The Masked Singer Australia is one of the most ridiculous shows to emerge on TV in the last couple of years – and it also happens to be the most fun. It’s part singing show, part mystery, part fever dream, all rolled up in one shiny Osher-presented package.
Contestants on the show are celebrities from all walks of life, some professional singers and others… not. To get the behind-the-scenes goss on this wild and wonderful series, we spoke to Lote Tuqiri, who was just unveiled as the man behind the piñata. Here’s what the former footballer had to share...
How did you get involved in The Masked Singer?
Lote Tuqiri: I’ve had a few friends who have been on the show and I don’t know – [the show] got a hold of me and I was thinking “maybe”. I’ve always backed myself as a singer – in the shower, mind you, or maybe in the karaoke bar after about six beers. I thought, ‘Let’s give this a crack; it’ll be a little bit of fun and it’ll probably show myself in a different light’. [The idea that] you don’t have to be boxed into one thing, you can try different things.
What did your kids think of your time on the show?
Very surprised. I’m away at the moment so I didn’t get their initial reactions of seeing it, but when I spoke to them they actually couldn’t believe what was going on and how I kept the secret from them for such a long time. It’ll be fun to watch it with my six-year-old again.
Did you have much input on your costume and song choices?
A few of the different songs, yes. The costume was already set, but I think I would have been happy with what they were going with anyway. It’s a creative process, and they’ve got amazing expertise. It was pretty cool.
What was it like performing in that piñata outfit? It seems pretty intense.
Yeah, very intense. It was a big outfit – it ended up being eight to nine, maybe 10 feet tall. I’m 6 ft 4 and the piñata head just kept going on top of my head. It was hot and stuffy at different times, but that was only really because of me being that nervous around singing, especially the last performance of “Party Rock”.
I had to get on stage and come from backstage, start the routine there, and I had to be on time with words and choreography at the same time. That really stressed me out, trying to get all that in the memory bank and put it out there onto the stage within a few days of finding out that I had to do that. That was stressful, I was really relieved I accomplished that and I think I did okay. I thank our coaches backstage who helped me with sorting all of that out.
What were rehearsals like? Did you rehearse in full costume?
Yep, full costume. And because it was full costume, you only got to rehearse on stage once or twice before you did it. In my trade way back when, when you rehearsed – you’re training all week. Not necessarily on the stage, but a similar stage, like a training paddock. Here I was rehearsing in a room by myself with music. Not doing more dress rehearsals was tough – I obviously would have been a lot more confident about where I was going and what I was doing. Rehearsals, especially when you’ve got a big step count, in a hotel room don’t necessarily relate to getting on stage. But you’ve just got to make do, and I was grateful for the help I got.
When performing, was it harder to sing with the mask on or off?
It’s easier to sing with it on, definitely. That was part of the appeal to go on the show – I can actually show my wares, if I do have any, without having to be visible. It’s a bit like singing in the shower; obviously you’ve got a costume on but no one is really seeing you properly. That was part of the appeal.
Did you get to meet the other contestants? Did you know who they were?
No, no one. I still don’t know one contestant that was on the show. I don’t know who anyone is. But I’m pretty proud that I lasted this far because there’s some really good singers. It’s impressive listening to them. I don’t know who wins, but Baby’s got a great voice, Pavlova… I’m pretty excited I beat an accomplished singer like Ben Lee. That’s a notch on my belt.
What was your favourite moment from filming?
My favourite moment from filming the show was probably accomplishing that last routine of “Party Rock”. It all coming together on stage, and getting through to the end of that song and it sounding okay – because I tell you what, I was nervous as hell. Give me 90,000 people in a stadium, with a footy jersey and a footy ball any day of the week over a stage with a piñata costume and four judges.
Speaking of the judges, what did you think of their guesses for who you were?
They were pretty cool. I was impressed with one of the Hemsworth guesses – I was like yeah, I could go along with that. I could go Chris Hemsworth. Jackie was getting close to the mark when she was talking about Beau Ryan. But then a few of the other judges threw her off the scent with some of their guesses. Some mates of mine said when the mask was revealed they were happy, but they wanted Elon Musk, because Hughsey had said Elon Musk. It was all good banter. I’ve had a lot of feedback from friends and family and a lot of Masked Singer Australia fans as well. It’s been great to be a part of.
The Masked Singer Australia airs Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on 10. Catch up on all the chaos at 10 play.
Written by Jenna Guillaume, an entertainment journalist and author of YA rom-coms What I Like About Me and You Were Made For Me. Follow her at @jennaguillaume.