CITY LIFE NEWS
Dec 22nd 2009, 00:02
published on 22.12.2009
They’re alive and clicking – Cape Town’s cyber-tribes – online communities bonded by shared interests and values. At the forefront of this trend is 2oceansvibe.com, one of Cape Town’s most popular websites. 021 slung on some high heels and went to explore a world where the Veuve Clicquot is always on ice and the vibe is all that matters. One simple word – vibe – defines the 2oceansvibe tribe. According to their ethos, everything – people, parties, brands – has a vibe, and the author of the website, self-styled, commitment phobic playboy Seth Rotherham, has made it his vocation to declare who, what, and where has the right vibe i.e. the vibe he likes.
His readers and fans are not complex people. They want the good life – the babes, the cars, the cocktails. But most of all, they want an intangible, indefinable something, namely the vibe. 2oceansvibe people are fresh, young things, upwardly mobile and socially gifted, or affluent over-30-year-olds, compensating for youth with good dental work and a sense of style. 2oceansvibe proclaims: “Work is a sideline. Live the holiday.” If you edge towards angst, and prefer gazing at your navel than your reflection in the mirror, you’re not likely to get the vibe. If you are plagued by a Protestant work ethic, or prefer the security of 9–5 to the freedom of freelancing, you’re not part of the vibe. If you object to women going topless, are weighed down by social concerns, or generally approach life with a furrowed brow, you don’t belong in this group. The pages of 2oceansvibe.com are visited more than 50 000 times per month. The South African blog awards gave 2oceansvibe the following accolades: Best Overall Blog; Best Entertainment Blog; Most Humorous Blog; Best Post; Best Original Writing; Most Controversial Blog. Fans and readers love the intoxicated flow of consciousness commentary penned by Seth.
Like every tribe, it has its sub-cultures. Hanging out in the base chakra are the okes, generally thick necked and beer drinking who just want to ogle the topless girls in provocative poses, who decorate the site. Part of Seth’s job description is the daunting task of selecting compromising pictures of naked celebrities to post on his site. Mention Seth’s name to some and you will get the response ‘sexist pig’. Among others, there’s the perception that 2oceansvibe is some kind of privileged boys-only club. One crestfallen girl said, “I’d love to be part of the tribe, but it’s more of a guy thing.” Then there are the material boys and girls who look like they’ve stepped out of a Peter Stuyvesant ad. With the stealth of his Audi R8 taking Hospital Bend, Seth steers his readers towards the brands and venues they want to been seen wearing or frequenting. It’s an Audi-driving, Vanity Fair-reading, Pumawearing, De Grendel wine-sipping, Apple computer-using, steak at HQ-eating tribe of people – although not, we hope, all at the same time. But uniting all of these somewhat disparate strands is a universal dedication to the vibe. These are Cape Town’s highclass, well-heeled hedonists who pride themselves on knowing where and how to have a good time. They live for the moment, don’t take life too seriously, and can party like there’s no tomorrow. Fuelled by copious quantities of Double Olmeca Black tequila and Pussy energy drink mix, these are the people who will, at some stage of inebriation, dance on the bar, or reveal their mammary glands in public. A cyber-tribe is invisible, but this one regularly materializes for the Sunday night shakedown at Caprice. While the rest of the world is winding down, preparing for the week ahead, they flaunt their freedom, draining the last drop of fun from the weekend. Going against the grain like this spoke to Seth’s soul. It was here, in 2002, that the concept of 2oceansvibe was born. Seth reveals: “We were having so much fun, I wanted to share the vibe with others.”I ventured forth on a night when a gale-force wind was making the palm trees shake like go-go dancers on amphetamines. But a strong breeze is no match for the will to party.
The Camps Bay strip seemed deserted, until Caprice came into view. The music pulsed, the place throbbed. Outside, a queue of girls halfheartedly tried to stop their minidresses blowing up around their ears. Inside, through the haze of hormones, bodies seemed magnetised, drawn to rub against each other. The girls shun fabric, the hem and bust lines of their dresses straining to meet. Their hair is styled and blow-dried and they don’t have the panda look of smudged mascara. These are well-groomed party animals. The boys are preppie, young Rupert Everetts taking a break from their private school, or blonde Adonis surfer types, without the hassle of the board, which doesn’t fit so well on the roof of a Porsche anyway. And what have these youngsters got to look forward to in life? A bunch of older alpha males in the corner prove that as long as they have the moola, they can still command the girls. Making mild fools of themselves, they stand on chairs, waving their arms about, and pouring vividly coloured drinks down doe-like girls’ throats. The first person I approach is dark and elfin, eyes sparkling with intelligence. I ask her if she’s heard of 2oceansvibe. “Yeah, of course,” she replies, looking at me askance as though I’d asked her if she was familiar with Table Mountain. So, what’s it about, I enquire. “It’s about the soul of Cape Town. Taking it easy; not having to work too hard. It’s about being free.”Accompanied by the sound of U2’s “In the Name of Love”, I approach a 20-something blonde. In response to my question, she stares at me blankly. Then suddenly, as though the synapses connect, she gushes: “Oh the 2oceansvibe. It’s a lot about Seth. He knows all the cool places. I’m obsessed with him. He’s amazing. He’s the FHM of the internet. I love his writing.” Seth Rotherham, 2oceansvibe chief, has that invisible magical elixir – influence. Seth has cleverly made a career out of the most surreptitious and deadly form of advertising – word of mouth. He calls himself “a one-man crusade for quality.” It’s all about trust. Readers trust his opinion. He promises that the brands that he espouses are the best and that he personally will sort out any complaints, should they arise, about brands featured on his site. “I don’t think I’ve ever let readers down. It’s a great system,” he claims. Calling Seth a blogger sounds a bit blunt. He’s more a dizzyingly successful marketing maverick, who from the vantage point of a self-created public platform quite simply wins friends and influences people. He has a touch of genius. And hootzpah. When God was handing out the ability to schmooze, jockey for position and name-drop, Seth was right up there, demanding a double helping.
