21.04.2015

The Lost Girls Club

This newly renovated Vredehoek Victorian boasts its own hashtag!

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs: Nick Gordon

The intercom’s buzz is answered in Ebonics – “Who dere? Who dat?” – after which the front gate is opened and we’re greeted in perfect Engrish – “Hurro!” – as the trio harmonises from the stoep. 

The home dwellers comprise 27-year old Caroline Mackintosh, 25-year old Xia Carstens and 23-year old Sanelle Vosloo, who live together in a house that is as bright, airy and original as they are.

It’s like Three’s Company up in here, if you can imagine the lecherous Jack Tripper replaced by a cute girl with pink hair and none of Mr. Roper’s nosey parking. Still, hijinks ensue.

Dressed in outfits that hark back to the 70s, all flowing kimonos, florals and prints, the girls walk us through their home. Acid Mothers Temple fills the first section of the house, which changes to a different psychedelic soundtrack, and then another, as we walk further down the glossy Oregon pine passage and into the sunroom at the back of the house.

Like the clamour of sound that fills #102Mill the décor, which is definitely not minimal, is an assault on the senses. Taking everything in is like trying to sip from a waterfall.

Succulents, cacti and creepers bring the outdoors in; otherwise there are lots of primary colours, lots of art and lots of pets. The girls say that they are usually naked, but today the only exposed nipples are the vintage brass light switches and the framed water nymphs on the walls.

“Oh yes, we walk around naked all the time,” says Sanelle, who has no problem doing her morning ablutions while the others are in the same bathroom, brushing their teeth. “We’re totally desensitised with boundaries and stuff.” 

“We do everything together,” adds Xia. “We take baths together, share beds... Everything has just fallen into place really quickly. We never fight or have arguments. Everything just works.” 

Caroline likens the household to a cult or a sisterhood. “We’re The Lost Girls Club and have become very much homebodies since we moved in here. Every time someone asks us out there’s this hour long debate on whether or not we should go and then we usually just end up drinking wine at home.” 

When the girls do leave their comfort zone it’s usually at Caroline’s insistence. She'll load up the other two, their pets, and their gear, and whoever else is visiting, into her yellow Land Rover Defender named Bumblebee and then drive up the West Coast. Here they’ll spend time hiking, swimming, picnicking, exploring and shooting NSFW photographs .

The Lost Girls complement one another fantastically, and they all got rid of their TVs when they moved in here together so that they could collaborate and create even more.

The home studio is stark when compared to the lounge - which is all tattered couches ruined by destructive pets and a triangle bookshelf filled with esoteric books, crystals and succulents - and is easily the most orderly room in the house. It’s here you find the various backdrops, reflection boards, lights, tripods and other things that are required for photography (Caroline recently shot the Young and Lazy lookbook here), along with a massive light box, a heavy stylist’s rail and a desk with an iMac on top of it. If The Lost Girls are a cult then this is where the magic happens.

“TV is done,” says Sanelle, with Caroline adding, “Everyone watches things on their laptops anyway. We’d rather draw or paint, have macramé sessions... I don’t think I’ve ever been as inspired.”

The neighbours are getting in on it, too. The girls will all file out into the house next door, which has a cave filled with musical equipment that they regularly jam on.

Funny story: they got speaking to a different neighbour just the other day, who was saying how initially he’d been keen to buy the deceased estate and was curious to see how they’d renovated it. 

“You can just search our hashtag!” replied Caroline.   

Yep, one day when they’re old and boring and supporting ungrateful brats who have sucked the youth out of their once firm breasts, they can then search that old hashtag and remember all the good times that they shared here when they were young, hip and free.

Although this could be completely wrong and they might just end up marrying one other and living here forever with a menagerie of pets and potted jungle and growing even more eccentric with age.

Is it a good idea for a house of young girls to be posting pics of themselves in various states of undress and frolicking in unmade beds and overflowing baths with a hashtag that’s also their address? That’s where Ozzie comes in – their adolescent German Shepard who’ll soon grow up to be the man of the house. Yep, enter at your own risk.

Otherwise there are two cats chasing the sun from room to room, plans for a second dog and visitors almost always bringing their own pets when they pop in to what is fast becoming a sort of halfway house.

“There’s this kind of open-door policy,” says Caroline. “Where people are always stopping by. Even if we’re busy working in the studio they’ll just kind of hang out while we work or whatever.”

For the shoot we’d bought breakfast ingredients, in the hopes of photographing the girls cooking together, but the closest they get to the kitchen is sprawling across the uniquely tiled floor after working up a sweat dancing in the sunroom.

The sunroom is the heart of the home. Concertina doors stack up and light pours in, the psychedelic mountainscape – from Caroline’s mirror project – taking whoever sits here to a place far more exciting than Vredehoek.  

This room is Caroline’s handiwork. Robin Sprong turned one of her prints into wallpaper, she decided on the blue stucco floor, painted the arch red, made the macramé hanging in the corner, had the lounge suite reupholstered and then placed one of Sanelle’s cacti in front of the wall to create what’s almost like a 3D installation piece.

“I don’t think I even have a style,” says Sanelle, who is busy pulling on a pair of tasseled boots while sitting on her bed. “I just push things together and hope that they work. Most ideas come when we’re very stoned, so the house has taken on a bit of a weird shape.”

The result is that instead of those painfully curated homes that have all the character of a hotel suite in a Top Billing insert, this is a very livable and real space that grows curiouser and curiouser the further you explore.

The girls searched the vintage store strip between Muizenberg and Woodstock, scoured the Milnerton Market and then relied heavily on the work Caroline didn’t sell at her last exhibition – naked water nymphs and mirrors placed in desolate landscapes. Add Sanelle’s collection of pot plants, which are many, plus the stuff Xia’s been trekking with her ever since she left Pretoria with her two heavily sedated cats, and you have a home that’s as rich as the characters whom inhabit it.

The girls will start working on the garden next, having already pulled up the paving and planter boxes and laid down grass for Ozzy.

“Our friend Dennis was visiting us from Amsterdam and he gave us a lemon tree,” says Sanelle, who is obsessed with plants. “It’s bad luck to buy your own lemon tree, you know.”

As much as she loves plants, the too-inked-to-be-hippy, too-flowered-to-be-punk’s passion is clothing, and before she starts her own label she’s earning her crust by working as a stylist, a vocation that her housemates contribute to, too.

 “I don’t even know which clothes are mine anymore,” laughs Sanelle. “It’s like having two sisters whose eclectic closets I can raid whenever I want to. We share everything.”

Xia is a bit bummed at having to work a 9-5 while the other two girls live the charmed Capetonian freelance life. They empathize with Xia by waking up when she does and then rounding up the pets and cuddling together in bed for a few cigarettes before she has to leave for work.

And right now, she has to get back to work.

Which means that we need to get going too. Last question: how does one go about applying to be the fourth Lost Girl?