SO THIS is Sister!

This seriously professional and professionally serious businessman is the very same person who lit up the airwaves for 13 years with his hilarious effeminate male alter-ego, affectionately known as Sister.

Trevor Davids was on Good Hope FM, Cape Talk Radio, P4 and Heart 104.9 for thousands of hours from 1994 to 2007, and every second was as witty as the last.
The interview with People’s Post transpired in the elegant offices of his Business Management Services company called Pendragon House, but despite the immaculate surroundings and Davids’ resolute demeanour, a playfully whimsical look will cross his face whenever he talks about Sister.

“The character was instrumental in changing the face of conventional radio, especially SABC Radio,” he says before doing a marvellous impression of “the Queen’s” English: “There was a time when your elocution and your diction had to be pure and your Afrikaans moet uitmatig wees en uit die rakke wees. Now along comes this character who doesn’t give two hoots about language. I just spoke like an ordinary person speaks.
“By the time the SABC realised that, all the rules of engagement in terms of presenters were totally floundered. The advertising revenue shot up by 500%!”

Sister left a mark on thousands of listeners when radio was just about the most powerful medium out there.
“At one stage Good Hope FM was the be-all and end-all of regional radio. We attracted 1,1 million listeners per 15 minutes. Those are phenomenal figures for a radio show, and we did that consistently for two years.”
Davids and Sister were always two separate identities. Virtually no-one knew that the “macho man with the deep voice” was in actual fact the “irreverent, irrelevant, irritating, irresponsible but irresistible” wisdom-imparting District 6 resident.

“I was never the owner of the character, just the custodian. It was owned by the people who demanded the character – the listeners,” continues Davids.
It was, after all, the listeners who got him back in the studio. “I had absolutely no desire to go into radio,” he insists.
It all started in October 1995, when Davids was “in the wrong place at the right time, or in the right place at the wrong time”.
He was on his way to a business appointment in Sea Point when he received a call from the client asking for a postponement for a couple of hours.

Davids was then friends with Good Hope FM presenters Dmitri Jegels and DJ Clarence Ford, so he decided to drop by the studio for a while. It was a decision that changed his life forever. Davids was reading a newspaper in the studio and listening to a caller talking to Ford off the air.

“Clarence asked me to cut off the person, because he wanted to get on with the show. I told him that was none of my business, but he pushed the microphone into my face. I always had this knack of playing the fool from my school days, and I don’t know what made me do it, but I switched to this voice. Where it came from I don’t know, but it just flowed. All of this happened off air, of course.”

Ford followed a hunch and put Davids on air before he even knew it.
The next caller wanted to apologise to her boyfriend on air, but by then Davids, or rather, Sister, was into the whole thing and asked the caller why she wanted to apologise.

“The voice then dispensed tremendous wisdom about relationships in a fun way!” laughs Davids, before explaining that the origins of the name “Sister” came from Ford’s on air statements that the voice was that of his sister. One thing led to another and soon the character became popular for an unfailing commitment to the underdog in society, a no-holds barred dialogue with listeners, a scant regard for protocol, political correctness and a complete disregard for the rules of engagement with prominent public personalities. An alter-ego has an uncanny way of interfering with the ego, but for Davids, this was never the case.

“I managed to separate Trevor from the character. Trevor lived in the business world – he had the aspiration to be a successful businessman. Trevor had no desire to be a creative person on television or radio. I never saw this as a career, but rather a hobby.” Fortunately Sister hogged the airwaves for a dozen years and made people sit up and take note. Davids exclaims spontaneously: “It was crazy times!”

In the beginning he avoided public appearances with conviction, but his resistance dwindled – especially when his wife, Norma – acting as the “friend of Sister” and after being pestered by a number of requests – insisted that he should reconsider.
“She phoned me one day and asked: ‘What sized skirt do you wear?’ She convinced me to put on pantyhose … to put on a bra!”
His first live performance was in Atlantis, which, according to him, was too far for people to travel. He expected under a 100 fans to turn up. The venue was big enough to hold a 1 000 people, but because Davids had been avoiding the spotlight for years and the demand from the public to see their idol was literally insatiable, the place was packed.

“As I pulled up, there must have been 4 000 people on the outside,” he says shaking his head. Once he walked out of the dressing room in full apparel, about 20 policemen had to protect him from the hysterical crowd. I realised then that we had created a monster,” says Davids, only half joking.

Sister and Ford, nonetheless, delivered a stand-out improvised performance on stage.
“Clarence was always the perfect foil for Sister. He used to say that he had no idea what’s going to come out of Sister’s mouth, and neither did I!”

The “voice” became the “character” which became a “monster”, but it always spoke the truth and preached common sense.
The last show was in August 2007, but despite seeing the world and changing innumerable lives, Davids never regretted his decision to move on. He says he enjoyed every minute of it, but he has nonetheless said his final and unequivocal goodbyes.
He does, however, hint playfully: “I’m not quite as divorced from the character as I imply …”

The words hang mysteriously in the air.