On Show — Pieter-Dirk Uys & Evita Bezuidenhout  

The Property Magazine, October 2005

What does Evita want for her 70th birthday?

Well, I got a boulevard. (The Darling town council named a street in her honour.) I suppose happiness and safety for my grand kids. I'm so happy with my three black grandchildren. Someone asked the other day if I wanted a face-lift! If your face depends on it, then you must do it.

Memorable moment?

I did one thing in the evening for the coloured community in Knysna — the squatter camp is on a mountain with beautiful sea views. It's bloody Beverly Hills. Five to seven: six white people. Five past seven: 530 community people showed up because 7de Laan ends at seven o'clock. And at one minute past seven, like a Biblical image, people streamed out of their houses. And then there was uproar and everybody looked round and three six-foot, coloured drag queens in hot pants sauntered into the hall, auditioning me, checking me out. It was like Idols. It was brilliant and there they sat, the drag queens, the hairdressers from the squatter camp.

What does Pieter-Dirk want for his 60th?

I want to spend more time here. I spend so much time being everywhere else. The young kids are starting to write and you've got to be there for them to say: "Look!" And you say: "Fantastic!" Then you don't see them for two weeks. My present to myself is I've written 25 plays and I'm putting 20 on a website, free for anyone who wants to read them.

Best advice for keeping his youthful looks?

Joan Brickhill, in 1981, came to see me backstage after my Adapt or Dye — looking just gorgeous — and she picked up one of my creams.

"Oh, darling! What's that?"

"That's my make-up remover."

"Yes, I can read. That'll kill you. Use baby oil."

And I've been using Johnson's Baby Oil ever since and I don't look 60 do I? Thanks to Joan Brickhill (she doesn't look 60 either.)

What new things are you doing?

I've started gardening. God, they said it would happen one day. I love it. I'm starting to read recipes and understanding how to put things together. Next year, I'm directing a play in Xhosa. (Not one of mine.) Myself, the designers and two producers — we have about 200 years of theatre experience — will work with an assistant, a young Xhosa man or woman, and hand it over to them when it's done to take on the road.

One thing you learnt this year?

I've learnt this lovely Xhosa word: vukuzinzele. It means stand up and act.

Two-year plans?

I want to do a tour of Canada. It's basically going to be the Foreign Aids show. I've decided that if I'm going to leave the country with a piece of entertainment it's got to be more than pulling faces and making fun of politicians. I want to have a fully-fledged gym in Darling. We need a swimming pool. We need a health care centre. We need things that are not priorities when you go to ask people for money. They want to know how many dead children there are and how many dying babies. None. Thank god, we need to focus on the people who live.

Describe Darling and yourself

I'm the straatkat of Darling. But Darling just represents the community of a town in South Africa. Believe me, the talent of every community is enormous among the young people. There's a Mozart, a Michelangelo and a Miriam Makeba. But there's also a Charles Manson, and Manson always gets out first. I've seen 10-year-olds become gangsters by 12. Guns, gold teeth — the lot.

Toughest challenge?

Visiting the schools to do my Aids awareness show. It's the hardest work I've ever done in my life. Four years, one million kids and 600 schools. Before I go on I am so frightened I want to run away. I don't have the security of a theatre, the security of a theatre audience; I have no control whatsoever, meaning I have to have total control.

I've got kids there who are pissed off. What is this old fucker coming to talk to us about Aids? We're sick of it. So you've got to break down that prejudice. Within a minute, you've got to get their attention.

You've got to act your arse off, dance on a table with a bloody condom on your head, and you've got to make them laugh at death, for god's sake. You must make them realise that they don't have to die if they are in charge of their lives. And nobody is going to help them.

People you rate

The wonderful women in the clinics, the district nurses. Goddesses. Every one of them. They call me and say they've got 15 schools lined up — all in Gugulethu and Langa — but I must leave my car at the Mount Nelson and they'll come and fetch me because it's dangerous. And the Rotarians.

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from 2005