On heels and an up­ward spin

This ‘self-made artist’ tames the of­ten hairy chal­lenges of be­ing a DJ in drag – in style

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODSTUFF - WENDYL MARTIN

DRESSES and make-up may be his style at gigs he spins at around Cape Town, but the man be­hind the drag of Spin­sista Mitzi waved at me from across the street with suf­fi­cient manly stub­ble and un­ruly curls.

Nico van Ton­der is a far cry in civil­ian cloth­ing from the glam DJ Mitzi.

The Good Week­end spoke to him this week be­fore the Pon­cho Party he is play­ing at tonight at Keenwä, a Peru­vian restau­rant on Waterkant Street.

Van Ton­der’s jour­ney be­gan at Bronx on Som­er­set Road, which he joined in 1994 as a waiter, and then as DJ. He also did drag shows with col­leagues. “While the other girls were per­form­ing I would be in the DJ box. I still wanted to do drag and that’s how I com­bined the two.”

He moved across the street to play at a club called 55 un­til it closed in May 2003 and left him un­em­ployed.

Van Ton­der then got a job in the cargo in­dus­try and in 2008 landed his cur­rent IT job.

“I lost every­thing, but I am solid now. I had to learn to play hard ball with clubs who would not pay ba­sic rates. I trans­port my­self to gigs. When it comes to my mu­sic, I can’t do much dur­ing the day. I use the night to or­gan­ise my life and do pod­casts.”

Mitzi de­scribes his mu­sic as up­lift­ing and com­mer­cial. He uses funk, old school, sen­sual and vo­cal el­e­ments.

“I’m a self-made artist, I didn’t study sound. I’d love to do pro­duc­ing.”

Mitzi has been busy this year, and played four char­ity gigs pro bono: The Pink Ball at Cape Town Sta­dium, Pos­i­tive He­roes’s Bloom Fash­ion Show, the an­nual Mr Leather­man SA show and the Diban­ini Cape Town cel­e­bra­tion.

He de­scribed the Bloom show, held last month to raise funds for Aids aware­ness, as a touch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence since he knew a lot of Hiv-pos­i­tive peo­ple who had died.

“I got to wear a de­signer dress, babe. Scar did my hair. I f***ing bought my own hair (re­fer­ring to his hair­piece).”

Dress­ing up to DJ can take up to three hours.

“I have to do a lot of shav­ing. I’m very hairy. Some drags have it good. I have to do a lot of con­struc­tion.” And be­ing a DJ in drag has chal­lenges. “Wear­ing head­phones and a wig, I some­times get hair down my throat. Hair­pieces are more prac­ti­cal. I slick back my hair and tie it down. Dur­ing the day I like to look like me and not be teased at work. I have thick, dark eye­brows. I use FX make-up and I draw new eye­brows.”

You would think he has a large wardrobe of drag cloth­ing, but no.

“I’ve out­grown stuff, some (out­fits) have been lost to fires and thieves. I have 20 wigs, 12 dresses and four pairs of heels. I am not into sup­ple­ments – you know, hor­mone re­place­ment stuff. Even in drag I am still me, just with more colour and glit­ter. Spin is just a lit­tle more flam­boy­ant.”

And for tonight’s Pon­cho Party, how does he plan to wear a pon­cho in this heat?

“I want to put the glam into pon­cho. Mine will be a play on a Ver­sace style, one I can go straight from the beach to the bar in. I’m go­ing to have to find a pair of cream shoes to go with the colour scheme. I’m go­ing to wear my hair long and black like a Greek girl.”

And to top it off, Mitzi says he is play­ing at MCQP next Satur­day.

“I won’t be us­ing a vast cos­tume as I am in a work environment. I must be com­fort­able.”

As for New Year’s Eve, we’ve all lost out. He’s been booked for a pri­vate gig.

For up­dates from this DJ diva, fol­low him on Twit­ter us­ing the han­dle @I_am_spin.

The Pon­cho Party is at Keenwä, 50 Waterkant Street, at 7.30pm and Mitzi plays from 9.30pm. Tick­ets cost R200 and in­clude a three-course meal from a set menu and a cock­tail. If you wear a pon­cho you get a drink and if you bring a mir­ror for the bath­room wall you get a Pisco Sour shooter. Con­tact Keenwä’s at 021 419 2633 or info@keenwa.co.za

You can book Mitzi for events at 072 762 6905 or spin­sista569@gmail.com

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