When it comes to social butterflies, one of the brightest on the Auckland scene is the one, the only, Colin Mathura-Jeffree.
Always impeccably dressed and always ready with a sharp quip or big laugh, Mathura-Jeffree knows all the movers, the shakers - and the haters - in town.
Late last year, Spy said you weren't anybody until you had posed with him at a party. (Although for Mathura-Jeffree's own personal safety, we may have to recant that statement – more on that later.)
So this week, Spy had a chat to the model/actor/TV host/party personality about his (publishable) experiences on the social circuit.
SPY: On average, how many event invitations do you receive in a week?
CMJ: It depends on the time of year, but I usually have at least one invitation a day, with more per day as I get closer to the end of the week. I used to go to more than one event in an evening, but I don't anymore, because I found I was always thinking about where I had to be next.
SPY: So how do you decide which ones to go to?
CMJ: First, I decide if an event is going to be good for business. Sometimes I'm paid by the client to be there and sometimes I know that there are people there that need to see me. And then the next tier is about whether or not some of my friends are going [to the party] and I just wanna have fun. But I'll always have fun, I'll tell you that much.
SPY: What are some of your favourite events you look forward to every year?
CMJ: Oh, I love the races, I LOVE the races. Because not only is it dress-up, it's fantasy dress-up, you can always go a little bit ridiculous.
And you get to see your friends and you get to bet a little, and while I’m not a big gambler, I’ve made a little bit of money from betting, just by talking to people, to strangers.
You find the people with the smiles and I just ask "What tips have you got?" and they LOVE sharing tips. And people have come up to me, I swear, and said "You have to put $100 on this horse," and I’ll go, "How much are you putting on?" and they’ll say "$5,000." But I’ve walked away with about $5,000-6,000 from a $100 bet.
SPY: Well, speaking of dressing up for the races, you’re well-known for your bold fashion choices. How long do you spend putting together a look for an event?
CMJ: Not long at all, really. I'm very good friends with some very powerful New Zealand designers and I’ll always try to wear a New Zealand brand. But then again I have a lot of international clothes, too. Some people will say I only wear something once, but I don’t, I’ll wear it a few times.
SPY: If you had to get ready for an event at a pinch, what would be your go-to outfit?
CMJ: I'd definitely just wear a classic, fitted suit. But a suit isn't just wearing a suit, a tie, a nice crisp shirt. It's also the handkerchief, a lapel flower, changing up the shoes, and making it less business, more fashion.
I've got many suits. I wouldn't even know how many suits I have. And I don’t know how many shoes I have.
SPY: Your wardrobe must be a sight.
CMJ: I have two rooms full of clothes.
SPY: Previously we've said you ain’t anybody until you've had your pic taken with Colin Mathura-Jeffree...
CMJ: Thanks! That's caused me SO many problems.
SPY: Sorry about that. How often do you have random strangers grab you for a photo at a party?
CMJ: About 95 percent of the time.
SPY: And how do you feel about that?
CMJ: I'll have photos with people. [But] sometimes I'll be with my friends and just want to be photographed with them. And I don't monopolise [Spy photographer] Norrie [Montgomery]'s or any other photographer's time. I look at people monopolising photographers, you know, "Me, me, me, me!" and I think "Oh, you poor man."
Some people are physical. They'll just grab me. This girl, who didn't know me, grabbed me for a photograph, because Norrie was there, and she'd already spoken to me and said, "I want to have a photo with you, because I want to be in the papers."
I smiled. I didn't know her, she didn't tell me her name, and I casually walked off and went to take a flute of champagne, and she grabbed my arm and pulled me and I knocked the waiter's whole tray of champagne down. And she didn’t care. She still wanted to have the photo and I was so prickly after that.
SPY: So what tips do you have for those who want to make a splash on the local scene that don't involve assaulting you?
CMJ: Anyone will be photographed if they actually look the part.
Also the major mistake that people make when it comes to being photographed is how messy they are. All of a sudden it becomes a rush, because they assume that Norrie only has three seconds to photograph them after spending half an hour trying to get his attention.
So you're clutching your bag, you're clutching half a glass of champagne and an hors d'oeuvre in one hand, you know, it's ridiculous. Put everything down. If you do not have a full flute of champagne, put it down. Fill it up or put it down. And just look prepared. I walk past people [having their photo taken] and I’ll grab the stuff off them.
Because it’s all about the event and the brand [being promoted], everything needs to be a perfect moment.
SPY: I'm almost always at the snack table at a party. Where are you normally found at a party?
CMJ: A friend of mine actually said to me the other day that I’m like a cow, I'm constantly grazing. I love food as well, so I'm often found around there too.
Otherwise you'll probably find me in the thick of a great conversation. If I haven't seen someone in ages, I must make sure I know what's happening.
And I don't mind talking to strangers. I have a real attraction to beautiful people, and by beautiful, I don't mean looking like Barbie dolls. I look at the energy and the character of a person and I'll just start a conversation with them. And that’s something my parents taught me, you know, don't be shallow in conversation, actually get to know people.
SPY: What about the dancefloor - what song never fails to get you up there?
CMJ: Anything old school, I'll shake it. I love dancing and I don't fear being the first person up or anything like that. The thing is with these parties, is just have fun. The most attractive person in there is the person having the most fun and if I'm not having fun, I won’t stay. I'm in, I do my work and I'm out. Because your time is precious and if you want to be home or be with someone else, just leave.
SPY: Do you have any tried and true hangover cures?
CMJ: If I know it's going to be a full-on night, what I'll always do is have a glass of water and two Panadol by my bed. I have them when I get home. No hangover. One hundred percent, it is THE cure.
SPY: I'll remember that next time I manage to get out of the house for a cocktail.
CMJ: Try it tonight! I'll send you three bottles of wine.
SPY: You seem to be everywhere there's a party happening. Do you ever take a day off?
CMJ: I hate to namedrop, but a few years ago, I met Tyra Banks and she said to me if you don't take at least two days off a week, nobody cares. You'll just keep working and then you'll have a stroke or a heart attack and then you'll just be replaced, so she said, "For yourself, make sure you take two days off."
She asked if I was overworked and it was like she'd read my mind. I was working every single day. It was just appearance, fee, job, this, that, script, script, meeting, meeting, so now I take at least two days off a week.
SPY: What do you do on those days off? Are you ever on the couch watching Corrie with a cup of tea?
CMJ: I lounge around on the couch and I watch the E! Channel or movies, but I also love finding a good book to read and reading it in the garden.
Because I'm so go, go, go, it's very hard to pull yourself back a level and relax. You have to learn how to do that. I've learned to calm myself down and shut the door and shut the world out and go "Who cares?" for a little while.