All about the horizontal mambo: Rian van Heerden on Sex in Afrikaans

14 February 2022

All about the horizontal mambo: Rian van Heerden on Sex in Afrikaans

Rian van Heerden hardly needs any introduction. He’s the presenter of the new Afrikaans version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? (Wie Word ‘n Miljoenêr?), and he presents The Scenic Drive with Rian on weekdays on Jacaranda FM, helping thousands of South Africans get home safely after work with smiles on their faces. But are some of those smiles soon to be turned upside down by Rian’s latest TV show, the six-part docuseries Sex in Afrikaans?     

In what is surely a first for South African television, Sex in Afrikaans frankly and openly deals with topics that often touch the fringes of what is often perceived as “too far, thank you!” 

Naturally, our curiosity got the better of us and we had to ask him a few questions …

When you talk to these people, they are 100% normal and they just get kicks from different things. And so what? Why is this an issue?

Rian van Heerden

What can viewers expect from Sex in Afrikaans? 

I wish we could have covered everything around sex! It is a very wide topic, so we try to cover themes that are almost a bit more controversial. In our first episode, we touched on prostitution, which of course is a much wider field than one would think. We also look at sex toys and there is an episode on porn which is of course a big thing, especially in relationships. Can you still watch porn? Is this acceptable? We also bring two South African former porn stars back together for one last show.

Then we have an entire episode on swingers which is a big Afrikaans thing! You would think that something like prostitution might be more common among Afrikaners, but no! Swinging is a big, big thing, especially in the estates. That episode was our hardest one in terms of getting people to talk about it. I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of couples who swing and the number of them willing to talk about it, was the minimum.

We also did an episode on BDSM – it has so many more aspects than you could imagine. We even went to the fringes of BDSM, such as fisting. There is also an episode on fetishes – people who dress like babies and so on.

Were you shocked by anything you learned while filming?

I can tell you, while we were filming this series we could hardly believe what we were hearing! I honestly didn’t think I was conservative and then I realised that I was actually a little conservative. I didn’t think that some stuff could still shock or surprise me, but Jeremiah! The older people have a saying: “as long as it does not scare the horses”, then that’s fine.  

The taboos around sex generally go hand-in-hand with religion. Without religious taboos, what might South Africa look like today?

Look, my personal opinion on this is that I feel incredibly sorry for previous generations who were forced to do the missionary position at no other time than when you just got married. Then you find out you’re not sexually compatible – then what? 

People need to realise that sex is a 100% natural urge and that people had to do all sorts of things in the shadows. It comes back to that Calvinistic education that Afrikaners often had. So how is it then that people want to swing around on hooks from the rafters? Where does this stem from now? What is the main cause of it? 

It brings me back to why I was shocked – why have I not heard of these things before? When you talk to these people they are 100% normal and they just get kicks from different things than for example you and me. And so what? Why is this an issue? Why should this be a problem?     

What do you think the reaction is going to be to the series?

There will not be a few complaints, but an avalanche of complaints. However, from past experience I can tell you that people are not as conservative as we might think. But here’s the thing: the moment that they are aware there is something they can complain about, they will definitely complain about it.

What do you intend to achieve with Sex in Afrikaans?

I was shocked to realise that we have never had anything like this on South African TV. Why is that? We had Sex Et Cetera way back, presented by Mark Pilgrim, but people handled the subject matter with kid gloves and it was also in English. Why have we never talked about these things in Afrikaans? For me, this is a massive problem. 

I look at my own life and how conservative I grew up and I feel deprived of so much pleasure because these topics are considered dirty and we are not allowed to talk about it. Look at the reasons why people cheat on each other. It’s very simple – I have certain needs and certain things I would like to do. Certain things provide me with pleasure but I can’t tell you because I do not know how you are going to react to it. I can’t talk to you about my sexual needs because we are these well-educated people who can’t talk about such things.

“I want you to dress up like Supergirl. Would that be the end of the world?”

“I think you and I should speak to the neighbors. Maybe they would like to join us for more than just a braai on Saturday night?”

Is this the worst thing? Can we at least talk about it? Thirty years into the marriage, how do I make it interesting and how do we keep it interesting? What can you and I do to spice it up a little bit or is this just what we’re going to do – missionary position on Saturday nights after Noot Vir Noot for 15 minutes? Is this our life now?

Someone was brave enough to create this show to see what happens. That there are sleepless nights? That’s a given!

Last one – give me another slang word or term for the Afrikaans word “naai”? 

My favourite one is still “Doing the horizontal mambo”.

Step into the world of Empini, now streaming
Ultimate Girls Trip SA: What happens in Jamaica?