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(Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)
(Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureMay 11, 2022

Why Eli Matthewson quit dancing lessons

(Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)
(Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)

The comedian tells FIRST what it was like being part of Dancing With the Stars NZ’s first same-sex couple, why he had a bowl cut for so long as a child, the first porn he ever encountered and more.

First haircut

“My mum – because I was the only boy in my family – she just didn’t know what to do with my hair. For years she just thought a bowl cut was the only haircut. I was 11, I think, when I got my first non-bowl haircut. I just had the bowl for so long.”

First job

“I did a paper run for the Christchurch Star. Firstly there were some terrifying dogs on my paper run – I would skip a whole street because the dogs were so scary. And then there was also a tree where there was a magpie that would swoop me. So I used to bring a tennis racket, and I would put it inside my backpack. I don’t think I ever hit the magpie. I think it was mainly just to be like ‘Get out of here!’ A 12-year-old with a tennis racket, I don’t think even a bird is that scared of me.”

First dance lessons

“I did ballet from age four till six. An iconic run. The main thing I remember from our ballet classes was we would do a kind of witches’ cauldron thing, where you would be plucking things out and then putting things back in your cauldron. The reason I left really is because we did Elves and the Shoemaker, and they made me play a marching boy. All the girls got to show off their witches’ arms, and I just had to march. I was like, ‘I’m done. I didn’t get into ballet to march’.”

First reaction to being on Dancing with the Stars

“I was just so stoked. When I first got the call I was living with Laura Daniel, so I just came home and said, ‘I’m going to do that thing that you did’. I was very excited to be the first same-sex couple, and I just was like, ‘How lucky am I to get to do dancing for hours and hours a day?’ It’s not like when you do – I don’t know – arts and crafts one hour a week, or learn a language one hour a week. I did it full time for … not long enough, but quite long.”

First encounter with porn

“We were at a family friend’s house for a holiday in Akaroa and there was this stack of magazines under the TV. I was just looking through all the magazines, seeing what they were, and there was one called Gike. G-I-K-E, which was Girls on Bikes. I looked through it, and it was just naked girls on bikes, a full magazine. Gike – isn’t that the most disgusting word you’ve ever heard in your life?”

Interview edited for length and clarity.

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