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DISCO GRANNY JOBURG'S URBAN LEGEND
From: Q - 21 August 2000

She's been on TV, has her own website and now she even has her own CD.
Relive the heyday of disco with your favourite drag granny.

33 hits from Universal and SABC 3

As with all urban legends, the one of Granny Lee has many different versions. And while some versions reflect revulsion of her, most look back at this character with a fondness and humour. Almost everying that others have said she said is a humourous conglomeration of what became the ubiquitous Granny Lee. And while some of the songs are a comment on the charachter, other songs reflect a mood of the time that is irrevocably part of the past legend.

"I Feel Love" is something she could have said because she did, virtually from the grave, challenge anybody to make love to "beautiful young men" as often as she had. Granny Lee often "felt love", sometimes sexual love, but every Thursday she set aside to visit Aids patients and her love became one of true compassion, something she hid from her clubland "audience".

"I Will Survive" is a gay anthem and fits in with Granny Lee's surviving apartheid's strict gender and racial classifications. She defied apartheid's crazy and arbitrary laws by ending up being buried in a white cemetry and when the right wing failed in having her body exumed she survived apartheid even in death.

"Don't Let Me Be Understood" is a song that comments on the essence of Granny Lee, she was mostly misunderstood and actively disliked by many gays who did not understand what she was about, or why it was important for a person like her to be around: to remind us of how crazy gender and racial classifications really are.

Granny Lee was also very aware of the concept of "We Are Family" - she often cared for young runaway boys escaping their horribly straight existences and she took them in. She also cared for the working girls, and as we found out many years later, she also cared for Aids patients.

The arena in which she played out here dramas for everybody's delight (and some's disgust) was the "Boogie Wonderland" where the normal rules of a South Africa heading for a crisis were temporarily suspended. Granny Lee believed in living and living harder and faster than many young gays a third of her age was her way of "Celebration".

Hillbrow was the "Funky Town" where she lived and existed. It was a place of diversity where the first signs of the new nation was first to be seen. This diversity that characterised Hillbrow included queer visibility, often in the form of Granny Lee "arriving".

The CD also includes, amonst others, "I Love The Nightlife," "Heart of Glass," "Don't Leave Me This Way," "Hot Stuff," and "Le Freak."

Granny Lee's Disco Hits of the 70s & 80s includes a brief description of the documentary on her life entitled Metamorphisis including a picture of her. Somebody at the SABC definitely has a sense of humour!

Ruth Barter plays Granny Lee

© Underdog Entertainment 2000