Rose-tinted spectacle: former stripper lays bare a pink feast
She left contestants speechless with her pink trotters and chicken feet on BBC series 'Come Dine With Me SA
No one could predict or prepare for the avalanche of pink that was to hit them when they stepped into the Sandton palace of former stripper turned beauty entrepreneur Ennie Thembie Cleary.
Popularly known as “Barbie Brazil” – for her doll-like appearance – Cleary, one of four contestants on BBC Brit’s Come Dine With Me SA, did not manage to tickle her dinner guests pink with her adventurous menu of pink chicken feet and heads, pink pap and trotters and a trashy, wet and messy tart – mostly pink, of course. Although the love flowed for the eccentric Cleary, the same could not be said for the group’s culinary experience,. They scored her a dismal 15 out of 40 points for her disastrous offering.
In a Q&A, Ennie chewed the fat about her choice of menu and her love for all things pink.
Why did you decide to take part in Come Dine With Me SA?
I have difficulty sleeping, so I have plenty of time to myself – and I get bored easily.
Yes, I do have work – my husband (who is a grumpy old man), my son, his homework and our six dogs. But I’m just too energetic.
I also love Come Dine With Me SA and wanted to bring something different to it. Contestants always cook the same thing, and it’s generally stuff that they don’t cook daily – they don’t show us what they eat in private or what their guilty pleasures are.
I wanted to go back to my roots a little and say hey, I may be all fancy, but I eat chicken heads and chicken feet ... but they have to be pink!
I’m usually at restaurants and hotels eating fancy, well-presented food that sometimes tastes like cardboard.
People do eat chicken feet, but sometimes when they see the cameras, they turn their noses up and say: “I don’t eat that.” When the camera comes around, be original and be real. If it is something you would ordinarily eat, don’t worry about what people will think.
I’m not embarrassed. I’m a legend, and nothing scares me.
The show is all about the madness. I also wanted to watch the other contestants sweat and get confused, but in the end, I was the one who ended up sweating and getting confused!
What were some of the challenge and triumphs for you on the show?
Keeping up and trying to look good on camera, which I obviously eventually gave up on, and I just became me.
I laid my heels to rest while running around in pink socks – it’s easy to tiptoe in them.
On my night I kept on the move and tried not to burn the food, otherwise I would have had to start all over again!
The pink dumpling dough failed me, so I had to cancel it – I kept on fiddling with it, and the sticky dough kept on getting stuck under my scary nails and giving me pink nightmares.
Was there a lot of stress and pressure having to cook when there are so many people filming and watching over your shoulder?
There was so much pressure! I am an extremely confident person. A person who doesn’t know me would think I’m arrogant; I’m not. I’m very humble.
The pressure of having all the cameras and a lot of people around you was like being in the army. You get confused and lose focus.
It was stressful, but it was very fun as everyone was lovely. Rapid Blue studios tickled me pink.
Tell me about your love for all things pink?
I have always loved pink. I have never gone this far, and I’m just getting started.
I have more pink picture frames around that still need to be hung.
I also don’t like the tiles in our home because they are slightly brown, lots of brown wood and not pink. The brown is just depressing. I am brown, so I don’t need all this brown wood competing with my brownness! It looks like an old age home. I have an old husband; I can keep up with him, but I don’t want anything else that looks old.
Why do you love pink?
Apart from it making me happy, it is just colourful, and it makes me feel like a doll. You wake up and you see all this brightness and it brightens up your mood, even if someone tries hard to ruin your day.
Being surrounded by pink is like being in a candy world. Pink drinks, pink walls, pink shoes, pink clothes, pink everything makes me feel untouchable.
What is the craziest collection of pink things that you own?
Probably my underwear. My bras are all pink. If I can’t find pink bras then I buy them white and dye them pink. I’m the queen of dyeing and spraying!
I do have other clothes that have flowers on them. That’s why I wore the jumpsuit on the last night of Come Dine With Me SA. Trying to keep up with the feel, but there was a little bit of pink. I’m getting rid of all my clothes that aren’t pink though, as I want everything to be pink.
I still hope that Louboutin shoes can have a pink sole instead of red – that would be interesting.
If I could trademark pink I would have, but unfortunately you can’t trademark a colour!
How is your pink obsession viewed by friends, family and strangers?
It gets me attention that I actually don’t appreciate much. I just want to be a normal pink human being.
People take pictures of you walking or trying to eat. I love the children though. They are so excited when they see me and say things like: “Mommy, look! Pink!”
I watch people take pictures of me, my pink car and everything else, and I appreciate people who come up to me and ask if they can take pictures. Otherwise, sometimes the attention can be too much.
How did you get the name Barbie Brazil?
It was my stage name when I was a stripper. I was very tiny and looked like a Barbie, and because I’m brown chocolate, we added in the “Brazil”.