Tue 12 Dec 2017, 10:04
Watch online on DStv Now, and meet the interesting man who has 5 000 strange Facebook friends, and whose life is now a reality-TV show.
Follow popular social media user DuPreez Strauss in My Vreemde Vriende on VIA (DStv Channel 147), Saturdays at 15:00, and watch online on DStv Now.
We caught up with the super interesting man with over 5 000 friends on his personal account to tell us more about his exciting new venture.
Who is DuPreez Strauss and describe your personality in 5 words?
Only five words! I’ll have to think about that…
Artistic - My whole life revolves around the creation, experiencing and understanding my art. I perceive my life to be a type of art form and try to create beauty wherever I go - beautiful things, beautiful people, beautiful places and rich experiences.
Hyperactive - I can’t seem to sit still. I’m constantly on the lookout for new things to learn and experience.
Bored - not always, but I lose interest quickly and am constantly searching for a new exciting project.
Passionate - sometimes I get so intensely involved with what I’m busy with that I forget to eat, sleep and brush my teeth for days on end! It’s rather embarrassing. The only thing I can’t forget is the next cup of coffee to keep me going.
Diverse - I’ve had several careers - from orchestra conductor to TV-producer to artist. Many people have told me over the years I need to focus on one thing but that’s never worked for me.
What is the one childhood memory that you would never forget?
I was raised in Bloemfontein and the first time we went on a family holiday to Cape Town my life changed. We spent one evening having dinner at Planet Hollywood and for me, as a farm boy from Bloem, it was as if the world had opened up. A few weeks later the restaurant was blown up and my mom passed away suddenly. It felt like I needed to grow up overnight. That dinner feels like the last memorable evening of my childhood.
Name 3 people that influence your life-decisions and form a part of your current success story.
I have a list on my phone irrespective of where I go globally. It is a list of names of people that have made such a large impact in my life. I look at it when I am in a difficult situation or need to make a difficult decision and ask myself; “What would this person do in this situation? It features my aunt Ina - who lived on a farm in the Free State, with whom everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong. She never gave up and is a beam of positivity and love in my life. My sister Martie is also on the list: when she was two she was hit by a car. The doctors wanted to switch off the machines but my mother refused and my sister had to learn to walk and talk again. She’s made a wonderful success of her life. Another person on my list is Oloff, a person for whom I worked several times on one of Australia’s largest reality programmes. There are over 500 people that work on that programme! It gets very stressful at times but Oloff remains fair, is a people’s person and is always calm. If it weren’t for him this TV-industry would’ve put me in a stress clinic long ago.
How did your career start?
That depends on what career we’re referring to! My conducting career began when I learnt the art of conducting in New York. At that point in time I had accidentally heard that The Lion King musical was playing in South Africa so I contacted the producer who invited me to his hotel in Manhattan. We drank a few $10 cups of coffee when he suddenly jumped up and disappeared into his hotel room. He reappeared a few minutes later with a thick book full of Mozart sonatas. He asked the waiter: “Do you have a piano?” and the next moment I am seated at a black grand-piano in a marble ballroom sight-reading the most difficult classical sonatas. I almost died. I’m assuming he was impressed because next thing I knew I was one of the conductors for The Lion King and I’ve conducted it nearly 800 times!
My Vreemde Vriende, what is the story behind the reality-TV programme and how did you come up with the idea?
Three years ago two of my friends Michelle and Minet decided after consuming some wine that they believed my escapades and unusual friends belong on a TV show. They called to tell me the next day and I told them they’re crazy, but the idea did start growing on me. I had a good look at my Facebook page and realised that my life does seem interesting to others and that maybe that’s why I have thousands of Facebook friends. I travel a lot to the most breathtaking locations - I’ve lived on four continents and that’s why I have unique friends all over the world. One thing led to another and now my life is a TV programme.
Tell us more about My Vreemde Vriende.
In My Vreemde Vriende I meet one of my most interesting social media friends in every episode. I choose friends whose lives are very different to mine because I like to broaden my own horizons and get to know people better, and that is a wonderful experience! Each of these “strangers” whom I’ve only met over the internet before, have actually become my real friends throughout the show.
If you could choose one celebrity to appear in My Vreemde Vriende who would it be and why?
I actually specifically didn’t want famous people on this programme because I wanted to learn more about ordinary people with exceptional lives. But Lady Gaga, if you’re reading this article please send me a Facebook message!
Tell us about the funniest behind-the-scenes story that you’ve experienced so far.
I have several photos of members of the film crew that are literally rolling around on the floor because of laughter while we’re trying to film. There were ridiculously funny moments that we experienced together like the moment I giggled while my dominatrix friend Cleo tried to tell me who’s the boss. She slapped me so hard through my face that my spit landed on the camera lens! Everyone but myself thought it was hilarious!
Describe the biggest blooper that has happened on your show.
I love the fact that Afrikaans can sound so unique when different people speak it. When we got together with Antonio the rapper from the Cape flats I couldn’t understand the Afrikaans he spoke or sang. I was so embarrassed! I had to constantly ask him “What did you say?” Thank goodness no one is ever going to see this blooper. I am a huge fan of Antonio’s rap music and want to better acquaint myself with the Cape flats lingo.
How did you manage to get 5 000 friends on Facebook?
I know most people only accept people on Facebook whom they’ve met in real life. But I just click “accept” each time and have been doing so for years! Every time I upload a new photo of myself on a tropical beach or at a European cathedral, then I get a few hundred new friends! It’s strange how these things work. I think people search around on social media on the lookout for people that they deem interesting. I do it too!
by Alice da Silva