Tonight, a set of shimmering doors open again, and Family bar's Wednesday night karaoke hostess Cindy of Samoa steps through and into GayNZ.com's Hall of Fame.
GayNZ.com: How was your Stars in Your Eyes experience?
Cindy: Being on the show was good, I was supposed to have been on it a week before, but I'd had a really serious car accident. My partner and I were coming back from Hamilton and got hit from the back. The other driver was speeding, drunk and sleeping. The three worst things! Our car went off the road and then rolled β I don't know how many times because I was already passed out. When I managed to get out, some of my hair was left pinned to the seat. The roof had collapsed in on a sharp angle β it could have stabbed my head.
It happened on a Saturday night β in the early hours of Sunday morning β and I woke up in Middlemore Hospital at 6:30 in Sunday evening. I was very lucky not to be more injured, but I was in pain β my whole body was in shock and I couldn't move anything. I was stuck, like someone was strapping my arms to my body. My partner had to help me in and out of bed and around the house for two weeks. My eye was swollen and my face was cut.
So actually, being on the show was hard, since I had to take heaps of painkillers before I went on stage. But I move my body so much when I perform, so the painkillers are just useless.
The great thing about doing the show was that I tripled my work from it. I got lots of gigs after people saw me on the show.
I've been in lots of documentaries and interviews about it, and people always ask. But Stars in their Eyes never asked. I was prepared for them to ask me about it, and they interviewed me twice β they came back and said 'we didn't get enough', so I thought 'here we go, I'm waiting for this'.
In some ways I thought it was because the guys from the show really respected me enough to not step into that private side of my life. So I have a lot of respect for them for that reason. They were themselves even interviewed about it later, and they said the show was about talent, not about sexuality. That's great.
Some people made nasty and sexual comments about me on the internet β and I thought 'how much brain do these people have?' I'm sure most of them were friends of the other contestants anyway! But I'm used to it. When you're in the entertainment industry, you can't be stupid enough to expect everybody to like you. It's one of those things β you have to take the good with the bad.
What was it like for you, growing up fa'afafine in Samoa?
My family have very strong Christian beliefs, and so they found it hard it first, but now we know it's OK, it's nothing bad. As I begun performing, my family realised how many people liked me and what I do.
I remember the first day my mum came home with a dress for me. It was the most special moment of my whole life β a sign of acceptance from my mum. I wish I'd kept it, as it would be so nice to still have it today. I gave it to someone I knew would use it β but the memory will always stay with me.
Where else did you work apart from Family bar on a Wednesday night?
I do gigs at casinos around New Zealand and lots of corporate stuff around the country too.
This week I'm rehearsing for Westfield Style Pacifika β the show is on this Friday in the Vector Arena, just next door to where I live. This will be my second year doing it. It's awesome.
We hear you've even been a hit in Las Vegas?
Yes, I went to America with a band β it was supposed to be a one-off thing in LA once, but I ended up doing two shows in Utah also, then I ended up working in Vegas at the Riviera Hotel, and then did some shows in San Francisco.
So why do you choose New Zealand as your home?
I've been in and out of New Zealand for some time, and I've had two long-term relationships with Kiwi men. So New Zealand is my second home. And when I came back from my last travelling I met someone and stayed here again.
What's your relationship status?
Not many people know I have a partner. But we've been together for six years and five months. He lives with me.
Favourite music? (apart from Tina Turner!)
Very relaxing lounge blues.
Favourite recent movie?
Click β with Adam Sandler and his remote! I like the way he can go back and correct what he did wrong.
Favourite TV show?
Outrageous Fortune. It's so real β like everyday things that happen!
I like those little gift ones that tell you 'Do's' and 'Don'ts', how to be good friendsβ¦ little advice books like that are good.
It's gotta be Google. You can find anything in Google, it's so good.
If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
I wish that everybody would find love and just be in peace.
Cindy of Samoa's first appearance on Stars in Their Eyes is shown below.