Travel

The Hopes and Dreams of Cape Town's Trans Sex Workers

These photos are an ongoing collaboration between two Dutch artists and members of Sistaazhood, a group of trans sex workers affiliated with the Cape Town advocacy group SWEAT.

by Jan Hoek and Duran Lantink
Mar 25 2016, 12:00am

CLEOPATRA, 23: "I want to become the new Cleopatra, a female ruler of an African country."

Recorded audio from Jan Hoek and Duran Lantink's interviews with Sistaazhood about their dreams. Soundscape by Torus.

This article appeared in the March issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

Creative Assistant: Angelo Antonio Valerio
Photography Assistant: Dylan Louw
Courtesy: Ron Mandos Gallery, Amsterdam

These photos are an ongoing collaboration between two Dutch artists—28-year-old fashion designer Duran Lantink and 31-year-old photographer Jan Hoek—and members of Sistaazhood, a group of trans sex workers affiliated with the Cape Town advocacy group SWEAT.

The project started when Hoek and Lantink saw a picture of two trans sex workers in Cape Town and were so taken by their appearance and attitude that they booked a ticket to South Africa immediately. It then evolved into an expanded series where they interviewed the workers about their dreams. Hoek, Lantink, and the women worked together on outfits and sets to bring their dreams to life.

"We were really excited to showcase the creative ability of all the girls we worked with and give them a different story that focuses on their fashion rather than their hardship," Hoek said. "The pictures weren't really about sex work. There's so much more to their lives."

The next leg of the project will be a fashion show with the girls that will take place in Cape Town in 2017.

FLAVINA, 22: “I want to become an African supermodel. I want to be different, so that people can see I am trans and a supermodel, so that I can be an example for others.”

GABBY, 29: “My dream would be to have a luxurious Victorian-designed brothel for street workers and sex workers from agencies called the Lady Marmalade, where they can fulfill their own dreams. I hope that one day they can look back and say ‘That’s were I found my dream.’ Nobody did that for me. I did that for somebody.”

SULAIGA, 30: “I want to sell drugs and make a lot of money. I want to sell cocaine, crystal meth, and heroin. I want to have big cars, live in Las Vegas, and hang out with the mafia and be happy.”

COCO, 25: “I want to go to New York and be the flames of the torch of the Statue of Liberty. I want to see countries all over the world and be the whole universe.”

JOAN, 57: “My dream was always to marry and wear a really big, beautiful white wedding dress. I don’t think that will ever happen, so this project will be the last chance for me to still wear one.”

COCO, 25: “The egg is the symbol of the rebirth I had when I came out the closet as trans.”