Glorified Fantasies and Masterpieces of Deception: Importing Las Vegas into the New South Africa


With the end of apartheid, Johannesburg and other South African cities are now part of a new global race to ascend and to become ‘world-class’ tourist and business centers. At the center of this development is the importation of Vegas-style spectacle by local entrepreneurs, firms, and other city boosters who create fantasyscapes such as the Emperor’s Palace and GrandWest. Financed and run by South African impresarios – whose luxurious empires transcend the continent – these resorts represent not only the globalization of gaming but the way in which South African cities see themselves within the world-wide urban hierarchy. As such, this paper seeks to untangle the global and local aspects of importing fantasy into the ‘New South Africa’.

(2014) w/ Martin J. Murray. “Glorified Fantasies and Masterpieces of Deception: Importing Las Vegas into the New South Africa.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Vol. 38. No 3. pp. 843-863 DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.12006

Cinema and The Edgy City: Johannesburg, Carjacking, And The Postmetropolis

Oliver Schmitz’s Hijack Stories (2000) is a story of cross-over cultures and mixed genres set in Johannesburg. In this blurring of boundaries, he presents us an interplay between the dangerous city of both fact and fiction. Schmitz’s cinematic depiction of the city, weaves in and out, as well as to and from yuppie neighbourhoods and Soweto. Thus, we see how post-apartheid Johannesburg is a place of hybrid identities not only in the different spaces of the city, but through the influence of global hip-hop cultures, as well as the real and imagined perceptions of the city’s ‘citizens’. This paper examines the way in which Schmitz’s film intersects these relationships in this edgy city.