Tackling dirty toilets with laughs

SINGAPORE - Singapore's drag queen and comedian Kumar will be tackling some dirty business in his new role as the Minister of Toilets - in a skirt.

Not in reality, but in a new movie called Everybody's Business, which revolves around the state of loos here.

Speaking to the media yesterday on the sidelines of the first day of filming at a coffee shop in North Bridge Road, the 45-year- old said: "I'm playing a minister, which is very challenging. I've always wanted to be in politics, so now I can be, in a movie."

Known for his daring cross-dressing roles, Kumar said that he will be acting as a woman, and not an ah gua (Hokkien slang for sissy or transvestite).

He said: "They chose me to be a woman because they said people will relate better to me, because they always see me in (such roles)."

The funnyman added in jest: "We cannot play a male minister because it would be too similar to the (Environment Minister). It's better to cover our a**es."

But, if Kumar had his way, he would look into the texture of toilet paper.

He explained: "Toilet paper can be very rough. When you wipe your a**, it's very painful, like sambal belachan. I think the paper should be made softer."

The idea to do a movie about toilets came from the movie's executive producer, Jack Neo, and Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, a non-governmental body that promotes good sanitation and clean toilets.

Filthy loos are not only present in reel life, but are also a "real problem" in real life, according to the cast of Everybody's Business, which includes actors Gurmit Singh and Mark Lee.

Sitting around a table at the same coffee shop, they shared their worst toilet experiences - from footprints found on toilet seats to "excretion exhibition" on the walls of loos.

The 48-year-old Singh, who plays a hygiene inspector with an obsession for cleanliness, shared his own horror story of a coffee- shop toilet near his Woodlands flat when he first moved in.

He said: "My flat was undergoing renovations and the toilet wasn't ready yet. I was having a stomach ache, so I went to the coffee shop across the street to use the toilet."

But the sight that greeted Singh was enough to make him endure the pain and hold it in.

He exclaimed: "I saw excrement everywhere on the floor and the wall. It was like an art exhibition. I couldn't believe it was all over every cubicle."

The straight-talking Lee described how he was taking a toilet break at an air-conditioned foodcourt in Yew Tee during the filming of a variety programme and was shocked to find a long piece of faeces in a urinal.

"My co-host, Cavin Soh, even took a photo of it... We just did a fast one and got out of the toilet," said the 44-year-old, with a laugh.

Basing a movie on toilets is a "breakthrough" and a challenge, as it can be quite a turn-off for the audience, he said.

Lee hopes that the audience will get the take-home message amid all the waste matter and toilet humour.

Kumar said: "People will leave laughing after the movie and (hopefully) go back thinking maybe (they) should change (their toilet) habits."

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