Phat Joe, real name Majota Mandlakayise Isaac Khambule, has been trending.
This time, for the right reason - he is the host of Showmax’s “Temptation Island South Africa”.
The radio and TV personality, while great at what he does, has a proclivity for putting his foot in it. On-air tussles with listeners and sudden radio exits paint a pattern.
Last year, he didn’t get the rousing welcome he expected when “Cheeky Palate” launched on 1Magic as homophobic comments made by guests on the show left the LGBTQIA+ community outraged.
Although several cases were filed against Phat Joe with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA), he was let off the hook as it was deemed that he didn’t advocate for hatred towards the community in question.
Does he suffer from foot-in-mouth disease? Yes. But, to be fair, we have a playground of celebrities who are guilty of this.
Anele Mdoda found herself in hot water for taking potshots at Kelly Rowland on more than one occasion, Pearl Thusi is renowned for her clap backs on social media (although she does have a problem reading the room before sharing her musings), Cassper Nyovest is always beefing with a rival and, Ntsiki Mazwai - the queen bee when it comes to being a s**t stirrer - certain takes the crown on all things contentious.
Whether she’s having a go at Thato “DJ Fresh” Sikwane after allegations of rape were levelled against him (he has since taken out a restraining order against her), calling out EFF leader Julius Malema for being a man of words and not action or slating DJ Zinhle for launching Hair Majesty, where she likened the sales of weaves to that of drugs. Ouch!
Now that I think about it, Phat Joe isn’t as bad as some of the rest.
And the lanky personality can be charming when he needs to be. Having hosted his iconic late-night show, “The Phat Joe Show”, he went on to host “The Real Goboza”, “Take Me Out: South Africa” and, later, “Take Me Out: Mzansi”.
He lent his Andy Cohen-esque touch to the reunion specials on “The Real Housewives of Durban” and “The Real Housewives of Johannesburg” 2.
Now, he’s channelling his inner matchmaker, so to speak, wonder if Aunty Sima from “Indian Matchmaking” gave him any tips, on “Temptation Island South Africa”.
The show is based on the Banijay-owned hit reality format and follows the journey of four couples at crossroads in their relationship. Working on it, with sexy options sauntering about, becomes a bit of a deal-breaker for some couples.
On bagging this gig, he said: “I believe the good folks at MultiChoice considered me for the role because of my performance on ‘Cheeky Palate’ and ‘Real Housewives’.
“I think they saw that I brought a different dynamic to television hosting and that I would add an element of diversity to their current crop of hosts across the channel.
“I love working and learning new things, so for me, when I was presented with the opportunity, it was a no-brainer, I just jumped and said, ‘YES!’ without even discussing what it was all about.”
Having been exposed to the reality genre, he has his role all mapped out, too.
He pointed out: “Let’s not forget, ‘Take Me Out Mzansi!’ formats are a really cool way to see how you measure up on a global scale as far as your talent.
“I love showcasing South Africa and in general African ability.
“I hope to bring the viewer closer to the individual couples and their personal human struggles.
“Shows like this are cool because they present a different dynamic to life that we all go through in some capacity: our desire to be loved, loneliness, abandonment, and more.
“Watching a show like this lets us know that we are okay, warts and all, because we are not alone in our struggles.”
In this kick-off season of the franchise, the creators have upped the ante by introducing some star clout.
Phat Joe added: “Celebrities are humans, too.
“Once you get over what they do for a living, they are no different from the rest of us. So I think people will be surprised by what they see from them.”
With a title like “Temptation Island”, location is everything. And so Knysna and the picturesque Garden Route were made characters on the show, too.
He added: “It was my first time in Knysna. I snuck off to Plett during the production as well. What a beautiful province.
“I live in Cape Town and I am more familiar with the West Coast (Darling, Langebaan, Mosselbay, etc.).
“After the production, I was supposed to fly back to Cape Town but rather opted to drive. I just love this country and this province.
“Because of Covid, I learned that property prices in Knysna are going up because people are opting for a better quality of life and prefer working virtually. I loved it.”
Although Phat Joe is the host, it hasn’t prevented him from getting familiar with the franchise, understanding how it works and its influence on the lives of those involved, too.
As for rumours of a new radio show, he revealed: “My company has a joint venture project with MTN called Mzansi.Radio, it’s now free on the Ayoba App.
“I am busy with a commercial-free to air radio station launching soon.
“We are also launching a new television channel, details coming soon. Finally, there are also about five television projects that we are producing this year into 2022.”
On how he thinks this dating reality show will be received on the back of “The Bachelorette SA” and “Love Island South Africa”, he admitted: “A lot of people are alone at home, and as social beings, reality TV presents a really cool supplement for that social engagement.
“It’s like watching a sporting match and you are rooting for a team, screaming at the TV. Reality TV does the same thing, viewers bond with a certain cast member, and they go through their struggles with them over the series.
“The lockdown has taught us that any form of human interaction is important, whether virtual or one way via a phone or video screen.
“If we cannot see people, we need to read their words, listen to their singing or voice, and even watch them on the screen.”
“Temptation Island South Africa” streams on Showmax from Thursday, August 26.