If you’ve been to any gay parties or social events in Joburg over the last couple of months, you can’t possibly have missed the figure of an Amazonian air-hostess at every turn – boasting calves of steel and dressed in a baby blue uniform. Puzzled? Well, all will be revealed…
That outrageously imposing blonde woman is non-other than Cathy Specific, a former flight attendant recently turned stage performer. Cathy is the star and co-writer of the musical revue show, Mile High with Cathy Specific. Mambaonline caught up with the voluptuous star-in-the-making in-between frantic rehearsals just before the official opening.
How long have you been flying?
I’ve been flying for about 10 years. It’s something I always wanted to do from a young age. I have memories as a child roller-skating in the driveway pretending to be serving passengers… “Chicken or beef?” Yes, there is a choice! But my other big dream was to star in a musical. Being in the air is like being on stage – the only difference is that people don’t clap. Well, not usually. With Mile High, I’ve gotten to make both my dreams come true…
Why did you decide to take your experiences, about flying specifically, to the stage?
People think it’s glamorous and it’s not, trust me darling. The public are intrigued and mesmerized by aircrew and aviation; if 10 air-hostesses walk through JFK everyone just stops everything and stares.
Why do you think that is?
There’s an air of mischief and mystery about it all. They’re intrigued by what happens when we close those galley curtains. They only see the glamour. Never mind the fact that your bowel movements are fucked! Should I be awake, should I be asleep? Is my hotel number 45A or was that the hotel in the last city I was in? And, with all this traveling, where does a girl get a man? Contrary to popular belief we don’t, sadly, have a man in every port…
Did you train as a singer or does it come naturally?
I did train; classical voice training overseas for a year in the UK. Then I spent three years at the Pretoria Technicon – now know as the Tshwane University of Technology – doing a musical diploma. After that I became an air-hostess.
So, what can we expect from Mile High?
It’s jam-packed with all my on-board experiences – plus it has a lot of input from other crew members. It’s 75 minutes of sheer entertainment; fantastic music and fabulous choreography. And it’s really, really funny. It’s my satirical look at the airlines. I’m gong to tell you all those things you wanted to know and all those things that you didn’t!
You’re quite tall for a woman. Has that ever proven to be a problem onboard aircraft?
Not really, although I’m six-foot-six in heels. I always say, the bigger the better. I can even fit into Economy Class – And that’s where all the fun is. It’s a much bigger audience than in Business…
I’ve heard rumours that you might have been born a man and later had a sex change – or to be political correct “gender re-assignment surgery.”
Well, don’t let the big hands and big feet deceive you. I’m all woman. My grandmother was a German Olympic javelin thrower, which could explain matters. It’s all in the genes.
What’s the best and worst part of being an air hostess?
The best, of course, is traveling – you get to see the world repeatedly. In fact – over and over again. I’ve been to London so many times I keep a pot plant in my hotel room! I water it every time I’m there – and it’s doing just fine. The worst, I suppose, is that I haven’t had any luck in settling down. And the fatigue! I’m constantly tired, You do get hooked on the job. You get used to buying your toothpaste from New York and triple-ply toilet paper in Zurich.
“…If there’s one thing I can do it’s work a room. I’ve been called ‘larger than life…’”
What’s the strangest incident you’ve experienced on a flight?
Well, I’ve never lost an engine like Nationwide if that’s what you mean. I’ve had the occasional death on board…
How do you deal with that?
Well, what can you do? You put them in the reclining position, slap on a pair of headphones and place an in-flight magazine on their laps – and no-one is the wiser. You can’t exactly drag a body through the aisles, can you?
What’s your favourite destination and why?
London and New York! Purely for the West End and Broadway. I spend all my meal allowances on seeing the shows. I’ve longed for the lights and now it’s come true.
Why do you think gay men are seduced by the idea of working on aircraft?
They always say the best flight attendants are gay men. Gay boys are outgoing and fun – and passengers love that. Perhaps it’s the whole carefree lifestyle that appeals. And, gay boys love to shop! I won’t mention the whole flying-mattress thing – you can’t paint everyone with the same brush after all…
They seem fascinated by you…
Well, if there’s one thing I can do it’s work a room. And they like that… I’ve been called “larger than life.”
You spent a lot of time promoting your show at gay parties and clubs of late. Had you ever been to a gay club before this?
Of course! I love going with the gay crew to the clubs – all the way from Splash in New York to Heaven in London.
You never have a hair out of place. How do you manage that?
Hours of work! And I have a lot of help.
How would you describe your ideal man?
Definitely not a Captain! I know what I want in a man and a Captain doesn’t have it. I like the rugged type. A man that can rip off my pillbox hat… A man who opens the car door and runs me a bath. And, in a room filled with a thousand women, he must only have eyes for me.
Are you a member of the ‘mile high club?’ And, if so, how often do you renew your membership?
Yes I am. There’s a reason the show’s called Mile High. I suppose as often as the opportunity presents itself. I am after all single. I am allowed. I can be very stern when passengers try it though.
What are your plans after Mile High? Will you take the skies once more?
Well, if some Sheikh asks me to work his private luxury Lear jet I wouldn’t say no… But, otherwise, the theatre is my new home. Although, never say never…
Tell us something about yourself that no-one knows.
I’m quite an accomplished pianist. I love rollerblading… and pets: I have miniature schnauzer named Rhemus.
What would you like to say to all your gay-fans-to-be?
Well, I suppose my career now depends on all of them out there. I’ll be around as long as they want me to be…
Mile High with Cathy Specific is on at the Liberty Life Theatre On The Square until 31 December. Book at Computicket.