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Vermaak | Entertainment > Teater | Theatre > Onderhoude | Interviews

Bruce J Little on The Fat, The Femme and the Fabulous

Steyn du Toit - 2011-07-05

Untitled Document

Bruce J Little, Catherine Hopkins and Neels Clasen

The Little Poof! team is back with another “Homofabulous Gaybaret!” at the Joburg Theatre – The Fat, the Femme and the Fabulous. Written by and starring Bruce J Little, directed by Neels Clasen and musically directed and accompanied on piano by Cathrine Hopkins, this little show is a cross-section of South African queer culture’s most celebrated characters. It’s a singing and speaking rainbow flag with a face! Steyn du Toit spoke to Bruce J Little about all these terms and what they mean.

Who/What is the Little Poof! team and why that particular name?

The Little Poof! team consists of Bruce J Little, writer and performer, Neels Clasen, who directs, and Cathrine Hopkins, who is the musical director and accompanies Bruce on the piano during the show.

The name Little Poof! comes from my surname and the word "Poof", a term for homosexuals, but a word that can also be found accompanying any good magic trick or disappearing act.

Your latest production, The Fat, the Femme and the Fabulous, opens soon. It is described as "a cross-section of South African queer culture’s most celebrated characters". In a nutshell, what does this mean?

Queer culture has always had celebrated “characters” that have been recognised and embraced in the communities in which they live. The material showcases the "moffie", the cross-dressing hairdresser and the reluctant "fag hag" (traditionally a fun-loving, heterosexual woman or girl with a big personality, who prefers the company of gay men), and also an effeminate gay man with an obsession for beauty pageants, to name a few of these characters.

How does one find a balance between highlighting and celebrating the funny parts of a certain subculture as opposed to simply making fun of it?

You can only really poke fun at something when you are educated about it and also very fond of it. I feel comfortable satirising the gay community because I do it from a place of empathy and love. When I make fun of these characters I am making fun of myself, so I do exercise great caution.

Who are some of these celebrated characters that we'll get to meet in this production and how did you put all of them together?

Mariska the reluctant fag hag is one of my most popular characters. She is a hybrid of several of my closest “girl friends” over the years. I use her as a mouthpiece for any woman that may at one point have been in love with a gay man. Mariska’s sarcasm and expressionless face allow me to create the humour I need to deal with what would otherwise be a sensitive issue. Another character I have created to deal with serious issues in a fun way is Thandawami, the “Love tokoloshe”. He can speak about the pain of solitude and the difficulties in finding a partner as well as broaching matters like venereal diseases and unprotected sex, all the while making the audience laugh at his high-pitched voice and vernacular expletives.

I myself have been called a "bear" in the past. What does this mean?

In the show Mariska (the reluctant fag hag) acts as a replacement tutor for a course called Gay 101. In the course she describes various types or groupings to be found in the gay community. She describes a bear as being “a somewhat stocky and hairy gay man, often found in the woods”. Obviously there is much more to this term than her explanation.

I believe there are also "serious" messages in between the music and laughter – issues like safe sex, homophobia and hate crimes. How important is satire in promoting tolerance?

Satire is a powerful tool to promote tolerance. If you can laugh at yourself and learn not to take yourself so seriously you will be less likely to judge and condemn others. Satire often discourages fundamentalism, and that can go a long way towards minimising prejudice and hate crimes. I want to help build a healthy “queer” community that can laugh at itself and learn to love itself.


  • The Fat, the Femme and the Fabulous runs at the Joburg Theatre until 30 July.
    For more information visit www.joburgtheatre.com.