“As Long As It’s Legal And Doesn’t Scare The Horses…” Rian Van Heerden On Sex In Afrikaans

“I didn’t think anything could still shock or surprise me,” says Rian van Heerden, the narrator and producer of Sex in Afrikaans. “But 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 still a little conservative…”

Sex in Afrikaans is now streaming on Showmax, answering all the questions you’ve ever had about sex – and some that never crossed your mind – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The revealing Showmax Original documentary series follows clinical psychologist Bradley R Daniels as he helps four Afrikaans couples and two singles to have shameless discussions about their sex lives for the first time publicly – and, in the process, discover that there is so much more fun to be had!

With six episodes that focus on sex workers, sex toys, porn, swinging, BDSM and fetishes respectively, Sex in Afrikaans is an eye-opening tour of what your neighbours and co-workers get up to behind closed doors.

The media is already buzzing about the groundbreaking series, which carries an 18SNLV age restriction. Saturday Star calls it “jaw-dropping”, CityPress predicts it’s “set to get tongues wagging,” and IOL is labeling it “SA’s most controversial TV series to date.”

As The Citizen says, the “new Afrikaans sex show sizzles… Sex in Afrikaans serves up voyeurism on a silver platter, and it’s delicious… The show is important, not just for titillation and voyeuristic reasons but for its message that sex is OK.”

Spotlight on TimesLive added, “If you thought Devilsdorp was a lot, then Sex in Afrikaans is just as hectic… This is sure to be an absolute hit.”

We sat down with Rian to find out more:

You’re already a busy man, Rian, hosting Wie Word ‘n Miljoenêr? and The Scenic Drive on Jacaranda FM, among other things. Why did you want to make Sex in Afrikaans

I was shocked to realise that we have never had anything like this on South African TV, that focuses on sex and calls a spade a spade. Why is that?

We had Sex Etc way back, presented by Mark Pilgrim, but people handled the subject matter with kid gloves and it was in English.

So about two years ago, I had the idea of exploring the sex lives of Afrikaans people. It’s uncharted territory.

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 were considered dirty and we were not allowed to talk about it. I’ve experienced first-hand what a conservative approach to sex can do to relationships.

We try to make people think or feel differently with the television shows that we produce, and I thought that this is exactly what is needed when it comes to the subject of sex.

I didn’t think Sex in Afrikaans would actually be commissioned but one day I thought, “What the hell; let’s pitch it. What do we have to lose? People can only gain from this.”

And here we are.

How difficult was it to find people to talk openly about sex in South Africa?

It was quite a process. As you can imagine, the vast majority of people are reluctant to talk about sex. Now imagine if you have to do it on television.

And, because of people with alternative sexual needs being judged so harshly in the Afrikaans community, you can imagine how difficult it was to get Afrikaans people to openly talk about sex.

I think that every person who participated is a pioneer and is very brave indeed.

What was the hardest topic to find people to talk about?

We have an entire episode on swingers, which is a big Afrikaans thing. Swinging is a big, big thing, especially in the estates. I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of couples who swing, but that episode was our hardest one in terms of getting people to talk about it on TV.

What surprised you in making this series? Did you learn anything new?

I learned a hell of a lot. Honestly, after doing all those series of Voorblad and Skuur back in the day, I thought I had heard and seen everything but apparently not. After all these years in the industry, I learned that I can still be caught off guard.

I particularly remember the interview with “Amanda” in the first episode. She’s a sex worker who was willing to show her face and reveal exactly what the ooms ask for when they visit her. Some of the details made my jaw drop.

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.

And then there is the latex fetish, where people become human dolls. And people who dress like babies. I can go on and on…

But why was I shocked? Why have I not heard of these things before?

When you talk to these people, they are 100% normal people and they just get kicks from other things than for example you and me. And so what?

After everything you’ve seen in Sex in Afrikaans, do you think people are bored with normal sex?

I think if you come out of a background where sex is considered only acceptable when it’s done in the missionary position for 15 minutes after Noot vir Noot on a Saturday evening, you definitely suffer from boredom.

Thirty years into the marriage, how do we keep it interesting?

“I want you to dress up like Supergirl.”

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

Is this the worst thing? Would that be the end of the world? Can we at least talk about it?

Look at some of the reasons people cheat on each other. It’s often 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: I can’t talk to you about my sexual needs.

Are there moments that stand out as the most fun for you from producing the series?

We had a lot of fun. There were too many moments to mention but I must admit attending the swaaibraai was quite the experience!

Sex in Afrikaans is already being called “the most controversial series South Africa has ever seen” – before anyone has even watched it. Do you think that’s correct?

I definitely think that this is the most controversial series that has ever been produced in South Africa. Sex in Afrikaans is one for the books.

But it was high time. So yes, I’m sure there will be a backlash and there will be people who will be offended but I’m also sure that there will be many more people who will be helped by this series.

What do you hope your audience takes away from watching Sex in Afrikaans?

It is important that South Africans understand that they are not alone in their sexual wants and needs. There are others like you! And it’s okay.

As my grandmother used to say: “As long as it’s legal and it doesn’t scare the horses.”

So enjoy yourself; you are not alone in what you like.

Is there a theme that you didn’t cover, that perhaps you would have wanted to?

The world of nudism. It has grown exponentially over the last few years. Maybe if there’s a Season 2…

Last question: can you give me an alternative Afrikaans word or phrase for naai?

My favourite synonym for naai is saag, which roughly translates as ‘saw’. It’s a classic!

Binge Sex in Afrikaans now on Showmax. As Rian says, “It may just be the best thing you can do for your relationship this Valentine’s Day.”

P.S. Sex in Afrikaans is rated 18SNVL and viewer discretion is advised. Showmax subscribers with children are encouraged to use Showmax’s parental controls to set up a Kids Profile. This will make sure younger viewers are only able to stream shows and movies suitable for their age group. For extra security, enable Parental Control and set a PIN to limit access to age-restricted content.

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