Tuesday, April 28, 2009

At Ronnie's Sex Shop

Now, for those who are not familiar with this institution would frown immediately and then start wondering about the morality of yours truly. For those aware of this institution, but virtue of either visiting it on the R62 between Barrydale and Ladysmith, or reading about it in pretty much anything from Conde Nast Traveler to Getaway to Weg, you probably just smirked. Recently, on my way to a shoot for Wine in Calitzdorp (a nice 850km round-trip plus shoot in a day), I had the oppurtunity to see the place for myself.

Some short history on the weird name and what it is. It's a bar. A very normal, slightly grotty, little pub in the middle of nowhere, just plonked down. Ronnie owns this piece of soil, and decided to open "Ronnie's Shop". His mates, one night after a drunken debate, decided that Ronnie's store would need some marketing impetus, and decided to paint in "sex" on his signage on the building. Well, the skidmarks, and evidences of hasty u-turns on the 500m of tarmac either side of Ronnie's, is proof that in fact, this piece of marketing worked fantastically. Choppers touching down next to it is apparently not uncommon.

It was about 9:30 and I've been on the road more than 3 hours, so I thought stopping there for a quick coffee and ham-tomato-cheese toast would revive me. It did. The smell of Klein-Karoo vegetation, the sound of the cool breeze and surprisingly good coffee set the pace for the rest of my day. On inspecting the bar/pub-area, I met "Not-Ronnie", also known as Hugo (see pics for explanation). I went to the loo where the graffiti on the walls, I must confess, was offensive to my general morality. I really do not need to know that a underage young girl had just been with her best friend's boyfriend etc etc. Then again, the name would draw this type of thing. The rest of the little establishment is quite charming, though. There are clothes and caps everywhere, hanging from the roof, a chess-board, a tv, post-cards and business cards, graffiti and whatnot adorning every nook and cranny. What caught my attention almost immediately was an old, warn, upright piano just gathering dust in the corner. On further enquiry from "Not-Ronnie", I was invited to sit down and jam a bit, which I under false protest was happy to do.  If only I was wearing a waist-coat and a ball-hat, I might as well have been in the Wild West, playing the honky tonk. A kind Gauteng gentlemen relieved me of my camera and proceeded to take some pics of me while I played.

After playing for a short while I considered decent (your own music is much like your own body odour, if you catch my drift) and proceeded to pay for my "to-go" Coke.  A startling R10 later I enquired after Ronnie, who I was informed would be in late because he was sleeping out a hangover. Ok. Though, as I was about to leave Ronnie, an old hippie with a long braid, beard, tie-die Ronnie's T-shirt and scruffy voice entered. I asked if I could take his picture, he complied and I got my Ronnie pic. I confirmed the legend about his mate's actions resulting in what is now one of the hottest spot on the R62 and he said yes, "stranger than fiction".

"Not-Ronnie" (aka Hugo) left, Ronnie (right)

Once outside I snapped a quick couple of shots of the establishment, jumped in my new little panel-wagon (only had it 2 days) and was half-an-hour late for my next appointment. The next appointment understood the circumstance and was glad I had a chance to see this.

Ah. If you can't enjoy the journey, then I don't know what the point of traveling is.

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