Sodela’s path to spiritual wellness
Former exotic dancer transitions into healing
The visibility of African spiritual practices has undoubtedly increased on mainstream media in the last five years or so.
Storylines are being adapted to existing shows that speak to spirituality; reality TV shows that showcase or are centred on individuals’ spiritual practices; and live radio segments focused on specific spiritual matters.
Social media’s role also cannot be underestimated considering that there is content constantly uploaded offering a behind-the-scenes view — sometimes in real time. For example, I have seen oGobela (shamans) recording live content of their initiates performing daily rituals. Some rituals that I consider sacred, like going into trances, are inappropriate to share with audiences.
I try to remain respectful towards what other healers feel is safe for their spiritual children, regardless of my trepidations regarding safety and respect for sacredness.
I have thoroughly appreciated authentic displays of spiritual pursuit especially on reality TV. I enjoy when people show how spirituality and God have existed in their lives in non-performative or overtly exhibitionist ways.
I recently had a discussion with a person I consider of this calibre — reality TV star Noluvuyo “Bubbly” Sodela. Born in Gqeberha, Sodela is a former exotic dancer/adult entertainer who has journeyed into wellness through her interactions with patrons and clients.
Speaking with me on Gogo have I been scammed, Sodela struck me as an intuitive person who makes decisions based on gut feeling. I respect and identify with that prowess.
I was most interested in how Sodela consolidated coming from a spiritual home with her former work in the adult entertainment industry.
Sodela responded: “I am someone who has lived unapologetically, and I have self-acceptance. So, I think yes, acceptance ... and I mean I posed naked against xenophobia in 2012 ... It is just that people didn’t care [or understand]. Our bodies are a form of art and I accept myself for who I am.”
Sodela was 19 at the time.
“An underrated social activist queen,” I thought, instantly remembering the time we used our bodies for activism against sexual violence and rape culture at what we then referred to as “the University that is currently known as Rhodes”. As a younger activist, I remember thinking that my body was the best instrument for activism, much like Sodela, and so I joined bare-breasted in protest, circa 2016.
I think the movement was largely misunderstood (due to the nakedness) but the outcry and outrage were necessary.
My interest extended to Sodela’s family’s reception and opinions of her former work, to which she said: “I showed my mom a clip of girls in thongs, and I told her I am not a waitress, this is what I do.” She affirmed her family’s unconditional love and support for her regardless of her profession because at the end of the day, “it put food on the table and gave me financial freedom”.
Sodela contextualised her stint in adult entertainment as what set her onto the trajectory of wellness, ultimately transitioning out of her previous industry and retiring permanently. She recalls interactions with clients that made her see herself as one who lends a compassionate ear to those dealing with unimaginable pressure and stress.
Beginning her career as an exotic dancer at the age of 23 in 2016, Sodela understands the industry as more than just “naked girls everywhere”.
“Yes, people like looking at beautiful girls... but sometimes you talk to someone who was thinking of suicide, and you know they change because they talked to you.”
It wasn’t until 2020 during the pandemic that she was sort of forced to focus on wellness due to restricted movement. She started offering massages because she could no longer perform live. Sodela then discovered she enjoyed interacting with clients on this level because she had long suspected healing was something she would ultimately venture into.
Sodela continues to pursue entrepreneurship as an aesthetician and advocate of wellness.
She doesn’t foresee a return to adult entertainment because that would be somewhat of a regression in her spiritual growth. This was because of the fast lifestyle and exposure to alcohol and drugs. “Some girls don’t drink or take drugs but some clients want you to drink and take drugs with them or they don’t pay.”
Sodela shared more in the episode titled Intersections of adult entertainment and spirituality, which is available on the Sowetan’s website under podcasts or on major streaming platforms.
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