Nicole Fox has been a long-time friend of the gay community. A self-proclaimed ‘fag-hag’, she’s used her powerful visibility as one of the country’s most popular presenters on national youth radio station 5FM to support gay rights and issues.

If there was ever any doubt, her obsessive and very vocal adoration of Madonna was a sure sign that Nicole and us gay boys were intrinsically bound together.

Over the years, we’ve seen Nicole grow from a slightly awkward duckling into a fashion and style swan, regularly included in various “sexiest” magazine lists. Plus, she’s branched into television by presenting the M-Net Movie Show. Nicole’s personal life is also on a high, with the recent engagement to Nigerian-based businessman Ramzi Mansour.

With the world at her fingertips and her career at its peak few expected Nicole to announce that, after eight years in the hot seat, she’d be leaving 5FM. So what’s with the drastic life-altering-changes?

“New challenges to pursue, new ventures and the freedom to decide what I want to do and when I want to do it,” she replies over coffee. Nicole makes it clear however that she hasn’t lost her love for the medium of radio. “I love how direct it is. And I love music, but I am at a stage where I definitely need new challenges.”

Some of those new challenges include getting back into the business side of the media, and specifically into TV production. “It’s something I studied and started working in. My long term aim is to make documentaries – and I’m looking forward to using my brain again,” she laughs.

Surprisingly, she claims that she’s looking forward to getting away from the “glitz and glam” that she’s become so associated with. While admitting that her celebrity has opened many doors Nicole denies that she actively sought out fame.

“What I wanted was to work in media. I wanted a microphone or a platform – I wanted to speak. I love the media; I can talk in front of people, I can give you the sound-bites. It just comes easily to me.”

So what will she miss most when she’s no longer on the airwaves? “The fact that I was able to disseminate information to people – specifically with regard to the charities, the spiking of drinks, animal welfare and the gay community,” she says thoughtfully. “It’s the fact that you can put messages out there and make a difference or change the way someone thinks about something.”

“…I will be a fag-hag until the day I die…” – Nicole Fox

Right from the start of her career she seemed to have an affinity for the gay boys; something she says just came naturally to her. “I’m just a fag-hag at heart,” she laughs. “A lot of my closest, dearest friends are gay guys and I guess I’ve just had a long history of knowing gay people. They’re my friends so I empathise with what they’re going through – you become emphatic towards those issues.”

One of the reasons that has led Nicole to leave 5FM is undoubtedly the strain of a long-distance relationship with Ramzi (“my soulmate,” she sighs) and a desire to begin to plan a family. “He’s come down to South Africa every single month for a year. I think I owe him a trip or two up there,” she says wryly.

Free from daily work commitments, she will now be able to commute more often to Lagos, Nigeria, essentially giving her two home bases to work from.

According to Nicole, the relationship wasn’t quite a case of love at first sight, but it was close enough: The two lovebirds met at a business lunch and she recalls initially being annoyed that he was constantly taking cell phone calls. But by the end of the meeting she was determined to see him again. “Within five days of knowing him, I knew that I was going to marry him,” she adds.

Nicole’s final show on 5FM will be on March 31, but she will be showing her gratitude to her gay fans for their years of support by deejaying at the upcoming Qc Shiny Disco Balls party on April 4.

“I’ve invited all of my friends to come to this gig. I’m so excited – it’s just a huge thank you to the boys. I’m playing from 12 till 1.30, so it’s a longer set, and I’m opening with a really spectacular secret track. Plus, they’ve agreed to let the shower boys dance next to me,” she giggles.

Although the Qc event is billed as a farewell of sorts, Nicole admits that she isn’t quite ready to pack up her deejay party shoes for good. “I would love to still do a few occasional parties, like some of the big Qc events and the Mother City parties.”

“I love the gay parties the most because I get to play the music I love, which I can’t at straight parties because people leave the dance floor,” she says with a grin, adding “I would put the gay community events at the top of my list before considering others.”

I ask what will happen once she has the husband and the kids and the white picket fence. Will we, her loyal gay fans, lose Nicole Fox entirely to suburban bliss? “No, of course not! It is possible not to; I mean look at Madonna,” she says earnestly. But then she laughs loudly, stating: “I will be a fag-hag until the day I die!” It’s a promise we’ll hold you to Nicole.

Nicole’s last show on 5FM is on Monday 31 March from 19:00 to 22:00. She will be deejaying at the Qc Shiny Disco Balls party on April 4 at Joburg’s Partyhouse at The Dome. Visit www.queercity.co.za for more details.

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