Up close and personal with Mpho Molepo
CONFUSING well played characters with actors' real life is such an easy human error, especially with a larger than life character such as Rhythm City's Fats.
So when strangers almost circle Fats - real name Mpho Molepo - with ready-to-laugh faces at this eatery in Melville, everyone, including him, sort of smiles and waves.
It's what his actor dad Arthur Molepo would do.
Mpho seems to be fixated on his dad. He is the artist behind this acting masterpiece.
It's clear from his world view that Arthur can be proud. Mpho is not boring though. He just edits responses in his head before saying things out loud.
Like when I ask him which of his four TV characters he's enjoyed the most.
"I can't single out one. I loved playing Digger on Zone 14, I enjoyed numerous roles in stage plays and I'm certainly enjoying Fats in Rhythm City."
He says Fats was a shell when he was presented to him. The character had no background.
"I had to create a sustainable character with a long life-span in the drama and link him to different future story lines."
Like every Rhythm City actor, he praises the production team.
"They're very liberal and the story lines are dynamic..."
So he remembers all his shining moments, like when his reel (TV) life mom got a toy boy.
He also loved the gambling topic. But none stands out more than the ward counsellor elections.
"There are co-actors who just make a character easy to execute. Siphiwe Mtshali is one of them. His energy is amazing.
"They gave us the campaigning slogan 'gravy for all' and we milked it, abusing it at whatever opportunity.
"The viewers clearly liked it because we were allowed to get away with it."
Back to his childhood.
It seems Mpho had a charmed upbringing. His mother was a teacher, while Arthur travelled all over the world because of his theatre work. This meant that he went for months without seeing him. But when he was around, life was blissful.
"Though I had transport collecting me and bringing me back home, I'd find that man waiting with open arms for me every time I came back from school."
He was also treated to the best toys a boy could ever ask for.
"I was the first child to own a TV game in the whole of Diepkloof, Soweto. I must find out how much it's worth today.
"Also, my dad used to send me postcards from his travels.
"I'd take them to school and brag to my friends and that made me a hit. I used to call my belongings 'can't gets'."
Unlike some of his generation, he still has all that collection. Souvenirs from dad to future children perhaps?
Then I throw him a curve ball: "Is it true that you're getting married on December 8?"
You could cut the tension with a knife. I thought Mpho would show me the door.
But he tried to keep it under control while denying everything.
I decide to put the question about how he has liked the girls on the soapie that is on hold.
We both sip our drinks and the photographer won't get involved.
After that psychological exchange of invisible swords, we discuss weather - and, like a gift, from heaven, we talk education. The clouds give way to the sunbeams of his life again.
He thinks the interview has been about his dad...
"I love both my parents equally..."