Every day is like Christmas in Seth’s world: Audi gave him an R8 supercar and an Audi TT, with an advanced drivers course thrown in for good measure. But it’s not only Gucci and Apple that he trades favours with. There’s also a weekly case of Jack Black beer delivered to his doorstep. Seth’s brands range from high- to lowbrow and he has a unique talent – the ability to sing the praises of Butler’s pizza and Ferrari cars in the same breath, with a straight face. I first met Seth at Caprice, when he pulled up in a red Ferrari, accompanied by an angel teetering alongside him on dangerously high heels. Now I’m invited to join him at his new residence, The Royale in Green Point. On arrival at the five-star hotel, the head concierge accompanies me to Seth’s room. In the elevator, hands behind back, staring straight ahead, he whispers conspiratorially: “Seth’s very lucky to live here.” (Why is it that butlers and concierges always speak while looking straight ahead?) “He actually lives here?” I ask, incredulous. I’d assumed that Seth was joking when he’d referred to the hotel as his home. “He’s very well connected,” explains the concierge. Indeed, who else in Cape Town is given a room in a five-star hotel just on the off-chance that they will invite friends over? But then again, Seth’s friends include the likes of John Smit (who rephrased Seth’s tag line into “Work’s a try line. Convert the holiday”). Seth has made a career out of being in the right place at the right time, and with this hotel room, offering an unsurpassed view of the World Cup stadium, he’s hit the jackpot. The stadium lights are being switched on for the first time this evening and, from his balcony, Seth will enjoy a privileged view of the historical occasion. He knows he’s lucky and loves it. Like a cat that licked the last drop of the proverbial cream, Seth unashamedly basks in his good fortune, which he attributes to the right upbringing, good karma and energy. From this serene setting, Seth announces: “I have grown.” In fact, the Seth sitting opposite, while still sporting boyish charm and quirky Sean Penn good looks, has changed. Gone is the champers at lunch. Now I’m offered sparkling water. Gone too is the endearing stutter. Seth’s speech has slowed down, his eyes dart around less, and his intellect appears more finely honed. He’s less manic. More laid-back. And sharper. So much so that I have to wonder if Seth is in danger of settling down. He denies it vehemently: “It’s not like Seth’s turned homemaker,” he protests, pointing out that he’s not adverse to a Monday morning shot of Tequila, or a midday toke on a joint – just because he can. Seth’s favourite preoccupation is still beautiful women. “I platz women. I wanted to be a woman’s bra when I grew up. I find women beautiful. All women,” he insists (despite the fact that the women on his website look like they’ve either stepped from between the covers of a magazine, or slid off a pole). “I’m not a blonde or a brunette guy. I go mad for all different looks. I could never choose between any of the models: Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell all have an equal amount of appeal.”
Today’s clean-cut Seth might just be a temporary aberration due to the fact that he’s currently in training for a naked shoot in Marie Claire. Now it’s Seth’s turn to be a sex object. A role that he’s happy to play. “I’ve got quite a nice bum. Would you like to see?” he asks. Who could resist? Breaking my rule of no nudity before lunch, I agree. Seth whips out his computer and shows me pictures of his bottom poking out of a shower. Then suddenly, weirdly, the scene shifts and I’m being made privy to photos from his childhood. There’s Seth in a ninja suit! And tellingly, Seth on holiday with his mother: his first muse, a glamorous blonde, an Erica Jong lookalike. Suntanned, she wields a champagne glass, hinting of things to come. In another, Seth sits stranded amid an ocean of gifts. As a privileged only child, Seth was destined to be the kid who gets the best toys. Seth confesses: “I learned tricks of my trade from my upbringing. I’m all about giving a good impression and winning people over. I want to make sure that in a group of people, if someone says something bad about me there will always be others that will shout him down.”A few minutes into our interview, the phone rings. It’s the radio station MFM on the line and I get the chance to eavesdrop on Seth in action. Robbie Wessels (creator of the SA hit “Die Leeuloop”) is in the studio. “Robbie, hoe gaan dit? How do you sing I’m never going to dance? Next time you’re in Foster, I’ve got family there – make sure you look them up.” The Seth formula is: make an immediate connection, add a dash of humour, and a hint of smut. “Do you think Marge (of the Simpsons) is blue down there?” It’s vintage Seth – all sleaze and silliness.
So with a new five-star residence in Green Point, has the playboy of the Atlantic Seaboard turned his back on Camps Bay? “Not at all,” Seth insists. “Camps Bay’s got everything: sex, money, fast cars, beaches, sunsets. I am Camps Bay.”