Long before Barbie Brazil caught the eye for a life swathed in pink, she was swinging from a stripper’s pole, writhing herself out of poverty one dance at a time.
The woman born as Ennie Tembie Tshabalala, who is now Ennie Cleary, has remodelled her life. Everything she touches turns to pink – her home, car, dogs, food. Yes, even the dog food.
The pink life followed the life of cosmetic surgery, with her biggest feat yet to come in the form of a substantial breast enlargement operation.
“Go big or die,” the 34-year-old says while draped on mohair and faux fur on a salmon-coloured couch.
From her driveway, the double-storey house she shares with her husband and young son in an upmarket Fourways estate doesn’t attract much attention. Behind the front doors, though, there is no escaping the pink. It is there in every shade – watermelon, salmon and fuchsia from wall to wall and ceiling to floor. Even her son’s room is pinked-out.
Husband Seamus, 66, has a very pragmatic approach: pink makes her happy, so it makes him happy. The only thing off-limits is dyeing his food pink.
“I think I’m having early menopause, I don’t know. There’s never enough pink in a woman’s life,” Cleary says.
She first started working at The Summit Club in Hillbrow at 19 and later moved to The Grand, Lollipop Lounge and then Teazers.
This is where she got the nickname Barbie Brazil, because of her tiny frame.
Now she describes herself as a “beauty entrepreneur”.
“I don’t play, I slay. Hair, skin-care and beauty products. I’m also a fashion designer. I’m a hustler. Once you understand what money is, you don’t stop. You work, you never stop: money is very important.”
In the lounge, a hot-pink Christmas tree, flanked by baby-pink cross complete with a hot-pink crown of thorns, sits comfortably with a stripper pole, a remnant of a past life.
“I love being happy. My son also makes me happy, he is the world to me. Sometimes my husband complains because everything is pink. All our food is pink, I use food colouring.”
Seamus, who works as a consultant and is abroad often, met his wife 15 years ago while she was doing online stripping. “I just had to meet her,” he said. They got married a few years later, and had their son when she was 24.
“If wearing pink and living in a pink house makes her happy then I’m fine with that. She’s my wife and I’m supposed to make sure she’s happy,” Seamus said. “I’ve told her that she can have her pink pap and her pink mash potato but to leave mine alone,” he joked.
Her six Pomeranian dogs have no choice but to enjoy their pink pellets, though. They all respond to three names – Dolce Gabbana, Legend and Bougie.
“I love my dogs. I use food colouring to colour the dogs and, of course, beetroot. They have to be washed and coloured every week. The vet said I can’t wash them every week, but I said you can’t tell me what to do with my dogs.”
She is now preparing for her third round of cosmetic surgery, to be performed in the US. Two months ago, she was featured on an episode of Outpatients, a reality series. She has had a nose job, boob job, her lips and butt done, and permanent eyebrows.
In the episode, Barbie Brazil requested skin lightening and another breast-enlargement procedure but her requests were denied. Now she and her husband have found a surgeon in the US.
“I’m a very fake b*tch. I’m going for my third boob job. These are 800cc [cubic centimetres] and I’m going for 2,000cc. I don’t give a stinky what people say, you live only once. You go big or you just die. Nothing is ever enough, and you just have to keep
going. Like really, why must I stop?”