Monday, December 24, 2007
Sfiso Returns Home
Zulu Boy Returns As Drag-Queen Diva
from the SA Times
Johannesburg, South Africa
by Biénne Huisman
Published: Dec 22, 2007
Talented Sfiso is back in SA, all sass and style.
Sfiso was a starry- eyed Zulu boy from a humble township home when he left for London seven years ago.
This week he returned to South Africa as a glamorous drag queen — adorned in lipstick and long lashes.
The youngster has been recording tracks with British producers including Kwame Kwaten, who has worked with international stars like Jay Z and Mick Jagger.
Sfiso, whose name means “wish” in Zulu, has come a long way since being raised in a traditional family in the sugar-producing town of Mtubatuba, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The once bashful lad has met Madonna, now addresses people as “honey” and prefers to be referred to as a “she”.
Sfiso performed in front of thousands of revellers at British gay and lesbian events in London and Manchester earlier this year.
She also took to the stage at the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP) bash in Cape Town last night and is determined to captivate local audiences with her single Diva and a cover version of Dontcha by the Pussycat Dolls.
The Sunday Times met the doe-eyed diva at a guesthouse in Cape Town.
She spoke of mingling with the rich and famous in London, but said she regularly visited her home in South Africa.
“I was so shocked to meet Madonna! I couldn’t say much more than: ‘Hello, how do you do? Your work is great,’” she recalled. “But it was really special to meet Janet Jackson, I mean I grew up listening to her music. She liked my jacket and asked if she could have it, and I said: ‘No, not really.’”
Sfiso cared for elderly people and worked as a boutique stylist to help foot her bills abroad while working her way up in the industry.
The willowy beauty sat bolt upright during the interview, occasionally sweeping long strands of hair from her forehead with a pink-tipped finger.
“The message in Diva is to be proud of yourself. To make the most of your life, no matter what colour, race or gender you are,” she said.
“I don’t like to be categorised and think of myself as genderless. I haven’t had an operation or anything; basically I view myself as a drag artist.
“I’ve had some encounters but never a steady boyfriend... I’m open to meeting someone.”
Even as a young boy, Sfiso was flamboyant and scoffed at the unfashionable clothes sold in Mtubatuba’s stores. The youngster’s biggest wish was to bask in the glitz and glamour he associated with Europe. After matriculating at Empangeni High School in 1999, his wish came true when his mother helped him to buy a plane ticket to London.
Two days after arriving in the city he befriended Kwame and obtained a ticket to the premiere of Madonna’s film The Next Big Thing.
Kwame recalled Sfiso as a bashful youngster.
“Sfiso was different then; he was a very slight man and very unsure of who he was. But he was very kind, as she is today,” he said .
“I watched him transform into this magical person over the years in England. I then watched English audiences go crazy for her... a true success story.”
MCQP events manager, Rick Mahne, described the songbird as a “sexy, sexy little queen who sings beautifully”.
Sfiso spoke about being gay to her family for the first time while visiting last year.
“It was really tough, I cried and cried,” she recalled. “My mother was understanding, she was like: be who you are. But it was harder with my father. I left it to my mother to speak to him.”
Sfiso describes her family as grounded and loving.
But she was hesitant to elaborate on her parents and two siblings. “I would prefer to keep my family private. Please respect that. This is all new, and perhaps even a shock to them.”
She will spend Christmas at home in Mtubatuba before promoting her two singles around the country.