times of Kewpie of District Six. The Cape Town exhibition also includes a display of original photographs and discusses their significance as material objects. The digitized photographs can also be used for publicity material. Additional archival research into the historical context has been carried out by Jenny Marsden.

More information here. See also invitations for opening and exhibition walkabout below this page.

Below  photos of the personal photographic collection of Kewpie (1941-2012), held at Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA). Thanks to Linda Chernis, Archivist at (GALA)

Photo: Kewpie. ‘This was June in winter time in the city. Taken by one of the movie snaps.’ June/ July 1967.
Photo: ‘Models’ Patti and Wilhelmina, Trafalgar Park. C.1971.
Photo: ‘Models’ Patti and Wilhelmina, Trafalgar Park. C.1971.
Photo: In Mrs Biggs’s yard in Kensington. ‘The gang minus one’. Mitzi, Sammy, Liz, Kewpie, Angie. The ‘minus one’ is Patti. C. mid-1970s.