The country’s most famous drag diva, Manila Von Teez, has shocked fans by revealing on social media that she is suffering from depression and is abusing drugs to help her cope.
Manila admitted on Facebook that she depends on dagga en dop to get her through the day after two people close to her died.
Manila, whose real name is Veon Wentzel, 31, is an Elsies River based entertainer and fashion designer.
The drag artist and lip sync diva found national fame when she made it to the finals of SA’s Got Talent in 2016.
Since Veon’s shocking post on Facebook on New Year’s Day, his fans have been coming out in support.
Meanwhile, he has taken to making transformation videos – pre- and post-make up and wardrobe – as an alternate outlet for his feelings of depression during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Substance abuse has been a part of my life for a while but it spiralled out of control and I had no more grip on reality,” Veon wrote.
“Then my own brother-in-law passed away. He was probably the person I took as a father figure. It hurts, it still does, and I just kept numbing it out with substances.
“I had so much anger inside! I kept questioning why and why keeps replaying in my head, and then Gabbie left us. I was lost.”
Gabbie was a drag queen and chef Gabriella Sofia Garcia who died of Covid on 2 December.
“I felt like I had no friends and financially I couldn't and still can't cope. I lost my reality, lost my happiness in myself.”
Veon tells the Daily Voice: “I would be high every second of the day and then start drinking. As soon as reality would seep in, I would block it out with another joint.”
He says the help and support of family and the LGBTQI community has restored his spirits.
Facebook follower Idriez Rinquest wrote: “The Almighty had to make you grow stronger within yourself by placing these calamities in your life so that you could learn your life's lessons quicker.”
Leagan Phillips-Laws said: “This is incredibly brave and I'm crying because this is where I am right now too. I wish you immeasurable kindness, love and strength. Take care of yourself.”
Veon has since fallen back on his first love, fashion and drag.
He is now trying new methods for self-healing, including making kwaai transformation videos, and showing fans how he goes from Veon to Manila.
View the transformation videos on the Facebook page, Veon Wentzel.