The email was intriguing. A long lost cousin from Johannesburg, of whom I had never heard before, was making contract with family around the world. She sent pictures and gave names and ages and news. Two siblings were still in South Africa. She had moved to Miami. Another brother, Saville had recently arrived in Israel. Those of us living here might have seen his picture plastered on malls or by the side of busy highways – modeling the latest designs of Versace, sporting Fix underwear or Prince sun-glasses, or walking the runway for Castro and Lee Cooper. I arranged to meet him on the beach for lunch.
"What are you wearing?" I asked, as we made cell-phone contact on the way.
"A white T-shirt, Diesel jeans and a Dolce & Gabbana belt," said Saville.
A tall, nice-enough looking could-be-a-model type entered the restaurant. I accosted him.
"Show me your belt!" I said. The man looked at me as if I were deranged, "Mah?"
Then Saville walked in, and I realized that the first chap didn't look anything like a model. I opened my mouth to say hello, but two blonde, bikinied young things got in first, materializing out of nowhere. They draped themselves around his neck and hung there for a while, before slinking away onto the sand. "Two of my bartenders," he explained. Apart from modeling, it transpired, Saville also manages the bar a two trendy nightclubs in Tel Aviv. And, oh, he has also won world karate championship titles. Nine times.
The multi-talented twenty-two year old was educated at King David High School in Johannesburg for most of his school life. Soon after finishing school his classic good looks were discovered by Donatella Versace's personal assistant in a Cape Town club. "This man approached me, introduced himself, and asked me to go with him to Milan the next day to model for him. I consulted with my dad and decided to do it."
Saville's father, Malcolm Dorfman, a karate world champion in his own right and chief instructor of Karatenomichi World Federation, South Africa, had been training his son for many years. Shane Dorfman, Saville's brother, is also a karate world champion. In the 2000 KWF competition all three Dorfmans excelled: Saville taking the junior world title, Shane the senior title, and Malcolm becoming the only non-Japanese in the world to attain the rank of 8th Dan. Modeling and fighting don't mix, however, a battered, bruised idol is not the image favored by any high end fashion company. Saville had to sign a commitment not to fight for the duration of his contract. "But that was okay with me," Saville adds. "After training for at least three hours a day since the age of five, I was ready for a break from Karate for a short while."
After a spell of working the catwalk in Milan and New York, Saville returned to South Africa, relaxing for a spell in Cape Town. He then based himself in New York, where his beautiful mother, Janis, joined him so she could live close to her beloved son. Tragically, she died suddenly from cancer at the age of 52, within three months of finding out that she was sick. Saville, who had helped to care for her intensively, needed a time-out from a world where he was mixing with the likes of Paris-Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and other A-list celebrities. He returned to South Africa. But, despite the beauty, the country of his birth now left him feeling empty. "Then I met an Israeli girl, Tal Goren, who is a director of a company in Tel Aviv. Her mom had been the spokesperson for Yizhak Rabin and Shimon Peres," he explains. "She suggested I go on holiday to Israel." He arrived for what he thought would be a short trip. "That was ten months ago," he says. "I just felt at home here immediately, and I've started the process of making aliya."
Saville plans to base himself in Israel, a country which he has come to love, and from where he can fly all over the world to model. He hopes to go back to karate, and, like his father and brother before him, win the gold medal in the next Maccabi games. Dolce & Gabbana belts or black belts… Saville is equally comfortable wearing both.