Paul du Toit has been gracing the small screen for years, and for fans of Binnelanders, 7de Laan and local theatre, he’s a familiar face and a household name. As the newest Nic Harry sock ambassador to come on board, we sat down to chat about what he gets up to, how he feels about high heels and what style means to him.
Nic Harry (NH): Let’s talk about some of your roles. What have been your favourite roles to play?
Paul du Toit (PDT): Performing The Rocky Horror Show for 440 sold out performances was definitely a highlight. Currently, I am absolutely loving Hedwig [from Hedwig and the Angry Inch]. I’ve also done some cool movies, like Noem My Skolllie- I play an evil cop in this harrowing film- which has actually been selected as the South African entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Oscars.
In the Afrikaans universe, I’ve been involved in the revived play Hemelruim, which is about the universe, string theory and parallel universes, relativity, bee-keeping and love. I was also in Binnelanders, 7de Laan, Semi-Soet and Liefling die Movie.
NH: When playing a character like Frank N. Furter (in The Rocky Horror Show), you are required to dress in drag. Was this something you had done before?
PDT: No, but I was alarmed by how easily I was comfortable with it. The hardest thing to get used to is high heels.
NH: how long does it take to apply makeup as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
PDT: 2 hours. The most challenging part is hiding my eyebrows. The process requires using Pritt Glue, powder, more glue and more powder until there are three layers.
NH: When you’re performing, what you wear is an important part of becoming a character. How important are clothes to you when you’re off-screen/offstage?
PDT: When playing a character, my wardrobe is organised into functional units. My wardrobe basically reflects my hobbies- I do a lot of outdoor sports- so my fashion style is more about practical necessities. When I have to dress up at events, I’m usually dressed by others or taken to a tailor.
NH: The central theme of the play is about gender identity. How important do you think the rise of gender fluidity is in current times?
PDT: Life is grey scale. Preferences like sexuality, personality and the way you like your coffee have no right and wrong answer. It becomes dangerous when the state feels the need to pigeonhole, to get involved and to legislate sexuality and marriage. The character Hedwig is an example of how people don’t choose who they are, that no one chooses it.
NH: Do people recognise you on the street?
PDT: I’ve found that the smaller the town, the bigger the response. Capetonians are good at leaving people alone. One time in Reddersburg (roughly 80km from Bloemfontein) my car broke down. All the ooms and tannies banded together, fed the family, bathed the kids, fetched a mechanic and took me to the local pub where I wasn’t allowed to pay for anything.
NH: Any wardrobe malfunction stories while performing?
PDT: My pants fell down on stage once. The show stopped, and everyone including the audience and the other performers, laughed. My wig has also fallen off whilst playing Hedwig.
NH: What is your favourite item of clothing?
PDT: Pre 1994 SADF Army issued boots. They have been properly worn in and travelled the world. I’ve had to stick the soles on numerous times, but they’ve become a part of my body. I like to wear them at inappropriate times, like when wearing a tuxedo.
NH: What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
PDT: The oldest item is my grandfather’s WW2 Sam Browne dress belt. It’s a beautiful belt, with a brass attachment and leather stitching.
NH: Who is your favourite fashion designer?
PDT: Whoever puts me in their stuff and makes me look nice. Nic Harry is up there at the moment [Editor’s note: we didn’t even tell him to say that]. Niall Griffin, who designs the costumes, the makeup and the sets is someone I appreciate for his ability to do something I never could.
NH: How often do you wear a tie?
PDT: Only when an audition requires one. I’m very good at tying a bowtie even without a mirror- in fact it’s actually my party trick!
NH: Favourite accessory? (wrist band, watch, pocket square, tie, etc etc)
PDT: Sunglasses, I’m always breaking them. Because of my sensitive blue eyes, I feel naked without them.
NH: How often do you shop for clothing?
PDT: Almost never. I have people who do it for me.
NH: Your least favourite thing to wear?
PDT: Some shows necessitate a g-string. It’s something you are constantly reminded of, like “Hi I’m here!” All. The. Time.
NH: Where do you find style inspiration?
PDT: I’m an outdoorsy guy. I have a natural style that is comfortable and suitable for outdoors. If I feel the urge to jump into the ocean, I can do it. I love the sea, the beach and the ocean. That’s what determines how I dress for the day.
NH: Winter or summer style?
NH: Sneakers or slops?
PDT: Slops unless work-required
NH: Boxers or briefs?
NH: Button up or T-shirt?
NH: Denims or chinos?
NH: Shirt tucked in or left out?
PDT: Left out