The 80s pop band singer, turned reality TV star and famously face-lifted chas yet another persona these days– as one half of the cabaret singing duo Rich and Famous with his wife, beauty writer Sue Moxley. We caught up with the lively pair during their latest visit to the Island.
They had been here in August, singing for an audience of 10,000 at the third ‘Jack Up The 80s’ music event, and then later in the month the highly recognisable twosome could be spotted enjoying a RIB ride during Cowes Week.
Just a few weeks later, the Essex-based celebrity couple had headed back across the Solent and were staying at their favourite Seaview Hotel and enjoying their favourite squid and pasta dishes at the Olivo restaurant in Newport, whilst they spent time viewing houses for a potential second home.
Apart from anything else, this latest Island visit was a break away from the latest national publicity storm – which came after their singing appearance at an old people’s home attracted sneering and negative comments in the Press and on social media.
The suggestion was that their performance for an audience of 30 seniors was somehow ‘desperate’ and a ‘career low’ – but, as angry as they might have felt about the snide digs, they certainly weren’t letting it get to them.
David is no stranger to negative publicity, from his Dollar and Bucks Fizz days, right through to his controversial stand-up rows on “I’m A Celebrity” and the flop of the “Reborn in the USA” reality show – but he remains surprisingly easy and good-humoured about it all.
Indeed, both he and Sue clearly refuse to take themselves too seriously – in fact, are actually quite happy to send themselves up, as demonstrated by their tongue-in-cheek name choice of “Rich and Famous” for the duo.
“You expect people to have a go, it’s all part of this business,” shrugged David, “but I must say it was very disappointing to get that kind of PR about us singing in the care homes”.
Added Sue, whose father suffers from dementia: “I was angry because it wasn’t as if we were hurting anyone.
“David’s mum had Alzheimer’s before she died too, and his money from The Jungle (I’m A Celebrity) went to the Alzheimer’s Society, so this is something we care about and have personal knowledge of. We know how to deal with the patients and they enjoy what we do, so to get ridiculed and be told that we were just there to send people to sleep, was very hurtful.
As David pointed out, the care home gigs are in any case just a fraction of the couple’s performing calendar. Through the Scott Jordan entertainment agency, they attract a steady stream of bookings for 1980s nostalgia events, weddings and private parties.
So how did this unlikely husband and wife ‘dream team’ come about?
David recalls that 2008 was something of a stand-out year in his life – he’d had a few down years following the flop of the reality show ‘Re-born in the USA’, which he and ex-girlfriend Tereza Bazar had been hoping might re-ignite the success of their old band, Dollar.
There had also been his high-profile court battles over ownership of the Bucks Fizz band name, and then the revelation that David was running a burger van business, which the Press seized upon with predictable glee.
“I was morphing into a sort of car-crash celebrity,” he recalls. “I’d gone into Reborn in the USA hoping to get work from it, but they didn’t really let us sing a song. The show had a huge budget of £13m but it didn’t really work either as a reality show or an entertainment show”.
By 2008, he was up for pretty much any kind of challenge, and didn’t think twice when he and Tereza (as Dollar) were offered a place on The Makeover Show, which set out to transform a group of fading stars through major cosmetic surgery.
“I was 52 and divorced (from ex-model Maria Day), and thought well, what have I got to lose?” he says.
“I remember pacing up and down before the surgery at Henfield Hospital, but really, that was just for the cameras – I wasn’t worried”
However, the surgery did leave his face very swollen – and ironically, it was around this time that he met Sue, a former model and beauty editor of the Sun newspaper, via a party invite on Facebook.
Her love life was admittedly ‘tangled’ at the time, since she was dating TV doctor Hilary Jones as well as being in an unhappy live-in partnership – so despite the fact that they hit it off, she and David went their separate ways for a while,
In his case, it meant a few months living in Spain, followed by a call to go in the jungle for I’m A Celebrity in November 2008.
Sue admits that she tuned in regularly to watch David’s troublemaking wind-up antics, which got him so much publicity. “I thought he was funny because I could see that he was just acting up,” she says.
“You have to be over the top to get attention,” declared David, in what could almost be a mantra for his life. “If there’s no drama, there’s no show!”
“But I realise now that it hasn’t always been so good for me, so I do tend to tone things down now”.
While David was in the jungle, Sue was sorting out her personal life. He landed back in the UK having come fourth in the show, and was met with a whirlwind of publicity, after which he took off for the Caribbean with his daughters Olivia and Amber.
“It was after I got back from holiday that I contacted Sue because I’d decided to rent a flat in London for six months”.
Their whirlwind romance lifted off from there and within three months they were living together, then six months later married secretly at Hornchurch Register Office.
