Amor Vittone and Joost van der Westhuizen have been the local ‘it’ couple among the Afrikaans community since their marriage in 2002, and have even been likened to a South African version of English power-family, The Beckhams.
Yet Amor’s talents have far outshone those of her anorexically skinny counterpart, with a wide array of awards encompassing many different fields. After becoming the African Tap and Modern Dance champion for seven consecutive years in the 1980s, Amor became one of South Africa’s most publicised celebrities.
From singing to television presenting, Amor’s popularity culminated in a Gold Status CD and a SAMA-nomination for ‘Best Afrikaans Pop Album’ in 2006. But it’s not merely Amor’s skills that have thrown her into the media spotlight, as her marriage in 2002 to fellow celeb Joost van der Westhuizen has proven: Every aspect of the couple’s lives has been reported by the media, from their fairy-tale wedding to the births of their two children, Kylie and Jordan.
But not all is bright in the world of Amor Vittone. Recent problems, including reported feuds with other celebrities, and all manner of scandal has rocked the world of the happy couple of six years.
At a 2007 KKNK performance, Amor was subjected to verbal abuse about the state of her breasts by a man who forced his way onstage. Of course, this event could not eclipse the scandal involving obviously digitally-edited nude photographs of Amor in the December 2004 edition of local porn-rag LosLyf, which resulted in a large court-ordered settlement to comfort the clearly rattled celeb.
There was also Amor’s recent altercation with fashion designer Michael Bezuidenhout over payment for the number of corset orders she had placed. These developments have provided enough intrigue to keep the South Africans glued to their copies of Huisgenoot.
So, in an attempt to satisfy our need for gossip, the down-to-earth and unpretentious celeb has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her celeb status, her gay fan base and all those juicy scandals.
So what have you been up to lately, Amor? Been up to anything we should be excited about?
Well, I’ve been working on the new album (I don’t know what the name is yet) and I’m also working on a new TV project, which I can’t really say too much about yet, as I’m under contractual obligation [she laughs], but it involves dance and music together, because that’s what I love, and that’s what I’ve grown up with. But mostly I’ve been a mother to my kids. I wanted to be at home with them, and stay out of the media for a while. I still have time for my job, and of course, going to the gym every day. Lately, I’ve even become an avid boxer.
A year and a half ago, I started with a personal trainer, who made me do sit-ups, push-ups and the other ‘army’ stuff, and then we started with the [punching] bag. I love it, and when me and Joost started training together, sometimes we’d spar.
I guess no one should try to mess with you, that’s for sure…
Ja, you better not! [She laughs] I actually managed to give Joost a little bit of an uppercut the other day!
That’s one way to sort out marital tension! Is it tough to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood along with your heavy work schedule?
Motherhood has really fulfilled me and emotionally. My schedule has changed since the kids were born, and me and Joost have been seeing a life-coach to help us out with that. He helps you develop your dreams and aspirations, and helps you organise every aspect of your life. We’re conditioned into believing that if you don’t work 12 hours a day you’ll become a failure, but it’s a load of bull. Life is more about being smart with your time, taking days off and knowing your personality.
Considering your frequent appearances in the media, how have you managed stay sane, especially with the constant scrutiny about every aspect of your life?
Joost and I are in exactly the same boat, we don’t mind people writing about me or him, or us, as long as it’s the truth. If you don’t like my album or what I’m wearing, fine. But when the media gets vindictive, or simply lies, that’s when I get upset. Now that I have a family, it’s inappropriate for people to write about whether or not they think I’m wearing underwear. My kids are at school, and the other kids talk.
What do you think about your marriage being compared to David and Victoria Beckham? Do you see it as a positive comparison?
People compare us just because Joost is a rugby player, David’s a soccer player, Posh is a singer, I’m a singer. But personally, I don’t like being compared because I don’t want to be like anyone else, I want to live my own life. I think Victoria and David make a great couple, and we’re not in the position to scrutinize their lives, because we don’t know them. But I have to say, whenever you see her she’s impeccably dressed, and it’s amazing for a mother of three to look like that. Also, Joost and I haven’t had their marriage problems, so I wouldn’t like to be compared on that level!
“Joost and I are a fabulous team, and we come up with great ideas at night…”
Do you have a particular idol or role model from whom you draw inspiration?
I’ve always liked Kylie Minogue. I wouldn’t call her my idol, but she’s been a person that I’ve always admired from a distance. She’s always maintained her style and femininity, and always been classy in whatever she’s done. She can wear the skimpiest bikinis and still look sophisticated and feminine. That’s why we named our daughter after her. Jordan is named after Michael Jordan, the sports star that Joost’s always looked up to.
How do you feel about being seen as a ‘gay-icon’?
Well, it’s great! I have a lot of gay friends; some of my best friends in the industry are gay. My favourite make-up artist just oozes personality, and I find his energy absolutely addictive. I thrive on other people’s energy, and if I find a person’s energy beautiful, then I want to spend time with that person. Thing is, even at school, I always got along better with the guys. I have my girlfriends but I just relate better to men, especially gay guys, and we always get along really well.
Do you see a lot of response from your gay following?
I get a lot of gay guys and lesbian ladies asking for autographs and things, but most of all, my gay audience loves sending me gifts! There’s a fan in Cape Town who sent me all of the Kylie stuff, DVDs and books. I told him “No, you don’t have to”, but he insisted I take it because it was a gift. I also received some cushions with me and my kids’ faces on them, and I found them so amusing and great and I think it’s fantastic that there are people out there like that. What’s not to like about lots of free gifts?
So when can your fans expect another CD? It’s been two years!
It’s going to be mostly Afrikaans, with a little bit of English. A lot of people think I’m English because I was on the Lotto and I speak English so often, but I was raised Afrikaans at an Afrikaans school. This CD is going to be more dancey, adult contemporary pop with a modern edge to it. I’ve always liked to push the boundaries, and being a little different.
And what about some more collaborations between you and Joost?
Well, I always work better with someone, because you always tend to come up with better ideas when you’re co-working or co-designing. Joost and I are a fabulous team, and we come up with great ideas at night. We feed off