Cape Town - It’s a tangled web of blessers and slay queens, secrets and lies, money and cheating – and the man at the centre of it all is thrilled with all the drama he’s created.
Thabo "Tbo Touch" Molefe is revelling in his first acting role. No longer "just" an entrepreneur, DJ and TV personality, he’s added actor, screenwriter and filmmaker to his list of accomplishments. His first film, Blessers, was the talk of the town. In the movie, the Touch HD owner plays the flamboyant Mthakathi, a shady character who throws extravagant parties where he introduces blessers to slay queens.
"I thoroughly enjoyed delivering the few lines I had in the film," the DJ tells us. "Mthakathi is a pimp, man! He’s crazy."
Tbo Touch, who produced the film and co-wrote it with Sasa Nqabeni and Kumaran Naidu, says they wanted to address the topic of blessers without being distasteful.
"Usually the woman is portrayed as a victim and the man as an enabler. We wanted to show both sides of the coin." Acknowledging that it’s a sensitive subject and “we are still a very sensitive nation”, the writers chose to tackle it as a comedy.
Director Rea Rangaka, who won a Golden Horn for TV drama iNumber Number, adds Blessers "has an interesting way of dealing with some really dark material, like the concept of blessers, cheating and the sex trade".
"We’ve seen and lived with the events on screen all around us. The film is ‘funny ha-ha’, but even funnier as in, ‘Oh, snap!” Kenneth Nkosi stars as Jacob Mofokeng, a middle-aged CEO who has grown accustomed to his routine – a life which includes his wife (Sonia Mbele), his daughter (Six Nyamane), his domestic worker (Connie Chiume), his job and his expensive recreational habits.
Explaining the plot, Tbo says Mthakathi attempts to give Jacob a night to remember to help him forget his marital woes.
"I don’t want to spoil it, but Jacob goes to a masked party and gets a lap dance from his daughter, and he ends up becoming a blesser to her. These things happen every day and this movie is to help teach people," he says.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
The past two years have been “a rollercoaster ride filled with learning curves”, the entertainer says. Apart from overseeing the production of Blessers, there were reports his company, Touch HD and Marketing that owns popular digital radio station Touch HD, is at risk of liquidation. Last year a firm took Touch HD to court over claims it owed them R1,3 million for production and marketing services. In February, the company was hauled to court over an unpaid hospitality bill of nearly R190 000, the Sunday World reported.
And the Industrial Development Corporation, a state finance entity that supports black businesses, reportedly obtained a court order in September to recover R11m that Tbo Touch borrowed to set up Touch HD. Tbo Touch is vague when asked about the court cases, but states: “I’ll never be broke. It’s too late now for that”.
The Soweto-born businessman says many people make assumptions about him without asking what’s going on.
“I’m a businessman but I’m human too. If you don’t know, ask me. In business I take risks and if something doesn’t work out or I don’t see a future, I move on to the next thing.”
Yet he would never let go of his dream, into which he’s invested millions.
“I put R33 million on Touch HD, which I got in different ways. I sell gin, wine and I am into property and other things, so I was able to raise the money for Touch HD. Touch HD is doing amazing, don’t be fooled by naysayers,” he says.
“We never closed down, we migrated to THD24.com.” The reason people thought Touch HD had closed was because it moved from live online radio to podcasts.
“I’ve learnt live online radio doesn’t have as many listeners as podcasting,” he says. “We currently have 12 podcasts running on the platform. We chose this because we have 2 million podcast downloads and live streaming sometimes only reached 2 000 people a day. “This means we have shows running around the clock, at listeners’ convenience. There is no live station that reaches 20 000 or more people. “We had to switch because it made business sense.”
The entertainer doesn’t want to dwell on the past. He’s much happier talking about his future in film. Blessers is just the first of many productions he has in the works, he says.
“We’ve been working hard to try and be a multifaceted media house. And we are fast taking over the digital space too.”
By helping himself, he’s helping others.
“I made sure 40 salaries were paid out this year. I tried to play my part,” he proudly says. “When I eat, I don’t eat alone. I create work and empower people.”
Blessers, he adds, employed more than 100 people. “We made something out of nothing. I don’t play my part by talking and no actor can walk away saying they were exploited from that production.”
Outside of his media work, he’s also launched his own gin and wine brands. And he loves to pay it forward. Tbo Touch gives back to the community by helping groom would-be entrepreneurs. Every year he takes 10 teens from around SA who have submitted a business idea and proposal, and flies them to Joburg to visit big black-owned businesses and learn entrepreneurial skills. People should expect more fireworks from him in 2020.
“We are going for the Black Panther standards. We will be doing eight TV shows that have already been approved by various channels and which will air from February next year,” he says. His starring role isn’t a one-off either, he assures us.
“This is my first acting role, but it isn’t my last. I’m not afraid to be called a jack-of-all-trades because I master everything I do.”
He sees himself on the same level as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, he tells us.
“I’m not there yet, but don’t underestimate my drive.”