Even their marriage was a publicity fest, however – for as far as the public was concerned, they got married on TV, on the 2010 “Celebrity 4 Weddings” reality show, along with a group of other celebs and their partners, including acid-tongued Katie Hopkins.
“I didn’t want that to be my real wedding” says Sue “because it was just a circus”.
Their ‘real’ registry office wedding came shortly afterwards, and was decidedly more modest – just the two of them along with three friends.
“So we’ve actually been married twice!” laughed Sue, “which means we’ve got two marriage certificates. The same registrar did the ceremony both times but kept it quiet when we did it all again”.
One thing they quickly discovered that they had in common was a love of singing – which isn’t necessarily what you’d expect from a former model and beauty writer.
“Sue would really have liked to have been a pop star,” says David, and we found we just enjoyed singing together.
“We started doing engagements together and just hit on the name Rich and Famous a as a bit of a joke. We signed up with the agency and it just seemed to take off.
Says Sue: “David isn’t trying to be a pop star – we sing because I love it.”
David adds that, for him singing is more of a hobby now. “It’s a fun, party act and we’ll carry on for as long as we are offered bookings”.
“The younger kids know us from the reality shows and older ones like some of the music we do – Matt Monro and Dusty Springfield – so everyone has a good night out. People love to come and take ‘selfies’ with us and they feel they have met a celebrity”.
Whilst David insists he won’t do ‘silly shows’ any more, he and Sue were approached about doing the infamous Celebrity Big Brother – and he’s not ruling that out.
“We have been interviewed for it, and it’s certainly a good payday, but I’m not sure if they think I am too identified with the Jungle. But we’ll see: they know where we are!”
Making of the man
One thing’s for sure, David has spent a lifetime making sure he gets noticed, by hook or by crook. He’s done everything from the facelift to the court case, to standing as a Conservative candidate for Brighton and Hove City Council in 2007.
Even that foray into local politics was fraught with drama after he made some remarks that were judged to be homophobic – provoking a storm from the local gay community.
Of course he wasn’t elected, but he managed to turn the whole episode around, and in the end even got himself invited to the Brighton Gay Awards.
Now he says of his brief involvement with local politics: “I learned that as long as you know your scripts, you’re OK – but my overall experience of politics was that it’s a much dirtier business even than showbiz!”
So why this craving for attention? What’s at the root of it?
Possibly his early years as the youngest of three children of an unlikely couple: dad was from a family of travelling showmen, born in a Romany wagon and seemingly unable to settle to domestic life, whilst his mother was well-educated and the daughter of a Rolls Royce engineer.
“Mum said my dad was very handsome, so I guess she just fell for him, but it was probably a big mistake really.”
His parents divorced when he was 10 and he was brought up in a council flat in Brighton – hardly the kind of start for a life of celebrity.
But David quickly showed a talent for acting, and by the age of 10 he was appearing in a local amateur dramatic society’s Sound of Music. His sister worked behind the scenes, while his brother had found a passion for boxing, and was calling himself Michael Van Day.
This actually where David’s ultimately famous name came from: A local paper in Brighton featured the three siblings and called them the “Van Day trio” – which David quite fancied for himself, and so retained.
It wasn’t long before he needed a stage name, since his ambitious mum signed him up for singing and dancing lessons and ultimately he won a scholarship to the famed Italia Conti School of performing arts in London.
He travelled there by train five days a week, and among his school contemporaries were the likes of Bonnie Langford, Lena Zavaroni and Leslie Ash.
He actually wanted to be a classical actor and had in fact performed Shakespeare, but most jobs for youngsters in those days were in song and dance. He did several commercials and TV plays, but everything changed when Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Julie approached him to get together with the pop group Guys and Dolls.
It was to be a forerunner of today’s type of manufactured pop bands, but did enjoy some success with chart hits like A Whole Lot of Loving.
The point came when David had to choose between acting – with the offer of a TV film role as a space boy – or signing up with Magnet Records, the independent label that represented the likes of Alvin Stardust.
“I chose the recording contract as I thought it would be more fun,” he says.
And so his path was set: three years on the road with Guys and Dolls, doing the big working men’s clubs and appearing on TVs Top of the Pops with the likes of Marc Bolan and Pans People.
“It was a great apprenticeship,” he says.
When it all came to an end, his course was firmly set in the pop world, to be followed by the highs and lows of Dollar and Bucks Fizz, all well documented.
Now approaching his 59th birthday, he seems to have no regrets and is happy to be performing just for the joy of it – no matter what anyone else might think.
“I don’t tend to take myself that seriously when it comes to my image,” he says. “My friends and family know me for what I am, and that’s all that matters to me.”